The Poem House

poem house

I first saw this amazing home on the website of my friend and extraordinary poet, Drew Myron. (Please visit her lovely poetic journeys here.)

According to the Poem House’s website, these enigmatic and provocative words were planned for erasure some time during September.

The home is a delicious late Victorian house in the town of St. Helena, California in the Napa Valley.  Built in 1892, Oakland visual and media artist Jeff Goodby recently covered the house with words, set in a typeface designed in the 1760s by John Baskerville.

The effect is a combination of Harry Potter and Andy Warhol and has challenged the meaning of home and book alike.

I don’t know if the words have been painted over by now.  Perhaps the home’s appearance has once again resumed that of any other Victorian that populates the Napa region of California.  Perhaps new words have been painted over the old.  I don’t know.  However its current state, it’s nonetheless notable that the home once was covered in words of meaning — words that might indicate story and poem and how houses become homes by the activity inside, rather than from the unique architecture of its wood and bones.

Our house is unremarkable on the outside.  It’s neat.  Clean.  Nothing stands out as extraordinary or unique.  In fact, if we were to add something remarkable, our homeowners’ association would slap us with a cease and desist letter faster than we could retrieve it from our mailbox.  Each of our cookie-cutter, stick and stucco houses are supposed to be look-alike and nondescript.   Still, wouldn’t it be interesting if houses could illustrate on the outside what their occupants are like on the inside? What if words simply and magically appeared on the outside of a house because of what was happening inside?

What would the words on your house say?

I hope my house would select words something like, Delicious, Smile, Generous, Hope, Tolerance,  Love.  But then, my house might have a different interpretation of this morning’s coffee and newspaper-fest; the way we carried on about today’s Ops Ed pieces; the quick kiss in the hallway as Dan and I passed, each preoccupied with our own thoughts; the tap-tap of my keyboard as I type this while wondering what my house would type … as I type this … as the house types that.

I think there’s a story here.  A magical, mystical wonderful story.

4 thoughts on “The Poem House

  1. Quite frankly I’m glad to live in a “regular” neighborhood where we don’t have a homeowner’s association. I like each house being a little bit different from it’s neighbors… both in basic design as well as in decorative trim, etc.

  2. You’re very lucky there, Dave. Most of Washington is sensible that way. I think the heat has gotten into the heads of some of the homeowners association folks here. They love to grumble. Certainly, it’s the heat. I’d hate to think these nice folks are complainers on purpose.


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