1. An environment vibrant enough to nurture creative output of a high quality.
2. A bold, biased, hard-nosed, lawyer-like, well-read, articulate, passionate, seriously opinionated literary critic with a list.
3. A critical mass of equally opinionated literary critics/authors/reviewers who have their own lists, and are motivated enough to argue over relative aesthetic value.
4. (Most important): a public that cares enough about literature/poetry to read the books, discuss and defend those deemed meritorious, and keep the conversation going over the long haul.