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Jimmy Carter the poet read his own work in Dylan Thomas' hometown, but it was Jimmy Carter the peacemaker who collected an honorary award Friday.

"I feel presumptuous as a poet coming to the home of Dylan Thomas to recite my work," the former president said as he opened a literature center in Swansea, Wales.Swansea gave him its "freedom of the city" award, an elaborately decorated scroll in a gold frame, to mark his work on behalf of peace.

Carter, who published his first volume of verse this year, complained that arts funding in the United States was among the lowest in the world in proportion to the population.

"Under the present Congress, nominated by the Republicans, they are trying to slash public funding of the arts by more than 50 percent," the Democrat said. "I don't think you can make a better investment than in the promotion of the arts."