Friday, July 22, 2011

"I Call Myself an Artist..."

"...Poets sound old and dead," said Zach Houston, the writer who developed the concept for "Poemstore".

Lately his ""Poemstore" is set up in the Bloch Building at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City, MO.  Houston can be found typing wildly on a typewriter in the middle of four tall white walls covered in sheets of paper of all sizes tagged with images, words, and random ramblings he creates.  His brain is in overdrive, meeting strangers, one after another, lined up waiting for him to write whatever comes to his mind on a whim.

How does he decide what to write?  Where do these lines reside?  In a bank of words, with a special vault for when he feels like pulling out the really nice lines?  Or in a cultural storehouse of mixed emotional baggage and ethical recalls.  Could you imagine the pressure?  First impressions mean absolutely everything in the type of poem you are going to create.  That's money for Houston! Literally.

So, I visited Zach today at the Nelson and we talked quite a bit, regardless of the line behind me.  I waited my turn.  I had questions to ask this guy.  He was legit.  A money making poet artist.  Super cool in my book.  Anyway, my poem took quite some time, since we kept talking throughout its composition, but I totally respect what he does and tipped him $4 for my poem. I thought about this a lot and wonder, "How much is a poem worth?"

Hmm. Good question.  What is an acceptable donation for a personal poem?

Here we are at the Poemstore.

Before he wrote anything, I told him I am a writer as well.  I shared with him the three haiku poems I wrote while waiting in line to meet him.

I wrote:

The typewriter sound
Echos through the stone hallway
Tapping on the walls

Transforms real into fiction
And fiction into real.

What is left of art?
Odd shaped canvases on walls
Or typewritten poems?

He replied:

amanda could you be
  author of more 
   adorable than
     words wild
      run a way
        to get from 
          one place to  
            say and another
             to write what
              we think
                  knowing it
                 whimsy and
                 wondering what
                  im talking about
                   when the person
                       who i am and 
                            why talking to
                                when in due time
                                   i talk more 
                                         than work
                                          its because im
                                           exhausted bored
                                             lonely and 
                                                by time
                                                   i get 
                                                  the phoenix
                                                to sleep she 
                                               will ready to
                                              xx type again

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