The London Arts Council has named its newest Poet Laureate who will guide the next era of the city’s artistic legacy.
Mayor Matt Brown broke the news that Western Professor Tom Cull will be London’s newest Poet Laureate.
Cull replaces the former Penn Kemp, who’s held the position since the program was created back in 2011 and he’s excited to carry on the legacy that Kemp created.
“Her legacy is one that I hope to extend,” Cull said regarding Kemp’s tenure. “Openness and inclusion – you know we have this kind of conception of poetry as this high art, cut off from the people and that’s not Penn Kemp at all.”
The Poet Laureate represents the city on a local, provincial and national scale and London is one of a few cities in Canada with this type of program – a program that Cull feels Kemp did the utmost to uphold.
“She was about poetry in the streets, poetry in action – poetry involved in how we shape this city – and that’s what I’m also interested in – how the arts can help us think through what it means to be citizens.”
There are some things though that Cull aims to do differently – to set himself apart – and to continue to enhance the city’s artistic vision.
“I’m very involved in environmental causes in the city,” Cull explained.
“I’m also interested in the overlap between Arts and the environment – so lots of projects, lots of ambition and now I need to sit down with the London Arts Council and hammer them out so we can get moving on them.”
Cull’s intent to expand the literary arts in and around London extends even beyond just that – as he hopes to embrace what London diverse communities has to offer.
“We have newcomers just this year in Canada,” Cull said in reference to Syrian Refugees.
“I want to learn about their traditions as much as they are maybe feeling like they have to integrate – they are also bringing a rich, cultural and artistic background with them. I want to know what that is and I think Londoners want to know too and that’s only going to happen when we have these conversations.”
Cull’s wealth of experience ties in nicely with the community that Kemp has already left in place for him – and while he does hope to promote tolerance and diversity more than ever – he’s upholding Kemp’s traditions of openness and inclusivity within the literary community.
He just wants to see more people expressing themselves in the Forest City.