Following the second inauguration and the poem read by Richard Blanco, there has been a lot of joke-making and forced levity from the usual circles about poetry. (It says a lot about our times that people so often feel a burning need to be clever on command.) As you'd expect, making fun of poetry was a bipartisan activity. Personally, I can't separate my aesthetic take on that particular poem from my take on the day's politics, nor would it be intelligent to try, so I won't offer an appraisal. But it seems that poetry is being discussed in large part as a stand-in for a certain kind of culture, and that's interesting.
Now, I could easily write a critical take on all this. I read a poem that is better than 2,000 years old the other day and enjoyed it; you can make your own judgment about the longevity of the Downton Abbey recap you just wrote. But really, it's not necessary. Poetry-- like long-form fiction, orchestral music, abstract visual art, and difficult movies-- needs no defense. Poetry is to be enjoyed. If you don't enjoy it, don't read it. I read hand-wringing pieces about whether the kids these days are reading great novels, and I'm always perplexed. Who cares? I read them. I don't care about whether other people are interested, nor do I associate reading novels with virtue. It affects whether I'm interested in someone romantically and impacts whether I find someone interesting, sure, but outside of the aggregate impulses of friendship, why does it matter?
Where things become dicey is in the enforcement of dislike. Many people experience anxiety about media and culture they have a vague notion they're supposed to like. I am sorry that they feel that anxiety. They shouldn't! I think young people should be exposed to lots of different kinds of art and media, but once you're past the age of taking a curriculum, yuo should enjoy what you enjoy and not worry about the rest. But that doesn't excuse efforts to undermine other people's enjoyment. Depending on how charitably you read this piece, you can call this either the Dan Kois effect or the reverse Dan Kois effect: I consider myself a sophisticate, yet I don't like a certain kind of artwork, therefore I must undermine the very possibility of someone else liking it. This is uncharitable, and bound up with the endless signalling and personality assembly that underlies our digital media. Because I'm a masochist, I did a Twitter search for "poetry sucks" and "poetry is bad" and a few similar terms after the inauguration. The results were as you might expect.
(I would suggest that if as an adult you saying something that is indistinguishable from an eight grader complaining about his English teacher, you might reconsider.)
Now, I can't manage to occupy the headspace that would dismiss an entire medium; it's like saying "movies are bad." I haven't seen every movie so I can't say what all movies are like. You can certainly say "I don't like movies," and while I would suggest that you try a few more, it's your prerogative. And you can say "most movies don't really rise to a level of being good art." I've said the same about video games, in the process of defending them as an art form. But even with those more limited statements, you'd probably want to be vaguely familiar with the landscape. I mean I wouldn't want to say that most movies are bad if I haven't seen more than a dozen in the past year.
So my suggestion is that if you can't name five contemporary poets writing today, if you haven't read a collection published in the last five years, if there was no poem that could have been read that would have made you happy, if you don't have favorite poets-- you probably should just stick to "I didn't like that poem" or "I don't enjoy poetry." In that case, jam on; it takes all kinds. It's okay not to like things. The universalizing impulse is a problem, though, and likely not generated by an honest reaction but rather to be seen in a certain way by your peers. I would argue that if you know nothing about poetry and say that it's all bad, you don't have an opinion, a reaction, or a feeling. You have a signal.