August Kleinzahler, 2004 International Griffin Poetry Prize Winner, Opens the 2005 Awards Ceremony

My reader is immune to fashion or the Academy’s popular wisdom with regard to poetry it values as “important.” He is an outsider, but trained, through instruction and experience, to identify what it is a given writer is up to and how well he succeeds, or doesn’t, in bringing it off. This reader is an aficionado with a built-in, solid-state crap detector. I regret to say that this reader is not crazy about much of the poetry that I write, and we tend to disagree on a wide variety of subjects. I further regret, however often we disagree, that this sort of reader is on the verge of extinction. This is not the sort of wistful regret for the good old days; this is a regret with a sinking heart, edging toward despair. Because when this reader goes, poetry as a vigorous branch of the arts, goes too.

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