"For those of you who dont know me, I’m Organizer Stan. Some of you who do know me, know that I tend to get excited about something, jump in with both feet, and then think. Well, Ì’m going to tell you why I got excited about Tom Cull.
"The question is what does Tom Cull have that can compare. He does have a PhD in English literature. But he doesn’t have any books published: His first will be released this fall.
"But what Tom has or has not produced didn’t have any effect on why I asked him to read. In fact, I hadn’t seen any of his poetry at all. For all I knew he only writes limericks!
"My God, what was I thinking!
"Well, I’ll tell you. When I was trying to think of who to ask to be the second reader, it occurred to me that they might feel like they were playing second fiddle to Davey’s first fiddle. That bothered me a bit, and suddenly I had a great idea. Instead of trying to get someone who compares with Frank Davey, why not look for someone at the very opposite end of the spectrum. So they balance each other.
"On the one pole, you have the man of great accomplishment, and legacy and influence. On the other pole, you have... a beginner!! Sure...What an idea...For about a second. How do you find this beginner. I’m a beginner. If I read my poetry to you, you would all walk out.
"No it would have to be a very special kind of beginner. One with a big future. Frank Davey himself was this person when he was starting out. But how to find him before his future begins? It’s impossible. Nevertheless, the moment I thought of this idea, the name Tom Cull popped into my head. And I just could not shake it.
"So why the name Tom Cull? And why would I think he might be that special poet with a big future?
"Well, this room is where Poetry London holds it’s monthly readings. In the room right behind us, for the hour before the reading, they have a workshop. I’ve been attending it on and off for a couple years now. We take one poem from each of the featured readers, plus a couple of ours, and really read them deeply, spending a lot of time looking for the sources of beauty, the themes, the different aspects of the poetics, figuring out why a line was written this way instead of another. Pretty soon the poem opens up before our eyes, in it’s totality. It’s quite amazing.
"The more I attended these workshops, the more enthusiastic I got. Tom Cull and Ola Nowosad were the workshop facilitators. They took turns but it seemed that most of the time I came happened to be when Tom was on. And the more I watched him do his thing the more enthused I got about him, to the point where I was coming to the Poetry London readings mainly to watch Tom facilitate. The thing is, I began to notice that he has a kind of light but very deep empathy, if that makes any sense, not only for the poets, but also for the aspects of the poems, and even moreso for us attendees. When we would point out any little thing, he would be right there with us, even ahead of us, helping us along. And that was another thing I noticed, that he was always right there, exactly in the moment. For someone who is always held back by anxiety, it was wonderful to watch. I began thinking that if I had those exact same characteristics, I would be a far better poet than I am.
"So there is is. Now you know.
"Who knows where he will go. He might end up being an accountant in a couple of years. Or, more likely a veterinarian. But on the other hand, Canadian poetry may only be seeing the very beginning of Tom Cull’s poetic legacy.
"Ladies and gentlemen, Tom Cull..."
FIVE POEMS BY TOM CULL
INTERVIEW WITH TOM CULL