My hunch is that American readers, even poetry aficionados, don’t read a lot of contemporary British poetry. The Irish lyricists get plenty of deserved attention, but their Anglo-Scottish counterparts–indeed, all the Commonwealth literatures (hear much about the great Australian Les Murray?)–are somewhat ignored, with the exception of Derek Walcott. Personally, I know almost nothing about newer stuff by Brits; my experience of their recent literature has mainly come through reading novels. But while studying for an exam a couple years ago, I did come across Carol Ann Duffy, Scottish resident of Manchester, born in the mid-1950s, publishing great short poems since the 80s.
She’s genuinely famous in the U.K. and was named Poet Laureate last year (the first woman to get the job), but Duffy isn’t taught much in American universities or written about in out literary mags. In lieu of me burping on about her anymore (she’s really good), I give you a BBC biography site and a link to a recent Guardian profile.
Google her. Read whatever comes up and also be advised that her Selected Poems (published as part of the very cool Penguin Poets line in 2004 and again in 2009, in a better-looking edition) is available on Amazon.com for as little as three bucks.