I 100% feel this and it makes me so sad because it took multiple classes with really good professors as a literature/cw student (kind of ironic I guess) to break me out of this mindset to the point where I could actually enjoy reading poetry. I think part of the issue is that actual contemporary poetry rarely gets taught in favor of “Old Masters”-type stuff, so we rarely get exposed to poetry written with respect to the world we know. (Not to say poetry can’t be timeless and relatable across generations, but it’s often treated like that’s the default and I feel like that pushes people away). People usually have tastes in poetry as they do in other media, and, for me, part of starting to enjoy the medium was figuring out that it’s okay to not enjoy certain poems in the same way I don’t enjoy certain books or films. Which is like, a super basic thing in terms of consuming media, but it was so hard to grasp for me with poetry.
(That said I’ve always really loved Dover Beach, I think for the same reasons I love post-apocalyptic fiction and Dark Souls anything that’s super melancholy, but that was my exception.)
There are some really great suggestions here already (and I am not a poetry expert in any sense whatsoever, just a fan), but a personal favorite of mine is a poet named Sally Wen Mao. She has a couple of books—Mad Honey Symposium and Oculus—that do some creative and interesting things with cycles and form and plot threads throughout different poems. She also has a poem called Lavender Town, and yes it’s about what you think it’s about. Re: my previous comment about poetry written with respect to the world we know.
I also really enjoy spoken word; it’s always been easier for me to get into a poem if it’s read aloud. A personal favorite there is What’s Genocide by Carlos Andrés Gómez (Major CW for discussion of genocide, self-harm, suicide, violence, sexual abuse, and racism).
I will be avidly following the other recs in this thread, which are awesome. Thanks for making it!