This reminds me of the "greatness" discussions that went around a few months ago, starting with Gregory Orr's [is that who it was?] article (also in the NY Times I believe) mourning that there was no longer any Great Poetry as in the days of Lowell.
The obvious similarity which the Jackson article understood but Orr apparently did not was the change in the interface of Greatness. Lowell was great in large part because the Academic Poetry Establishment decided that he was to be the great poet of the moment. A lot of folks in poetry still wish this was the case and they try their darndest to make it happen (such as with the Dickman brothers), but the whole process of dissemination has obviously changed, become more fractured.
In a comment to a previous post of mine, Max harrangued me for suggesting that poetry will not exit the academy. And I think it's true that poetry has had ties to some version of the academy (an idea that has of course changed substantially along with our idea of the role of poetry in that academy) and will continue to have those ties. And I don't think it's inherently bad. But I do think it's important to keep criticizing the dynamics of the institution.
But it's also true that a lot of poetry happens outside of the academy and always has. Many of the reoccuring commentators on this blog do not teach in the academy - I don't think Andrew Lundwall, Blake Butler or Ron Klassnik have teaching gigs - . There are many channels of poetry and writing these days on the Net and elsewhere, it's impossible to get everyone to gather around a Lowell-like figure (they failed too back in the day - see San Francisco).
Folks in grad school now seem to have access to a less hierarchical view of poetry, and have more access to poetry as it's happening, than I did when I went to grad school. So this has changed the nature of poetry in the academy substantially and will continue to do so.
There was another article about MJ yeterday that I disagreed with; it made the argument that Michael Jackson became less of a good dancer starting with Thriller and moonwalking because he lost his naturalness and spontaneity. Michael Jackson natural? I thought that the whole appeal of MJ's dancing was how freakish he was.
One more thing: I get a lot of comments and emails who work under the assumption that I despise The University of Iowa and MFAs in general. Neither is true. I think the MFA is a potentially good thing. But like everything else I think we should discuss what's going on at these places. Etc.