I started mulling over the idea of niceness in women's poetry after three different men -- from different generations, who knew me in different capacities -- read the manuscript of my first book and each responded with some variation of, I really like your poems, but they're not very nice. I can't imagine Eliot's editor telling him that The Waste Land was great, but it wasn't very nice -- niceness is, predominantly, a cultural expectation of women.
The introduction to Plath's Great Poets pamphlet, penned by Margaret Drabble, inspired further ire for reducing Plath to a tragic victim and emphasizing the theme of motherhood in her poetry. Drabble's introduction does allude to both the head in the oven and lactation, but also characterizes Plath's poetry as "appalling… also exhilarating" and avers, "She embodied a seismic shift in consciousness." In case you didn't get it the first time: "She changed our world." I don't know about the women responding to the Guardian piece, but I certainly aspire to change the world; it seems an appropriately high bar for writers of whatever gender.
I admire the work of many of the poets Burt cites, but then I come across his assessment of "Aqua Neon" by Ange Mlinko. According to Burt, this poem is worthy of praise because "Mlinko offers both a likable persona and a sense of place." Are we now evaluating poems based on the speaker's likability? It seems a poor consolation prize, poetry's version of winning Miss Congeniality. I was the Prom Queen; it was boring.