📝 Behind The Scenes Of NFT Poetry — Ana Maria Caballero
Discover the journey of an award winning poet breaking into NFTs...
I genuinely believe NFT art as we know it today is just the beginning of what we will see in the future. Innovators will reach new audiences and distribute not only art but different sorts of entertainment. Ana Maria Caballero is one of those innovators that have already achieved tremendous success in her field (poetry) and is at the vanguard of the poetry NFTs movement.
I had the chance to chat with this talented poet and learn more about her NFT journey. I recommend opening her poems to listen and get the whole experience of her works.
Can you tell us a bit about your background before NFTs?
I began writing poems in seventh grade, on the back of my middle school notebooks. Eventually, my poems overtook the journals, and I had to purchase new ones. I signed up for writing classes in high school and started crafting my first formal poems, a handful of which I slid inside the envelope carrying my application to Harvard University. There, I studied French, Spanish, and Italian literature and went on to several communication-related jobs. All the while, I was furiously writing poems, mostly in Spanish, my first language.
I stopped working when my son was born and finally found the mental space to cull my poems into a collection, “Entre domingo y domingo,” which won Colombia's National Jose Miguel Arango Prize.
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I then turned to my English verse, writing and publishing two chapbooks “Reverse Commute” and “mid-life.” In 2022, my book, “A Petit Mal”—a lyric, hybrid exploration of my family’s collision with disease and the recipient of the Beverly International Prize—comes out.
Currently, I’m enrolled in the MFA Poetry program at Florida International University, where I’ve studied with Denise Duhamel, Julie Marie Wade, Campbell McGrath and other incredible poets. I’m usually the oldest person in class. My plan is to never graduate.
Poetry, for me, means purpose and pause. Escape and solace. I write in the midst of problems. My poems tend to be straightforward—they say, this is it. As Louise Glück writes, Opacity is fear. I believe that when we over-embellish what we’re feeling, it’s because we’re afraid of feeling it.
How did you discover NFTs?
For me, the act of reading is one of the closest forms of communion between two minds—that of author and reader. When individuals converse, there is mediation, interpretation, negotiation. A mind before a sculpture, a canvas, a digital image engages in an inner dialogue of interrogation, comprehension, valuation. Music gains narrative when lyrics are added. Films start with a script.
But minds deeply engaged with a text allow the language of the text to become their own. Poetry’s power can extend beyond that of the aesthetic because words become indistinguishable from our thoughts, revealing emotions, ideas, beliefs we didn’t even know we shared.
Meanwhile, the life of a published poem is much too short, much too insular. So, I began turning my work into media-rich video poems that I shared on social media. When I read about NFTs, I knew they were the future. Finally, via the blockchain, I’d found a way of making manifest the value of poetry as art.
I purchased the domain for theVERSEverse.com with the idea of creating a gallery devoted to presenting poems as works of art. My plans were accelerated when I was invited to become part of Artchick’s Etherpoems project, a life-changing experience where I learned about NFTs, their culture, Twitter, Discord, community. There, I also met Kalen Iwamoto and Sasha Stiles, with whom I co-founded theVERSEverse.
Can you describe your creative process?
The spark of a poem is very important to capture in the moment — while it’s ‘still hot.’ The heat of inspiration doesn’t photocopy. Even if I'm just writing gibberish, that spark, that original energy of the poem survives. So I make sure to jot something down if I feel a poem emerging. I can then spend months, even years, editing the poem into its final form. Once the poem is done, then the process of authoring begins, the process of getting poems out into the published world.
What’s so incredible about NFTs is that now, instead of spending so much time and energy in getting a poem published, I can turn my poetry into media-rich spoken-word formats and share them directly with an audience. I feel like NFTs have breathed new life into the process not only of writing poetry but also of sharing my work with the world.
I am grateful for the creative potential of the space—it’s given me the opportunity to collaborate with artists like Ivona Tau, Joelle Snaith, Octavio Irving, Federico Bianchi, and May Toyo—and many more coming.
What has been your biggest challenge in this new world?
One of my biggest challenges has been learning to say “no.” This is a space full of opportunities, and it is important to pace ourselves in order to enjoy the process and not feel overwhelmed or reach a point of burnout. I confess I’m still working on this.
Who are your favorite NFT artists?
Impossible to name them all, but a few of my favorites are:
Until next time,
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