Some thirty years ago, Isaac Babel in addressing a congress of fellow writers said that since he could not write the way they wanted him to, he was now the master of “the genre of silence.” It seemed to the editor of this magazine that the title, THE GENRE OF SILENCE, would therefore be appropriate for a journal financed by a government grant.
The title became more pertinent when we in the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery began to realize that no real purpose would be served by a glossy little magazine and that, in fact, we would serve ourselves and our hoped-for public much better by concentrating on a mimeographed magazine already in publication called THE WORLD, A New York City Literary Magazine.
This then will be the first and last issue of THE GENRE OF SILENCE. The editor hopes that it is indeed to some extent a presentation of things they don’t want us to write and also a measure of where good writing is today. It is not easy to produce a magazine in these circumstances i.e. when you are not sure why the money is being given at all. The tendency is to cop out to either side. One falls back then on the old and valid concept of the poet as gadfly and lets him bite where he will.
The issue then contains such work by established writers and new ones as the editor has found exciting, competent, and important.
The editor wishes to thank Joel Sloman and Anne Waldman for invaluable service and help in both editing and production, and Father Michael Allen of St. Mark’s Church in-the-Bowery, who as overall head of the Projects at St. Mark’s has given not only a free hand, but also whole-hearted support to the Poetry Project.
— Joel Oppenheimer, prefatory essay from The Genre of Silence