Their wise-after-the-event proferred opinion is often mocked, but contrary to popular thought which depicts them as raging malcontents in search of a parting shot, the poets who’ve not been accepted into a magazine are perhaps (and I say this with humour) uniquely placed in critical relation to its content. Attentive and close readers alert to be horrified in detail about what you’ve chosen over them, the *idea* of their successful poems in their head is what they’re going to be comparing your choice again. This probably hasn’t made it onto the page, but their peerless intentions are useful phantoms for benchmarking others’ last best efforts and the decisions of the editors.
For journals are nothing if not displays of editorial taste. An editor recently said at an event I was at that she wished people would send her different sorts of poems, but why would you, unless you didn’t care whether you were published by that journal or not. There is a sort of catch 22 here: if you are writing a poem solely to get it into a certain journal, it is likely to be scuppered by its own sycophancy; but if you’re not, and you don’t care about whether that journal accepts it, where’s your motivation to send?
I suppose the compromise I’m sold on is to write the range of poems I want to write before thinking about who’ll publish them and then try to match them up to opportunity when I’m taken with a notion of self-promotion. We each move the world with us in any direction slowly.