I've appreciated the thoughtful responses in my comment box to my "Competence and Wit" post, even the anonymous ones, which always make me nervous (who are you, "a"?). I also want to point you to Nathan Austin's blogpost, as well as his entire blog, which is one of the best out there now in my opinion.
There's a lot to respond to in the comments so far, and I know I won't get to even half of it, but I want to clear up one potential misunderstanding that I think is crucial. As Anne points out in her last comment, when either of us frames contemporary poetic competence as the ability to make a poem "fit in" among other poems in a related aesthetic milieu, we are expressly not conceiving this ability as unproblematically a good thing. We're trying to be descriptive, not prescriptive. In fact, I think we would both agree that we have huge problems with the idea that an evaluative poetics should be based on such a crudely chameleonic approach. That's part of what sparked the conversation in the first place.
To reiterate my earlier position, I was thinking of competence as a baseline condition, one that is necessary but (emphatically or otherwise) not sufficient. This might cause confusion, as in some ways sufficiency and competence are close in meaning. But I'm considering competent to mean "possessing all the mechanical and superficial skills without which (it is supposed) important poetic work cannot proceed," and sufficient as "actually using those qualities effectively."
Even here, however, things get more complicated. As one or two commenters have pointed out, there is a lot to be said for deliberately and programmatically resisting notions of competence as a poetic baseline. The question is whether such resistance does not introduce an alternate model of "competence," one which has yet to be defined in coherent terms--which may be where I wanted to begin asking questions in the first place. I put "competence" in scare quotes here because whatever takes its place would have to negotiate the association with "competition" and its overtones of aggression. Is such negotiation possible? Or is any evaluative model doomed to perpetuate the invidious dynamics of oneupsmanship?