Alistair Noon recently questioned, in an email to me, whether the technique of "found poetry" is capable of producing "great" poetry, as opposed to merely good poetry (sorry Alistair for what is probably a travesty of what you actually said). I wondered, what is "great" poetry? Is a great poem one that has influenced a lot of other poetry? Is it one which defines its age (but then, does that means it's tied to its age)? Or is it the opposite - one which somehow seems relevant across different historical periods and different cultures?
As far as influence goes, is that a function of having a small number of poets compared to the population at large (in the past, coming from a literate minority)? There are a vast number of practising poets today, at least in the Anglo world, and probably in the developed world generally, and a fragmentation of poetic practises and communities. In those conditions, how does a single poem or poet influence enough people, or be representative enough to be considered "great".
These half-formed thoughts were prompted by visiting Ed Baker's site, and finding there some startlingly good poetry (I read a chapbook called "The City" - and will be back for more). I'd come across Ed's name, but not his poetry, and it just struck me that in different circumstance - say, if there were fewer people writing poetry, and it was given greater prominence by society in general, then a poetry as good as Ed Baker's might have had a very different fate (I mean to the fate of being read only by other poets wired into that particular scene).
Afterthought: It does seem to me that "found" poetry, cut-up or collage could all be capable of producing "great" poetry in the sense that it defines its age. The poetry of, say, Tony Lopez or Giles Goodland appropriates and makes lyric work out of the all-powerful language of the mass media. In the sense that it also mimics the internal dialogue or "noise" of the mind it may also be representative in a way that appeals to a wide range of people.