Yesterday while researching markets I found this little gem as part of the poetry guidelines (usual disclaimer, guidelines change, errors are mine, yada yada) for On Spec:
Naturally you're thinking, well, that's just his personal taste. You bet. All editors have their own personal opinions of what they want to see. I'm no different. If you don't like it, send your poetry to another magazine. Better yet, start your own magazine. You'll soon see you're no different.
Having said all this and making myself sound like a cranky old fart, please send in your poetry. I want to read it. Really.
In an earlier part of the guidelines he notes (paraphrased for brevity): If you want examples of the kind of poetry I do admire here are a few names: [lists almost twenty names.] Have you at least heard of some of these people? Do you admire their work, or at least relate slightly to it? If you haven't and don't, then don't bother sending me your stuff. I'm probably not going to like it.
He also notes that there are certain kinds of poetry he's not interested in. His challenge--if you can write better than Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats, Alfred Noyes, Li Po, Mallarmi, Baudelaire who perfected the kinds of poetry he doesn't want to see, then naturally he'll publish it but unless you've published extensively in magazines devoted to those forms you're probably not the genius you think you are.
This is true for prose too. If you insist on sending stuff to editors that they don't want to see, you're going to get rejected unless you're an effing genius, and if you're not extensively published in places that actually want what you're trying to ram down the throat of the editor that doesn't want to see it, you're probably not the genius you think you are.
Well said. And now, back to writing.