Things I Am Saving to Write is inspired by Ernest Hemingway’s story “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” in which the main character is unexpectedly and irrevocably faced with his imminent mortality.
As a poet, Caballero uses words to generate images within people’s minds. By using the imagery of her verse as the foundation of AI prompting and then crafting a visual narrative from these images, Caballero brings our collective unconscious into direct dialogue with language’s unspoken connotations, calling forth the entanglements of meaning-making.
Prompting is deeply tied to poetry–writing workshops offer students prompts to inspire poems–but, here, a poem generates visual prompts. In her image curation, Caballero evinces the wide array of emotions that stem from words as well as the tensions between the private and the public, between the mythical and the historic, between the figurative and the verbatim that hide within the layers of verse.
Caballero’s exploration of the poetics of prompts distills the materiality of language, inviting us to contemplate our visceral reactions to words and the vastness of our imagination.
This poem was originally published by Salamander and debuted on March 3, 2023 at New York gallery bitforms as part of the CODE CHRONICLES exhibition, curated by Aleksandra Artamonovskaja.
Things I Am Saving to Write
For Harry and the snows of Kilimanjaro
How airports are cathedrals,
each line a pilgrimage.
The tilt of an airplane as seen from the last
row, its windows open, diving to land.
My daughter’s toy butt. A wireless
microphone crushed on the ground.
Botox. The cat that hunts birds
in my son’s school. Monarchy as marriage.
Parenting as presence, as coffee. How nudity
is not pretty, only startling, like a snake.
Stained glass behind purple fabric.
Fabric. How grass can crack
a tennis court. The professional passive
aggressive anger of a flight attendant.
Small cookies. Pale cut fruit. Loud clocks.
How sex is not touch. How forgetting
is not the opposite of remembering,
but remembering is always the opposite
of forgetting. Why we say inelegant and not
unelegant. The icy eek of a piano’s first key.
A film credits’ final name and what it means
when you watch to the end.