Fifty years ago, there were well under 1,000 poets writing & publishing in English. Today, there are easily over 20,000. A dead-end? Hardly. But what is changing--and unsettling to those who look at poetry without looking at history--is the relation of the poet (and poem) to audience. Writers who want to have just a few poets, each with a mass audience, are doomed to disappointment. But we have not yet articulated in any settled manner what a "successful poetry career" will look like if there are 20 times the number of poets, but perhaps only two or three times the number of readers we had 50 years ago. Every single poet is having to figure this out for him or herself. It's worth keeping in mind that we're in this together.
Reminds me of theater. Every year, programs at universities and conservatories turn out more and more graduates, but the number of Americans who attend theatrical events, (according to the NEA Survey of Public Participation in the Arts,) remains constant or even drops from year to year.