THE WOODSHOP: Ana Maria Caballero

CutBank continues its new online feature, The Woodshop, with this submission from Ana Maria Caballero. Review our submission guidelines here, then submit your own Woodshop to AMCaballero_Woodshop

Where do you do your work?

I owe my writing to the time my son spent on the boob. Before his birth, one year ago, I used to work 12-hour days for my family’s small wine importer in Bogotá, Colombia. But, during the private hours spent breastfeeding, I decided to stay home and write.

In part, I wanted to be with my baby, but mostly, I felt myself getting old. How easily I’d put off writing for a decade. How easy it would be to sell wine for three more. So now I write from home, in a study my husband and I designed as our playroom, much before we'd imagined a son.

What do you keep on your desk?

Ideally, nothing but my computer and the book I am blogging about. My blog is an endless source of guilt-free distraction, so I don’t need anymore. Right now, I have every intention of doing a piece titled “Like a Prayer,” based on J.D. Salinger’s gentler novel Franny and Zooey, which I finished right before starting The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.

What’s your view like?

From where I sit, I have a deep view of Bogotá. A few sights stand out from the rectangular grid of red brick: swamp green mountains at the far end, thin layers of aluminum smog, the oasis of space around the airport landing strip, the concrete conical hat of the stadium roof and the eucalyptus trees planted throughout.


At a lesser distance, I can see the inlaid bone table my husband and I bought in the Marrakesh souk when I was six months pregnant. On top of it rests a working Victrola from San Telmo, Buenos Aires. The owner of the antique store where we found it gave us a case of records from The Nutcracker, Madame Butterfly and Singing in the Rain to take home. Most important, I can see the bright orange plastic corral where my baby spends his time, between those moments when I take a break and take him out.

What do you eat/drink while you work?

Bogotá is more than 9,000 feet above sea level, so it’s permanently chilly. To stay warm, I drink liberal amounts of hot water with lemon and dress for a Canadian fall. I am mostly vegan, so when I eat, it’s grapes, broccoli soup and flax seed arepas with almond butter.  The traces of crackers, rice and veggies my son leaves behind are also great to pick on.

Do you have any superstitions about your work?

I try to answer all emails before editing or writing new poems, but this can become a vicious cycle. Late night remains my clearest hour. But my son and husband are both morning people, so I had to adjust my rhythm this past year. The hour-long nap my son takes around 10am is also a very productive time for me. Nothing like a strict deadline.

Share a recent line/sentence written in this space.

Together we become the ancient word: a god released.

Ana Maria Caballero blogs at The Drugstore Notebook. Her work has been published by Toasted Cheese Literary Journal, Boston Poetry Magazine, and The Fat City Review. It has also appeared in online poetry communities such as Kumquat and VerseWrights, and is forthcoming on Eunoia Review. She lives in Bogotá, Colombia.