by Ana María Caballero
The Wish is a book that contains one single poem titled, “The Wish,” printed 197 times in its pages. When taken as integers, the digits in 197 add up eventually to 8, a number that represents abundance. This poem is from Caballero’s prize-winning manuscript Mammal and was originally published by the South Dakota Review. Only one edition will be printed of The Wish in a gesture that proposes the book as a sculptural artifact, carved from the wish to see poetry transacted in a way that reflects its cultural value.
Caballero is deeply interested in exploring new ways to transact poetry. The word “transaction” is a good word. When objects are transacted, they are exchanged, shared, given, received. Value is assigned. When a poem is sent to a loved one, the poem lives a new life within the loved one’s mind. Transactions are important. Transacting poetry is important.
SciFi author William Gibson once wrote: “One of the things our grandchildren will find quaintest about us is that we distinguish the digital from the real.” Sometimes verse is considered to be immaterial, ephemeral, ethereal. But there is nothing more material than the songs, artworks, verses, memories, moments that enter a person’s mind as they wait in line for coffee, sit in traffic, boil eggs. Nothing is more material than what makes a soul tick. This poem as sculpture celebrates the materiality of poetry. Every detail of The Wish was selected by the artist, communicating her reverence for verse and for books.
The collector of the physical 1/1 book also receives an MP4 digital file, minted at the collector’s request, of a single page of the book containing the poem “The Wish” and read aloud by Caballero, accentuating the artist’s expansion of the ways poetry can be experienced and transacted, both within and beyond the printed page.