Poems For Sale

I love this story (on NPR)

Zach Houston runs his Poem Store (on any given sidewalk) with these items: a manual typewriter, a wooden folding chair, scraps of paper, and a white poster board that reads: “POEMS — Your Topic, Your Price.”

For five years now, this has been his main source of income. Not that it’s necessarily a steady income, mind you.

I don’t think I could do what he’s doing. There are a few times when my verses flow out as fast as I can type them, but when you work in rhyme and meter, a typewriter is a bit intimidating. Give me a delete button, or better yet, an eraser. Actually, I don’t generally erase–I cross out, and put arrows on the page to move things around. Once in a while, I re-write something I have crossed out, which suddenly fits two stanzas later than I thought it would. But a typewriter? I’d need two drafts, and Zach Houston is putting out poems in mere minutes (at least, the examples in the story).

But he’s not starving, which is nice.

Ironically, I got a payment from Lulu today–two people bought my book last month! That brings the number of books sold in 4 years to 161. (Greta Christina broke a thousand in a few hours; PZ will probably have a few thousand pre-orders already.) But hey, Zach Houston shows that hope springs eternal, perhaps particularly during poetry month. So…

Take a look! (And if that doesn’t work, just look to the “Cuttlestuff” tab at the top of this page, or go to Lulu and look for “Cuttlefish Omnibus” if all my methods fail.)


  1. Ferrous Patella says

    Dang! No verse? I was looking forward to something that could be set to Cole Porter’s “Love for Sale”.

  2. Cuttlefish says

    Too busy grading, FP (nice moniker, by the way). Hell, I shouldn’t even be writing thi

  3. Trebuchet says

    I almost didn’t follow the link to NPR but I’m so glad I did. My late father had a little Hermes typewriter like that. He loved it. We gave him an electric but he wouldn’t use it. He used the Hermes most every day. My nephew has it now. He actually asked for it after Dad died. I hope he’s using it.

  4. Cuttlefish says

    I brought a portable Smith-Corona to college with me–did everything on it up to Senior Thesis, which required that we use an IBM Selectric. Just wasn’t the same…

  5. lcaution says

    Beg to disagree. IBM selectric keyboard was and remains the best in the known universe.

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