I've just returned from reading at the Other room in the old abbey inn in central Manchester, it was the 29th edition of the series and one of the highlights of my year in terms of poetry.
The invitation had a special significance for me. Firstly, the Other room is a project I have followed as closely as any other - the web presence being a vital resource for British poetry, plus the readings are always meticulously recorded, both with performances and interviews and I've been able to follow some of my favourite poets partaking - Tim Atkins, Jeff Hilson, Philip Terry, Holly Pester etc... Secondly, those who organise the series, and seem to represent succinctly the surge of amazing innovative poetry emerging from the contemporary North West scene, have been instrumental in my writing (Tom Jenks gave me my first magazine publication in the sorely missed Parameter, Scott Thurston was one of the first to offer me invaluable critique and support, and Alec Newman published my first collection.) Thirdly, and finally, I have come to see the series as an inspiration for the events I organise and the spirit in which poetry is fostered and supported. The Other room is never dictatorial, never knowing, exclusive or smug - it is open, collective, earnest and centred entirely around the poetry itself. The excellence of work is matched by the atmosphere in which the readings take place and are organised.
The hospitality afforded me was remarkable, those in attendance were welcoming and receptive and the discussions in and around the event were as enjoyable to me as the reading itself. It is a remarkable project and one whose increasing legacy reflects correctly, and brilliantly, on its instigators.
Here is an interview with those who run the series, James Davies, Scott Thurston and Tom Jenks, a resource I am sure will be important in the future: