Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Chloe Poems - and mentoring for performance

Part of my present, pleasant, meandering, rootless existence saw me meet with Gerry Potter in Manchester's Contact on Monday, completing the round of interviews Sara Maitland and myself have been doing for our forthcoming book on mentoring for Creative Writers.
Gerry has been mentoring for five years, writers seeking him out through loving his work. He's had true success on the fringe for his plays, though is best known through his other being, Chloe Poems.
It was a fun and bracing interview, Gerry cheerfully subverting many of the 'rules' we've sought to apply to this new field as we write the book. We say 'don't meet in anyone's home for your sessions, find a neutral venue'. Gerry loves going to people's homes, taking the biscuits and tea. We suggest 'keeping to your exact hour, showing how writers need to be professional about their time'. Gerry habitually outstays his hour, but not his welcome. He mentors from real wealth of experience, intuition, and infectious enthusiasm. His next project is with a ventriloquist puppeteer in Newcastle whose doll represents her mother. One trick Gerry applies to writing which I like to prompt into being myself his having writers read their work aloud (now sometimes, I guess, without moving their lips). That way you get an intuitive feel of what works, or what Gerry calls 'what is true'.
I'm glad to have his interview for the book. Rules are helpful, guidelines are good, but I've never liked them to be rigid. One of my favourite sayings, even if it's nonsense, is: 'the opposite is also true'.


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