"There's one thing about Gerry that's very important. He has a strong ego but it's an ego that can assert itself without diminishing other people. And I think that's a rarity. It's a rarity in this city, and it's a rarity in the world."His direct straightforward unapologetically forthright poetic style and way of capturing phonetically in print the real voice has been an inspiration to meself over the years.
I began referring to this adopted Mancunian resident's Scouse voice as England's real poet laureate some years ago when commenting on the Guardian; because what he is doing and the poems he writes memorizes and recites in his one man theatre shows, are truly the voice of the real unashamedly loud proud and out essence of a uniquely inclusive warm kind English culture.
One that is too clever, too creative, too full on, too honest, too real, too peroppa Scouse working-class for your average aspirational would be English courtier page poet of the barely perceptible epiphany, to respond to in anything other than awed, and, all too often, sadly, envious silence.
His sincerely astonishing poetry is authentically amazing, and honestly the most powerfully visceral and memorable I have heard in a live setting in England.
Life-affirming, soul-enriching, and great, in the most positive cultural sense and meaning of this often unthinkingly and tritely deployed adjective.
As my old drama tutor at Edge Hill used to say, it'll turn your cardigan inside out.
And this expert life-long creative genius resides in a live poet with the most technically perfected turn on a sixpence ability I have heard in all my time as a student and listener of poetry voices, both in Dublin for the last thirteen years, and in England for the thirty-seven prior to that.
One that has spent its entire theatrical existence running on stage through the full accentual register of the English language Voice.
Able to tackle, take on, imitate, and perfectly capture all verbal points of nuance across the two extremes of the English accentual class register.
From the most nonthreatening and pawshest dahling lahvy poety poos ehn awfleh nace - to a terrifyingly rock 'aard in ye face ooh aaarrgh ye laaargh menace of a dead boss real North inner city Scotty Road Scouse.
And this Old Lancashire language expert and culturally underground legend brilliantly brings the heartbreak, sorrow, and laughter-sounding love song of Liverpool to life in a voice that "takes off like a jumbo jet set for heaven:
Carrying it's roar on winged prayer, / Jesus is in there, so are Mary and Joseph, / a religious motif kicking like a mule / schooled by gravitas, failed by school. / Gravels like a death rattle / arrogantly assuming Resurrection, / and sometimes can't be aaarsed meet'n makers. /
It's protection against the worst laid / plans of movers and shakers. / Sounds honest, even when lying / 'onest. No denying the conviction it can / carry if it needs to escape. / It'll convince you statues can fly / while drinking ye drink / make ye think you're listening to ye best mate. //
Runs through sewers, floats on / updrafts of gossip and jangle / it's passionate about Misses Millaney not geh'n a paper tha' day! / I love the way it bounces off walls / and ricochets like a hail of neon bullets / in a hall of mirrors // it's brothers, sisters, a family / of flat vowelers partying in sing-song / intonation.
Dances in hotpants, has nothing to prove / one thousand intonations under a groove, / with kick assonance attitude / a pop-cultured reference, rock 'n' roll, / heart and soul, and rude.As is usually the way with one off and wholly original working class autodidacts' live and literary voices; few 'serious' page-bound poety-poos of the minor personal epiphany are ever gonna respond to it by volunteering to praise such a superlatively genuine poetic voice, talented and able to capture the essence of us all as this poetry in print.
One that paints the complex messy truths of human existence with the absolute originality of lyrical language that puts Potter up there with the very best in England.
Indeed live, he is the best. No ifs no buts; just a fact. Or at least opinion of many who have fallen in love with this unique man's imagination, mind, mouth, heart and humanity.
Most Page poets of what Gerry labels, the bourgeois zeitgeist, even though when we see him recite live, and hear this superlative English talent and know that the language we are witnessing is more memorable than the contents of a dozen bourgeois zeitgeist poets' collections from a hundred Forward Prize long-lists; ninety percent of what we talk about in poetry, and most of what makes it into the broadsheet literary pages, is from the old school courtier Caxtonian networking PoBiz model of the minor personal epiphany. Only ten percent of which contains anything close to the memorability of a Gerry Potter poem.
And because those poets who never dilute, modify, tone down or sell out their working-class identity on a point of principle are excluded from mainstream public conversation in a process of deliberate omission by the administrative pashas, potentates and royalist gatekeepers curating Official Verse Culture's contemporary narrative of what and who is happening in poetry; hence why the average language lover is left to respond when the topic of the best living poet in England crops up, Gerry who?
An easy self-deception. Nobody else is writing of this poet because there are more artificially 'important', more corporately coddled and PR elevated state-approved and supported next generation this poet, yes generation that poet; and so it is no gen him, him no, her no, reject reject reject. And thus the complete excision of the poems of Gerry Potter from the best of in England lists.
The greatest gob of poetic truth and working-class beauty to have been birthed out of Liverpool speaking song since the days when Athlone native and former literary and political journalist, T.P. O'Connor, was representing in Westminster the constituents of the Scotland Road ward.
Who first secured his seat in Gerry Potter's home electoral constituency as a Home Rule League Party MP, in 1885.
The first and only MP in history to have been voted in to an English seat on an explicit Irish Home Rule platform; and who served as the MP for Scottie Road until the day of his passing on the eighteenth of November nineteen twenty-nine.
At which time, with unbroken service of 49 years 215 days, he was the longest serving MP in Westminster.
The last Father of the House to die as a sitting MP until Gerald Kaufman in 2017.
And Potter, with a mind much like O'Conner's. Beneath whose bust, fixed on the column of a doorway entrance sandwiched between a Barclay's bank and Sainbury's at 72-8 Fleet Street, London, is a plaque inscribed with the following, that could as easily apply to Gerry Potter: "His pen could lay bare the bones of a book or the soul of a statesman in a few vivid lines."