Tom Wayman


Tom Wayman was born in 1945 in Hawkesbury, Ontario, half way between Montreal and Ottawa in the Ottawa River valley. Wayman finished high school, and attended the University of B.C., graduating in 1966 with a B.A. in Honors English. In 1966, Wayman won a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and used it to attend the University of California at Irvine, south of Los Angeles, to do graduate work toward a M.F.A. in English and writing, which he received in 1968.  Wayman has published more than 20 collections of his poems, including My Father’s Cup (2002; shortlisted for the Governor General’s Literary Award), Dirty Snow (2012; winner of the Acorn-Plantos Award) and Winter’s Skin (2013; shortlisted for the Canadian Authors Association Award). His most recent book of poems is Watching a Man Break a Dog’s Back: Poems for a Dark Time (2020). In 2015, Wayman was named by the Vancouver Public Library a Vancouver Literary Landmark with a plaque on the city’s Commercial Drive commemorating Wayman’s contribution to Vancouver’s literary heritage based on his championing of work writing in the 1970s and 1980s. He is a director of the Calgary Spoken Word Festival Society (board president 2003-2012). He co-founded Nelson BC’s Kootenay Literary Society and its main project, the annual Elephant Literary Mountain Festival, and was a KLS director and member of the EMLF organizing committee (2012-2021). He also served on the organizing committee for the New Denver BC annual Convergence Writers’ Weekend (2012-2019), and has helped organize literary programming and readings over the years for Nelson’s artist-run Oxygen Art Centre. Source

Did I Miss Anything?

Nothing. When we realized you weren’t here

we sat with our hands folded on our desks

in silence, for the full two hours


   Everything. I gave an exam worth

   40 percent of the grade for this term

   and assigned some reading due today

   on which I’m about to hand out a quiz

   worth 50 percent


Nothing. None of the content of this course

has value or meaning

Take as many days off as you like:

any activities we undertake as a class

I assure you will not matter either to you or me

and are without purpose


   Everything. A few minutes after we began last time

   a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel

   or other heavenly being appeared

   and revealed to us what each woman or man must do

   to attain divine wisdom in this life and

   the hereafter

   This is the last time the class will meet

   before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth.


Nothing. When you are not present

how could something significant occur?


   Everything. Contained in this classroom

   is a microcosm of human experience

   assembled for you to query and examine and ponder

   This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered


   but it was one place


   And you weren’t here





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:




Education & Learning

Humor & Satire

Literary Devices:

Bleeding Title

when the title of a poem acts as the first line


a line break interrupting the middle of a phrase which continues on to the next line


the expression of one's meaning by using language that normally signifies the opposite, typically for humorous or emphatic effect


the fact of two things being seen or placed close together with contrasting effect

Rhetorical Question

a question asked for effect, not necessarily to be answered


the use of irony to mock or convey contempt