Jason Guriel argues that poets need to start believing in the existence of real readers with real needs:
Poetry lacks a critical mass of readers who aren’t themselves also poets. In other words, most of the people who consume poetry are the ones producing the stuff. They can take for granted the needs of their audience because the audience is full of ringers—other poets!—who will applaud on principle or, at the very least, stay mum if the stuff’s no good. We depend on food critics to block the door to bad restaurants. We depend on movie critics to save us the money we might’ve otherwise wasted at the multiplex. But most of us aren’t restaurant owners or movie makers. So no one much wrings their hands over the way we talk about restaurants or movies. In the insular poetry world, we’re all over-invested. We tend to boo the few critics who, by delivering a tough review to one of us, put a pin to the collective delusion. You asked about literary community; that’s one use for it—policing how we talk. I try, then, to write for a reader who has no investment in poetry, who approaches books the way I approach movies or records: as a paying customer who wants to be entertained but who’s also demanding. If such a reader is a fantasy, it’s still one worth believing in.