I went to a reading and short Q&A by the poet and translator George Szirtes last night at the Warwick Arts Centre; his New & Collected Poems (which is not actually his entire output, simply selections from all of his published collections) has just come out, and is sitting on the bookshelf above my head, balanced on some volumes of Clive James' TV criticism (my excuse: they were only 50p each.) He seemed about as charming and likeable a man as I can imagine: affable, soft-spoken, and determined not to take himself too seriously (speaking to Michael Hulse earlier this week, he told us that Geoffrey Hill is something like that - the total black and suedehead glower belie his willingness to take the piss out of himself.) He read out, amongst other things, a long poem about rabbits, and about the 18th-C. fish-fascinated poet William Diaper; he joked about his Manchester United fandom, and his non-careers (musician, painter, novelist...) He is, in short, exactly the kind of man who shows up one's multitudinous shortcomings as a human being. Dipping, as I have begun to, into the Collected Poems, one always finds something exquisite, something which, it strikes me, is what I feel poetry should be: an expression of inexhaustibility, the possibility, always, of coming across something that impels. I get the feeling that no-one who ever read this blog wants to read me write about poetry, but it's not something that's going to go away, of that I can assure you.