Voices Silenced at Birth

Voices Silenced at Birth

A Poem by jacob erin-cilberto

Voices Silenced at Birth





"thank you for your submission, unfortunately, we will not be using any of your poems at this 


wrote the editor, gagging on his own laughter---

knowing the discouraged poet will feel like 

slitting his tedious throat, or blowing up his cacophonous computer

(riotous sounds of stonewalled words)


the power of the rejection,

like a discounted advance

asking to dance and getting a coldly polite

"no thank you"

(you're too short, not Robert Redford enough or 

dressed well enough to indicate status)

and your words as well, poor panhandling prosy pitiful and plain Jane


"We read your submission carefully"  ( ha ha, yes, he will believe this---)

"we get so many poems, it is impossible to publish all of them"

(chortling, as the editor thinks "i love slamming doors in their pesky little

faces---)  "oh do please submit in future, we would love to read more of your 

work" (even though we didn't actually read these, we just pretended)

and now your poetic ego is upended


and Sylvia Plath has company---she is wherever she is now, still trying to get accepted into

Frank O'Conner's short story, writing class---

her embarrassed kids grown up without a mother, one of them

unliving in the same dimension where she found her peace, at last---"Good God Almighty,

peace at last"

a damsel of tragically unfinished business----


editors have the power to elate and the power to deflate----


and some writers undevelop

as if lacking fortuitous film

they are a photo finished

in flux


critics weigh in so heavily they smother the druthers

to poem.

to live

to poem


suicide syllables

put their mouths into ego's sheet

and no morning comes,


while others gloat over their dawn coffee

never sleeping,

just keeping

would be wordsmiths


from ever becoming.






© 2017 jacob erin-cilberto

My Review

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Featured Review

I think I'd prefer to see myself in a magazine print, and save my book for self publishing for family and friends. I have letters from many years ago when I first started writing and submitting to various publishers - I even saved the letters of rejection that read - word for word - like you stated here.

Well done, Jacob. I'll be happy with being "a would be wordsmith"!

Posted 6 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

jacob erin-cilberto

6 Years Ago

there is no "would be" Kelly....you are such a good poet...
Kelly Scheppers

6 Years Ago

I appreciate that, Jacob. Thank you so much!


Those paltry publishers never recognizing the genius displayed before them, how dare they! Pesky editors blue penciling our manuscripts! We should tar and feather the lot of them! Okay, rant over before someone starts taking me seriously. (smile) But I get the feeling here. Our world is more rejection than reward but "to be a poet is a condition and not a profession", according to Frost. It's a fine condition though, I think. Poets are the great empathizers, the great visionaries, the great observers and painters of words the rest of the world have no colors for. Remember that old Chicago tune, Color My World? Poets do that. Of course, painters and other visual artists do too but every craft and art has its tools and toils and triumphs. I can probably name five poems by Frost without hesitation but that's out of thousands and I have an entire book of his poetry. What makes a successful poet? I think that will be better judged by the oeuvre than the few titles memorized by school children. But mostly dead poet's get that sort of attention. I think I might have a few poems left I want to add before joining that honorary group. Here's to keeping the writing and the visions alive.

Posted 2 Months Ago

jacob erin-cilberto

2 Months Ago

Yes, I remember that Chicago song...
Frost is right...it is a condition.
Thank you for.. read more
Powerful and poignant. Superb work.

Posted 2 Months Ago

jacob erin-cilberto

2 Months Ago

Thank you, Thomas.
Just found this randomly and loved it, I think most of us have a stack of rejection slips, hidden about somewhere, thank f**k for the nurturing environs of the Café,

Posted 4 Years Ago

jacob erin-cilberto

4 Years Ago

i agree...the nurturing keeps us returning to the key board.
thank you, gram,
A cliche comes to mind . . . "It's jungle out there!" . . . a newer one: "Been there, done that!" I've come to admitting, I don't have a clue what editors want!! I have a subscription to "Poetry" and I'm wondering why! What is that stuff!!!??? What relevance does some of this have to a real world?! I'm guessing most poems sent to academic presses are first read by some freshman who doesn't have a clue. Many say that a selection must be approved by all the staff . . . what's the matter with the editor calling the shots!? I've been told the poetry publishing world is full of incest . . . you print mine, I'll print yours! The few poems I've had published . . . I wonder why they would choose that one!!!! I realize my poems seldom fit the postmodern poetry world.
I did have one editor admit . . . it's a very subjective business. I admired her honesty. Well Jacob . . . you really got me stirred up . . . you crazy radical! Thanks.

Posted 5 Years Ago

jacob erin-cilberto

5 Years Ago

yes, very subjective and we have to remember that for sure.
thanks for dragging this one back.. read more

5 Years Ago

Not sure how I found it!
I have only once entered an open poetry competiton ( had to pay a fee to enter) and never even got a reply or saw the winning poem published .. just a name.
So my poems are self published into books mostly for a little legacy for my grandchildren .... and it was a lot of fun doing the self publish that was a learning curve in itself and cost me zero money.

Posted 5 Years Ago

jacob erin-cilberto

5 Years Ago

self-publishing is the way to go...for sure...poetry is a tough business, but then we do it because .. read more
WHOA! This is the most straightforward & powerful message of yours I've read so far! It's unlike you to be so blunt, but every word is so believable, for those artists with high hopes. Then there are those of us who never expected anything anyway, shooting out poems like farts that will dissipate, hopefully soon. The title is misleading & all the more powerful becuz of it. The Plath parallel is haunting & stunning in its aptness for this scenario. You remind me of the hopelessness in this quest to be published & now I remember why I never try! *sigh!* Fondly, Margie

Posted 6 Years Ago

jacob erin-cilberto

6 Years Ago

thank you for your kind and insightful words, Margie...
Fantastic Jacob, love the permeation of sarcasm. Yes I have an image of editors having the small man syndrome a bit like the little sergeants bullying and belittling the new army recruits, its their little kicks for the day.

Posted 6 Years Ago

jacob erin-cilberto

6 Years Ago

yes, their little kicks...

thank you, andrew...
I too had my rejection letter. thanks for sharing love this one. Keep sake./

Posted 6 Years Ago

jacob erin-cilberto

6 Years Ago

ah so many on this end...and the worst, or best one was just one written word in quotation marks...<.. read more
Funny how I bumped into your poem when I recently received 3 rejections. Oh your echo was right on there email. I guess a would be wordsmith am I!


Posted 6 Years Ago

jacob erin-cilberto

6 Years Ago

you are already a wordsmith,Al....and a very talented one...

Alfred Kukitz

6 Years Ago

Thanks! Hope your watching The Vietnam War!

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24 Reviews
Shelved in 2 Libraries
Added on September 16, 2017
Last Updated on September 16, 2017


jacob erin-cilberto
jacob erin-cilberto

Carbondale, IL

Originally from Bronx, NY, I live in Carbondale, Illinois...teach English at a community college and have been writing and publishing poetry since 1970. I am here to read for inspiration from other po.. more..


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