My poetry is rooted in the intimate details of my days. My writing is also very direct. To say things simply is to trust in the intention of language. This collection was designed to be visually minimal. It wagers everything on the power and beauty of written and spoken words.
WAYS TO MISSPELL OBSIDIAN is a collection of spoken-word poems by Ana Maria Caballero that investigates and celebrates the storytelling potential of long-form poetry. Following the passing of a very close friend, Caballero composed JUAN, a eulogy-in-verse. This text serves as both precursor and companion to “Ways to Misspell Obsidian,” a lyric essay written years later in which details of Juan’s passing are braided into the story of the intoxication of Caballero’s young son with nail polish remover.
Caballero culled from the pages of her essay to create two standalone poems, FATHOMLESS and ONCE. Combined with JUAN, these works form a triptych of shared signification, recursion, imagery, and vocabulary in which rhyme, unexpected line breaks, and spacing are used to sketch the shadows of emotion.
Written in Caballero’s signature, straightforward style, the texts read like open heart surgery. The reader is welcome into the folds of each word as an active participant, searching for meaning via memory–but gently. Traumatic and commonplace events are woven together to show how bright bursts of significance hide in every moment of our lives.
Caballero’s poems don’t deliver tidy answers, and they are unapologetic about it. Instead, they invite the reader to sit beside meaning and discover how such proximity can suffice.
“Ways to Misspell Obsidian,” was a finalist for the Emerging Writer’s Contest hosted by Ploughshares, one of the most prestigious literary journals in the US. JUAN was written as a gift for Juan’s sister and is being published, as an artwork, by GAZELL.iO through their first-ever poetry reading at the gallery, on September 29th, 2022.
About Ana Maria Caballero
Ana Maria Caballero (B. 1981) is a Colombian-American poet and artist. Her work explores how biology delimits cultural rites, ripping the veil off romanticized motherhood and questioning notions that package female sacrifice as a virtue. She’s the recipient of the Beverly Prize, Colombia’s José Manuel Arango National Poetry Prize, and a Sevens Foundation Grant. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize, a Knight Foundation Tech + Arts Fellowship, and a finalist for the Academy of American Poets Prize, her poems–both digital and analog–have been published widely and exhibited internationally. She’s one of the cofounders of literary gallery theVERSEverse, which is working to redefine poetry’s cultural agency via technology. She has two books forthcoming in 2023, written in the hours before the world wakes up. Much of what she writes in the dark can be read at anamariacaballero.com.