As an undergraduate at the University of Waterloo, I showed a story I had written to writer-in-residence Gregory Cook. It was called “The Happy Punker Does His Laundry.” Can you guess what happened? A happy punker did his laundry. Also helped a woman in the laundromat give birth and made up a song in his head (“Everybody’s gotta do laundry (laundry!)/ Everyone’s got to get clean./ And everybody’s fat in their own kinda way,/ I think that you know what I mean.”) Greg’s feedback? “Have you ever considered writing for children?”
Happy to say my first children’s book comes out with Groundwood in Spring 2017. Summary in Publishers Weekly Spring Preview: “[Groundwood releases] The Goat by Anne Fleming, in which two children are determined to prove that a goat lives on the rooftop of their New York City apartment building.”
Look at this gorgeous cover for my book of poems. That is called poemw. Because I was making a little handmade chapbook and typed “poemw” instead of “poems.” Oops. Wait! I like that!
Chapter XIII: The Wheelbarrow
Ishmael and Queequeg wheel their gear down to the boat that’ll take them to Nantucket in a wheelbarrow. Queequeg tells a story about how the first time he saw a wheelbarrow, he strapped it to his chest and carried both wheelbarrow and trunk. Then he tells a story about a white naval captain barging into a wedding feast in Queequeg’s village and using the central, honoured drinking bowl as a finger bowl.
On board the ship, “bumpkins” stare and make comments about Ishmael and Queequeg being so companionable. One of them imitates Queequeg behind his back, so Queequeg grabs him, throws him up in the air so as to perform a complete somersault. The man is affronted and complains to the captain. The captain threatens Queequeg. The sails go crazy. The boom crashes back and forth across the deck and knocks the somersaulted bumpkin overboard. Queequeg lassos and secures the boom, dives overboard (it’s cold, December) and rescues the bumpkin, treating it all as if it were no big deal. Ishmael is happy to have such a man as his friend and companion. “From that hour I clove to Queequeg like a barnacle; yeah, till poor Queequeg took his last long dive.”
Chapter X: A Bosom Friend
Ishmael returns to the Spouter-Inn and hangs out with Queequeg, noting his resemblance to George Washington. Ishmael is taken with Queequeg’s ease, calm and apparent indifference to the social. Ishmael’s own agitation and anger — the thing that made him want to knock hats off in the street, presumably — ease in Queequeg’s company. “I’ll try a pagan friend, thought I, since Christian kindness has proved but hollow courtesy.” (On this hint he does not elaborate.) Then they share a pipe: “…and when our smoke was over, he pressed his forehead against mine, clasped me round the waist, and said that henceforth we were married; meaning, in his country’s phrase, that we were bosom friends; he would gladly die for me, if need should be.” Then they go to bed together. “Thus, then, in our hearts’ honeymoon, lay I and Queequeg—a cosy, loving pair.”
I stalled a little. On Day 11. I fear this does not bode well. But I am going to keep going.
Chapter IX: The Sermon
The preacher preaches to them as if they are all in a boat together. Of what does he preach? Come on, guess. Wild guess. Hint: it’s about a whale. If you guessed Jonah, you win forty pounds of whale oil and a pair of matching pillow cases!