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Lifting Up the Log #1: "Caterpillar" by Jean Velasco

Editor's note: I was first drawn to this poem not because of the words themselves, but because of what the words were doing on the page. Not just the line breaks, but the joyful abandonment of left alignment, the spaces put in between individual letters of words, the image the words as a whole make on the page, in a subtle but definite way. The way this poem exists physically so perfectly matches the content and overall theme of the work. The line spacing and placement creates a sense of movement that keeps you hooked until the very satisfying ending, and also deeply rewards additonal readings. I am so happy that Jean decided to lift up the log on this poem, and I'm delighted to kick off this series with her thoughts below.

  1. How did you come up with the title? There's nothing obtuse about this title (I hope!). It's the image I saw and the image I've tried to describe.

  2. What can you tell us about the inception of this piece? One day I was taking a long-cut home through the park, and passed a group of kids in a rollerskating class. Wobbling along in single file, with all their little helmets, they looked just like a very comic, colourful caterpillar. I was lucky in that the piece appeared to me almost fully formed.

  3. If we could lift up the log of this piece, what would we see there? Years ago I broke my ankle rollerblading. After hearing that crack and wiggling my limp foot out of the shoe, I've never been game to go back to the sport. So when I see people skating (especially kids, who are fearless) I'm often overwhelmed by a mix of jealousy (of their skill), and apprehension (in case they fall). As I get older, this is a reaction I have to more and more situations, not just skating. I imagine I'm not alone in this, that it's part of aging, hence the loop reference at the end.

  4. If this piece were a small forest creature, what kind of small forest creature would it be? A brave and wobbly caterpillar, finding its many feet.

  5. Is there anything else you would love for readers to know about this piece? I'm glad its found its perfect home.


Are you a previous or future contributor to Gastropoda and want to lift up the log on the piece you published with us? Complete the form below:

Lifting Up the Log is an ongoing series designed to indulge our love for the story behind the story, as well as to give our beloved contributors an additional way to showcase the writing they have shared here.

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