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‘I love this time of year. Easter, the Masters. My birthday.’

‘Does that mean we can expect the traditional order of unread poetry books?’

‘Then there’s the Grand National. I love the National.’

‘Are you listening?’

‘Do you have a problem with that?’

‘Actually I do. Specially when there’s work to do.’

‘I thought you’d cracked it. Finished it. Moved on.’

‘By poets you have no intention of reading.’

‘So have you?’

‘Something’s come up. A problem.’

‘I think you’ll find I read all of them.’

‘Quite a big problem actually.’

‘And make notes.’

‘It’s not just the title. It’s the whole thing. The sections. The ordering. Everything.’

‘They feed me. They open me up.’

‘I mean it. Everything.’

‘To what’s possible.’

‘Everything.’

‘Ilhan Berk for example. Translated by George Messo. A year ago I’d not even heard of him.’

‘He’s dead.’

‘I know. But to me he feels rather alive. Plus I’ve just found a new book by him.’

‘But we should -‘

‘New to me at any rate.’

‘But you could finish this now. Today, if you wanted.’

‘What if I don’t want to? What if I want to read Birhan Keskin instead?’

‘Sometimes I despair.’

‘Don’t say that.’

‘I do. It’s within touching distance and you squander it. You have no focus.’

‘You wouldn’t understand.’

‘Try me.’

‘It’s called backing up.’

‘Avoiding the problem you mean.’

‘No, not avoiding it. Dealing with it by going another route. Acknowledging the stuff-up I have made of things, we have made of things, and finding a solution by -‘

‘By reading Ilhan Berk?’

‘By reading Ilhan Berk, exactly. It’s no different from driving to Dartmoor for the day. Or sitting on the beach at Budleigh and watching the light. It doesn’t look like writing, but writing is what it is. It’s about gaining a perspective that being here, with you, won’t achieve. I’m sorry.’

‘I see.’

‘No you don’t.’

‘No, I don’t.’

‘You never do.’