Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Gerry Potter

Wombwell Rainbow Interviews

I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.

The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.

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Gerry Potter

is a poet, playwright, director, actor, and both creator and destroyer of the infamous gingham diva, Chloe Poems. His published works are included in both the poetry and philosophy collections at Harvard University, and the portrait documentary My Name is Gerry Potter premiered at Homotopia in 2015. An Everyman Youth Theatre alumnus, National Museums Liverpool lists him amongst the city’s leading LGBTQ+ icons.

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/oct/28/mother-grief-city-docklands-liverpool-parent

The Interview

  1. When and why did you start writing poetry?

1979 at The Everyman Youth Theatre, Liverpool. Not in any professional way, purely as a teen group of precocious cafe society poets. It was a small gang of us, hopping from caff to caff, reading, only to each other mind, our oft quite silly pieces. I remember really enjoying this part of my Everyman experience, with no idea it would one day evolve into the overwhelming vocation it joyously became. Being part of a hugely improvisational, theatrically creative place, I guess I was always gonna be a performance poet… it was written in the cue cards.

2. Who introduced you to poetry?

Again it was that whole Everyman Theatre vibe, there was so much poetry about, often insanely surreal metaphysical stuff. I was more tuned into and turned on by the poetry/poetics of theatre language. It was an incredibly bohemian era, shabby as sleek, The Everyman Bistro being its bohemian art-beating counter-culturally blasting epicentre. It was full of poets, the preternaturally charming Adrian Henri being one of them. It was always a fully charged lyrically palpable moment being sat in The Everyman Bistro, with him and his glamorously motley crew. Looking back it was halcyon in its rag tag purity and poetry was as much in round tabled conversations, as it was anywhere else.

3. How aware are and were you of the dominating presence of older poets traditional and contemporary?

I was very aware of older poets because I was literally rubbing shoulders with them. The Liverpool Poets, featured heavily in almost everything creative at that time. There was a sense poetry viscerally meant something, was from a determinedly defined somewhere and the peoples responsible were very often in physical touching distance. We had tremendous respect for those older poets, they still felt incendiary, witty, vital and happening, responsible even. They brought with them that individualist anarcho-socialist energy I thinks still fractiously obvious in my work today.

4. What is your daily writing routine?

I’m also an actor and respond very naturally to audience attention and response. So social media plays a huge part in my quite odd writing disciplines. There’s an instant online audience who know my work, a lot of them writers/poets/song writers I greatly admire. I can often take time out of writing, but there’s no real solid routine. Also I’m an old raving hedonist, so there has to be an element of that in the process, it’s still as improvisational as it always was, it kinda has to be a bit raucously fun.

5. What motivates you to write poetry?

High drama and the seedier nighttime ends of experiential living. From very early on I’ve lived a high octane life, big event and weighty drama have always featured, so I write big drama. I write small, quiet too, but it’s the flare ups, the real life action movies, often grabbing my writerly attentions.

6. What is your work ethic?

My work ethic is simply in the haphazard turmoil of doing, the making happen of writing, theatre, poetry. I’m on a mission to write ten books in ten years, I’ve recently completed book eight. It’s far more about what does ten books in ten years feels, looks, reads right… or not right. I like speed and accident in writing, I think it can be valuable as intense concentration. I’m always creating, I never stop, in many ways my work ethic acts as a constant life companion, seriously don’t know where I’d be without it.

7. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?

I’m still hugely influenced by Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol, still my favourite book. I love the almost over-written feel he has, his often deeply poetic descriptive energy. He’s a ‘pictures’ writer, I like to think there’s a small element of that in my work.

8. Who of today’s writers do you most admire and why?

I’m terribly fond of the Scottish comedian Limmy and the band Sleaford Mods. I think they both embody a skittishly natural poetry in their work. A poetry coming from lives uptempo lived and not just acquired by seated learning. They employ a volatile surrealism I naturally respond to, something slightly theatrical I’ve always known. I like risk takers in life, on the page/stage and they have risk explosively banging about their work.

9. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?

I write because I both want and have to. I’m a Scouser and like most Scousers, terribly fond of the sound of my own voice, a voice that sometimes doesn’t quit. I write because there’s still stories to be told, uncovered and often in my case, theatrically presented. I think there’s a sense the creative process, of which writing is one of a few strands, is embedded in me. I’m an auld verse Vaudevillian whose not yet tired of the routines, in fact, is often trying out new ones. I’m far more a ragged, pilled up Judy Garland, than an intellectually intense Larkin.

10. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”

I don’t really do advice, I’m all about the experiential hits of journey, but if you’re serious about anything, you kinda have to surround yourself with it. The only thing I’d say, is writing makes more sense the more you write, same with performance, sometimes, most times actually, you just gotta dive in and drown.

11. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.

I’ve just finished and released book eight, Manchester Isn’t The Greatest City in the world, the Rise and Rise of The Bourgeois Zeitgeist. A book of poetry, prose and two theatre pieces. I’m a compendium, jigsaw writer, life, well my life, feels like many things, I like the books to creatively reflect that.

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