"If everybody in contemporary verse cultivates rhythm alone, poetry risks declining from an art to a mere activity—an anything-goes pursuit, with poets isolated in small inward-looking schools and composing more and more narrowly on the basis of self-expressive fiat. In such a climate, free verse itself will wither and die. Free verse can be truly free only if it has something to be free from."
-- Timothy Steele, Prosody for 21st Century Poets
Yes, Timothy Steele. "New" Formalists like him (Gioia comes to mind). Not that I've actually read Steele's poetry. (Feel free to accuse me of unfairness...maybe he's actually good!)
One might think, from the quote above, that he's rather simplifying things if he maintains free versifiers cultivate rhythm alone. Makes 'em sound like a bunch of drummers. In the essay, tho, he does concede that excellent poems continue to be written in free verse.
And indeed, his point, in general, is well taken. The limitations of fixed forms and frameworks serve best to help us channel our energies, make them go them farther -- to stimulate fresh expression and more deeply appreciate the nuances & architectonics of poetic (as well as other) language. I like especially his critique of Ezra Pound's critique of meter. There's definitely more to meter than meets the eye, or rather ear. All reasons why I find myself more & more interested in fixed forms these days, while still enjoying the freewheeling qualities of free verse.