Huffington Post: "Is American Poetry at a Dead-End?"
A very quick comment because I'm right on deadline, haven't read all of the Huffington Post article and... I'm right on deadline. More to follow after I have, in fact, read all of it and have more time to relax and ponder.
I would say this: there are huge, rural portions of America where poetry isn't a dead-end road because poetry isn't a road at all. It isn't even rough trail. It's maybe a footprint off in the woods outside of the community amongst the animal nests and the broken bottles. A place nobody sees unless they go looking for it.
And that isn't to say that these populations are unintelligent or somehow "less cultured". Don't believe what the urban media has to say on that matter. I write news for a population like this and I can tell you that they're so intelligent that it's all I can do to almost keep up with them.
And it isn't a situation that can be cured by tossing grant money at it or creating special programs to the school or bringing in poetry readings because, while those things may entertain for a little while, the larger act of putting food on the table and creating a better life for one's children always, always takes precedence.
So what to do? Write with relevance - whatever your style or your form. Know your audience and write to the audience where you are. Make it accessible in both a literal and a metaphorical sense. Poetry written in such a way might make a difference because it speaks to their lives, their world. Because, if they have a chance to read it, it might make them feel heard, understood, less alone. Outside of the academic world, most people could care less about modernism. It's not about what is or isn't "poetry." It's about communicating what is relevant. What speaks to them. They'd rather have mirrors. So give them mirrors in which the reflection is beautiful.