“If this is not love, I don’t know what is.”


Some sort of ancient musical instrument

“POEMS: your topic, your price, about anything, donation.”

Name your subject.  Then, a poem emerges from “the crisp click-clacking of Zach Houston‘s lima-bean green, Swiss-made, Hermes Rocket portable typewriter … amid the bustle on the sidewalk.” The 28-year-old Houston sits on a folding chair he has set up, usually outside the Ferry Building in Oakland, but often elsewhere in the Bay Area.

He calls his project “poemstore.”

He’s written poems for Gavin Newsom, Joe Montana, Steve Martin and even the staff of Oscar de la Renta. He’s been featured on the CBS Evening News and Charles Osgood.

“Hey, want a poem?” Houston offered passers-by last weekend on an unusually warm San Francisco winter day. “Hi there, how ’bout a poem? You look like you need a poem!” Some stopped. Some didn’t. Nearly everyone smiled at the scruffy-faced guy in a black baseball cap with an infinity symbol on the front. Others approached just to view the anachronistic device on his lap, thinking it to be some sort of ancient musical instrument.

“It’s my job,” he says.  It’s been his only job since 2007.  “If this is not love, I don’t know what is,” he says.

You can read about him in the Oakland Tribune‘s Valentine’s Day article here.  Or catch up with him on his own minimalist website here.  Or write him at poems@zachhouston.com

(Hat tip, David Sanders.)

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4 Responses to ““If this is not love, I don’t know what is.””

  1. Elaine Ray Says:

    So low tech; so inspiring!

  2. Tweets that mention The Book Haven » Blog Archive » “If this is not love, I don’t know what is.” -- Topsy.com Says:

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Elaine Ray, chaven. chaven said: "Will write poems for food." Zach Houston's streetside poetry store http://bu.tt/i6i […]

  3. Cynthia Haven Says:

    Doesn’t it make you long for your old Smith-Corona, Elaine?

  4. Nanlove Says:

    can anyone give me a poem or a poem website about love poems, where a couple is fighting but they work it out? or just any love poem. I rly need to be inspired