Writing on the Rock, which takes place on Denman Island, B.C., in early August, is now my favourite writers’ festival. No parking problems, no lineups, no sold-out venues, and workshops where you sit down and write. On the first night it was the Poetry Coffee House, which advertised an ‘open mike,’ a phrase that usually scares me away, but a friend of mine was reading and so was the poet Tom Wayman, so I took a chance. The event was held in the elementary school library, and readers wrote their names on a portable chalkboard at the door. Everyone sat together in rows of grade 6 chairs and one by one the readers got up and read, which they did very well. There were only a few dull moments, the intermission snacks were homemade, and Wayman, who read next to last, was worth waiting for. He’s a lively, even frenetic reader, whose poems tell stories about working people and everyday life. In many of them he takes a whimsical turn, such as the poem that describes his drive from Alberta west through B.C. in a car that sprouts all kinds of lush greenery along the way until finally its wheels turn to wood and it comes to a halt, never to go again. After the reading I bought one of his books, I’ll Be Right Back (Ontario Review Press), because I like reading poetry while the poet’s voice is still echoing in my head. A few weeks later I came across another of Tom’s books, The Astonishing Weight of the Dead (Polestar), on my own bookshelf at home, and inside I found one of my favourite poems, “Did I Miss Anything,” which talks of angels descending from heaven to deliver divine wisdom in reply to a student who has missed a class.