Poet Laureate Andrew Motion gave pause for thought when he made a guest appearance at the West London Literary Festival to judge a poetry competiton.
After judging aspiring local poets in the Ealing Arts and Leisure Tent on Acton Green on Saturday, he said: "I want to be surprised when I read poetry. The subject is not necessarily the thing I am looking
for, although you can be surprised by it. My advice is don't go and live in an ivory tower; poems belong in the world."
He also captivated crowds by reading some of his work, followed by a question-and-answer session, and then spent time signing books for people.
Mr Motion, who has been Poet Laureate since May 1999, has recently been appointed professor of creative writing at Royal Holloway, University of London.
"My poems are the product of a relationship between a side of my mind which is conscious, alert, educated and manipulative, and a side which is as murky as a primeval swamp," he said.
"I can't predict when this relationship will flower. If I try to goad it into existence, I merely engage with one side of my mind or the other and the poem suffers.
"I want my writing to be as clear as water; no ornate language, very few obvious tricks."
The poets he most admires, as revealed to his audience, are Wordsworth, Edward Thomas and Philip Larkin.
Another familiar face was that of Richard Briers, who lives in Chiswick, who was 'in conversation' with Torin Douglas, BBC media correspondent, on the subject of Desert Island Books.
And on a more serious note, BBC News correspondent David Loyn, James McManus and author Rosie Whitehouse were engaged in a debate on war reporting for a couple of hours.
*The poetry competition was won by Judy Claybourne, from Hanwell.