Skip to main content

10th February 2014

The Other Room: experimental poetry

Alex Webb enjoyed his first insight into the strange world of experimental poetry at The Castle Hotel

On the 5th February at the Castle Hotel, a small pub on Oldham Street, I entered the world of experimental poetry. Frances Presley, Gavin Selerie and Chris Stephenson read from a number of their published collections and showcased some of their new work to an enthusiastic and engaged audience. Chris Stephenson started with a funny call-and-response list of insults: “milky way buttonhole/underachieving hemorrhoid”. Stephenson’s poems utilised unusual forms with his ‘Revenge of the Mirror People’ being best described as loose, unconnected rambling. However, this was not a bad thing as Stephenson’s work was concerned with reimagining how we define poems and poetry as a genre.

Frances Presley was the most established poet with eleven publications. Her books Mine and An Alphabet for Alina formed the basis of her reading following a theme of ‘trees’ for the night. Presley’s poems were the hardest to engage with as they were fitted precariously around her theme. However, Presley had some of the best poems of the night. My favourites were ‘L is for Logs’, which discusses various stereotypes about women, and ‘Branches’, an interesting take on the “suffering” of a tree. These two are clear indicators of the abstract poetry that The Other Room aims for.

After a short interval, the standout poet, Gavin Selerie took to the stage and read a vast range of poems. Exceptional pieces were ‘Man U’, a poem about MADAM, the first computer built in Manchester, using onomatopoeia and different voices to keep the audience engaged with a positive response. ‘Cloud Head’, read as an interior monologue, really showcased Selerie’s remarkable skill as a spoken-word poet.

Overall I enjoyed my first strange insight into experimental poetry and would encourage anyone who is interested in the genre to go to the next event on the 2nd April at 7pm. Walk through the doors of the Castle Hotel with an open mind and you’ll leave with a refreshing, new understanding of just how vast the world of poetry is. And look out for me in the audience.

More Coverage

The greatest band that never existed: Daisy Jones and The Six review

1970s rock roll never looked so good in Taylor Jenkins-Reid’s sun-soaked dive into LA’s music scene. Full of furious arguments, romantic tension and great music, both the series and the book caters perfectly to fans of 70s music.

Interview with Frederick Studemann: Judge for the International Booker Prize

The Mancunion sat down with one of the Judges of the International Booker Prize, Frederick Studemann, to discuss the importance of translated fiction and the diversity of this prize

Dear Dolly Live: Sex, breakups and tipsy confessions

Find out Dolly Alderton’s thoughts on everything from messy breakups to writing sex scenes at Dear Dolly Live, where “she just makes you feel better!”

Why do we still love Jane Austen?

Jane Austen seems to be everywhere, in film, Urban Outfitters and even in your wallet. We look into why people keep picking up her books even 200 years after her death.