Szirtes was born in Budapest, and came to England as a refugee. Much of his poetry has been collected in The Budapest File (Bloodaxe 2000) and An English Apocalypse (Bloodaxe 2001). Reel (Bloodaxe 2004) was a Poetry Book Society Choice and won the 2004 TS Eliot Prize. He has also been short-listed for the Whitbread and Forward Poetry Prizes. He teaches creative writing (poetry) at the University of East Anglia and the Norwich School of Art and Design.