I like your discussion about why poetry is difficult. My challenge as an academic tutor is trying to get past the many barriers students put up around poetry reading and interpreting. I find that a good English teacher does the job of engaging a student, but they are few and far between, I think.
Taking it in little bites is a great suggestion - less daunting. I also find that making connections to my student's own life (and to the real world) as we go helps keep them interested.