I have rejected a lot of people’s poems, as the primary reader at one press, and a reader and then an editor at Lumina. Sometimes I rejected poems because they were not a good fit, often I rejected them because I did not like them. Some of the manuscripts I read for the Press I was working for I really enjoyed, but being aware that they did not match the presses aesthetic I did not accept them. When I was co-editing Lumina with Megan Williams, our own aesthetics very much went into the decision making process. So many factors are involved with decision making, and our readers definitely played an important role.
I know how subjective journal editing is and how hard it is to read poem after poem and still have eyes fresh enough to spot and enjoy poems that are aesthetically pleasing. Even before I had received the hundred plus rejection letters that now reside in my email inbox, I did not take the process personally. I don’t think anyone should. Particularly with poems like mine, where context is often so important, I reluctantly understand why some are rejected with a copy and pasted note, or returned to me with the phrase “good, but too genre for this journal”. I don’t think anyone should take rejections too seriously. Everyone has different aesthetics. I have read plenty of established journals where I have not enjoyed any of the poems published there. Why should I expect them to accept mine, when I do not enjoy the various poems they have chosen? Also the more established journals have so many options and more established poets to chose from, how am I to take a decision that involves so many factors personally, if I take into consideration how many elements are involved.
Rejection letters, well never a pleasant thing should never prevent you from submitting to a journal.