Billy Collins (unfortunately)
If you expand that list to include poets who died in the latter half of the twentieth century you get
the list goes on and on and on.
There's a serious problem with people who don't READ poetry lamenting the state of poetry. Those are all important poets and anyone interested in poetry should recognize those names. Don't know of any good poets? Maybe you should go out and buy some of their books, asshole.
In an article headed "Literature Will Not Survive the Twentieth Century," Hungarian poet Gyorgy Faludy discusses literature today:
I don't know what happened, I can't explain. Literature can't be explained. Nowadays, a poem is published and in a year it is forgotten. Back then, a poem in a periodical like Nyugat or the Pesti Naplo was something to be proud of. Irodalmi Jelen, a periodical published in Arad, still has things worth reading. But even they have trouble filling 16 pages with the raw material they have to work with. Once, new books generated discussion. But there's no criticism. Since I returned home, I've had two serious reviews. Seventy years ago, if people had asked me or somebody else to list a few poets who'd survive the 20th century, I could have listed 10 or 15 names. Now? Name a poet who will definitely be remembered a century hence? You can't, can you?
Faludy also compares the falling numbers of books being read by Americans to the Dark Ages, which I think is taking things a step too far. However, I think he is right to say that there isn't a critical milieu in the way there used to be. Even (or maybe especially) in the "Blogosphere," have there been memorable discussions on novels and poetry? Other than to say "this is a good novel" or "this is a good poem/poet"? The attitude seems to be that nobody reads anyway, so you shouldn't say anything critical or that could be misconstrued as pejorative because we don't want to "piss in the fragile ecosystem of literature" to paraphrase Dave Eggars. But really, we need serious reviews and in-depth discussion and disagreement to have a literature at all; that is to say an environment conducive to good writing is one in which there is a constant, intelligent dialog about writing, and we let that slip away at our own peril.