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The Low Door and At the Dawn of Time

Two poems by Yves Bonnefoy

Translated from the French by Hoyt Rogers

The great French poet died July 1st at age 93, just as these two selections were being cued up. Reading them now, in the award-winning translations of Hoyt Rogers, one can’t help but feel a spirit going to the most primary places—cellars and attics of ancient-seeming abodes—to reckon with time and the question of what might lie on the other side of various glimpsed thresholds and doors.

Lethe and Mating Season

Two poems by Tanya Grae

Here are two poems full of feathers and suffused with wanting—of forgetfulness, of transformation. Though it is Virgil who is at one point invoked, the spirit of a modern Ovid presides, as Grae declares: “We can leave/ the dress behind that didn’t fit or fly to a new city/ & wear the metropolis as our skin.” Rustlings and night-sounds abound.

The Problem and Say Forty-Eight Years Have Passed

Two poems by Jim Moore

Moore is a poet of lyrical longing and the bittersweet consolations of longing addressed. How sweetly memory melts into the continuance of things, gestures what is yet to be. And what power of suggestion is found in “the chalky white roads/that wind through the distance in his [Bellini’s] paintings” . . .

from Or Beauty

Poetry by Alex Lemon

Compressed chains of perception create startling sensory bursts. Lemon moves in with close-focus attention to remind us, lest we forget, that the world in our peripheral awareness is at every moment in a state of heady percolation.

Ode to the Dying Moth and Ode to the Molting Cicada

Two poems by Andrew Kozma

Transformation, transfiguration, maybe even transcendence—Kozma’s declarative odes put the lens tight onto moments of destruction and release. If the apostrophizing O’s seem hyperbolic at first, they steadily earn their keep as the lines advance.


Fiction by Thomas Wharton

Wharton combines a rag-picker’s eye for anomalous lore from the natural world—from peacocks to penguins to bonobos—with a sly appreciation of the ironies that spark up when inferences to human behaviors are made. Witty, but also sad and affecting at times, these linked-up tales are full of reminders that we have achieved no evolutionary exemption; we ourselves are subject to just such estranged inspections.

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An essay by Ricco Villanueva Siasoco

Cultural identity caught and examined through recollections and meditative refractions. From the outsized projections of Imelda Marcos, to the contrary image of Pinoy poet Jose Garcia Villa and the multiple webbings of family lore, Siasoco conducts an exploration of the defining associations of his heritage.

Seam Ripper

Flash fiction by Kathryn Hill

The loosening of the threads of a literal seam, so tactile, the seamstress angling the “single-tooth mouth along the puckering ravines” of the material, becomes the instigation of a searching and anguished outpouring—a cry of the heart that leads to a confrontation with first and last things.

I Fell Asleep Among the Horses

A poem by Kathryn Starbuck

This imagined dream among horses becomes a point of historical access as well as a kind of homage to the great Alexandrian poet Constantine Cavafy. We feel the past repossessed through a palpable, almost saturated longing, made all the more vivid by the calm restraint of the poet’s diction.

One Hundred Years of Solitude, or The Importance of a Story

An essay by Oksana Zabuzhko

In an impassioned salvo, Ukraine’s most prominent writer argues that ignorance of Ukrainian history leaves the West diminished and vulnerable. As for who or what is to blame, her country’s habit of silence vies with a willful blindness outside its borders. But in recent years Ukraine’s writers have rediscovered an older tradition that lay dormant for too long—rich and raucous expression.


An essay by Dan Beachy-Quick

A nuanced and implication-laden excavation of a single word—sibboleth. This questioning becomes a way to grapple not only with the gradations of meaning in poet Paul Celan, but also to underscore the huge importance of the smallest shifts and displacements of language, how meaning can teeter on the fulcrum of a syllable.

First Boyfriend

A poem by Chase Twichell

Subtle psychic shifts turn a when—a time of young love—into a where. The past is a place left behind in literal increments, “a long bus ride home alone, small town to small town,” the destination in the end taking the form of a realization that keeps renewing itself.

Jury Duty

A story by William Virgil Davis

Recursive to the point of near-inanity, “Jury Duty” plays the formal public process of peer deliberations against the doubts and vexations that bedevil a jury’s progress toward the receding mirage of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” If the world is, as Wittgenstein proposed, “everything that is the case,” then we surely live in a multi-verse.

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Soft Hunting

A poem by Anders Carlson-Wee

The intensities of kinship in Carlson-Wee’s poem are underscored by the slippery shifting and merging of pronouns—you, me—and somehow driven home by the counterpointing lurchings of a train moving through a city in the night. The evoking of place and sensation is so very precise, while the negotiation of the bonds of relationship remains suggestively mysterious.

Signed Out and At First

Two poems by Elizabeth Rees

Syncopation marks out the momentum and the shape of impulse in these short poems. It’s as if we’ve been given special access to the accelerating run of breath and heart, find ourselves suddenly present at two very different occasions of surrender.

Before the Exam

A story by Rupprecht Mayer

translated from the German by Eldon Reishus

We’ve all readied ourselves for this examination, though possibly only in those dreams that we wake from in a sweat, thanking the kind gods that we are not really being called. How much depends here on the intuitions of faceless power, and the readiness—worse, willingness—to comply.

And a Red Mouth

A poem by Carol Ann Davis

A tribute to Armenian-born painter Arshile Gorky, Davis’s poem uses color and punctuations of imagery and lore to mark out what might be called the space of painterly imagination.  The nouns are artfully distributed and balance like the discrete pendants of a mobile.

Angels and Demons

Aphorisms by Yahia Lababidi

Consider the humble aphorism, its compressed lyricism, its sly swift strike . . . Character-brevity is by no means the brevity of character, and is often enough its reverse. Aphorisms—as we see in this culling from Lababidi—are the distillation of reflection into provocation.

Lyric Language and Trauma

A review of Peter Balakian’s Vise and Shadow by Ani Kazarian

Kazarian explores the complex relation between trauma and the possibilities of lyric fragmentation in the essays of Peter Balakian. Despite a generation separating reviewer and critic, the resonance of a shared  heritage—the weight of Armenian history—can be felt throughout.


A poem by Scott Ruescher

The presence of the “satyr of the sideburns” is ongoing in the collective American psyche, and his encore appearance in Ruescher’s “Dedication” is occasion for a witty, period-soaked inventory of his far-flung fanbase. It’s hard not to smile at the image of “those femme fatales who were born that way / Slurping frappes through straws at clean-cut soda fountains / In streetcar suburbs.”


A story by Glen Pourciau

The power of writing to express inwardness—this we know. But how does expressed inwardness then turn its energies back onto the writer? How does that writer then navigate the often dizzying shifts between his written past and his brooding present? Can we ever really rid ourselves of the traces we’ve made—on paper or in the world?

6th Annual Women’s Tree-Climbing Workshop

A poem by Kasey Erin Phifer-Byrne

Not likely to ever be an Olympic event, women’s tree climbing remains a minority sport. But what intense energies are exerted, and what care goes into establishing relative levels of ascension. Where are the men? It’s a question that Phifer-Byrne’s poem does try to answer.

Word Search and Tonight, I Wish I Were a Dirt Dauber

Two poems by Elijah Burrell

Signification, the capacity of words to embody what they name, is the subtle animating principle in these poems, both of which play with the power of naming and, at the same time, consider the ambiguous spaces created when words are forgotten or repressed.

Tennessee Wedding on VHS

A poem by Karyna McGlynn

Just as an apple can conceal the shape of a feasting worm, so the folksy homespun of a Tennessee wedding is packed here with sly surprise. McGlynn wields a devious wickedness that gets us quickly behind the facades of decorum—a whole future of wedded “bliss” is glimpsed in a few perfectly orchestrated turns of phrase.


A story by Phyllis Rudin

A letter written to register a consumer complaint opens a digressive path into a psyche that has possibly begun to lose its moorings. But the voice prevails, its comical aggrieved bravado trumping the sense of slippage—though it’s also hard to shake the sensation that a tugged bit of yarn might eventually unravel the scarf.

The Moving Sidewalk Is Ending

A poem by Carolyn Guinzio

Such an unearthly dilation is found right here on terra firma as we glide on the moving walkway, and Carolyn Guinzo takes advantage of the possibilities of that receptivity. What happens? A fly, some finches, some ants—their scaled-down doings are suddenly magnified in the imagination. Reading, we feel departure, then arrival, both part of a traveler’s momentary business.


AGNI News and Events

Congratulations to Peter Balakian, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry! The winning collection, Ozone Journal, includes two poems first published in AGNI, “Near the Border” and “Slum Drummers.” Balakian’s work has appeared in the magazine more than a dozen times, starting in 1977.

Shruti Swamy’s story “A Simple Composition” (AGNI 81) has won an O. Henry Prize and will be reprinted in the 2016 anthology The O. Henry Prize Stories.

On May 30th, AGNI author and former U.S. poet laureate Ted Kooser featured Arden Levine’s poem “Offering” (AGNI Online) in his newspaper and online column “American Life in Poetry.”

On May 17th, Three Quarks Daily featured Tyler Mills’s entry at the AGNI blog “Designing Time: The Idea of Plot in the Lyric Essay.” Visit the AGNI blog to read this essay and others.

On May 15th, Poetry Daily featured Kara van de Graaf’s “The Doubles” from AGNI 83.

On the last Thursday in April, the Bay Area bookstore Mrs. Dalloway’s Literary and Garden Arts will feature Edgar Kunz’s “Window Washers” (AGNI 81) in its National Poem in Your Pocket Day celebration. A warm thanks to Mrs. Dalloway’s!

Kirun Kapur’s poem “Girls Girls Girls” (AGNI Online) has been selected for the 2015 Best of the Net anthology!

A new interview by our Sumita Chakraborty at LARB shows sides of AGNI poet Melissa Green that no one else has captured, with a sound and shape rare for author interviews. Five stars!

On November 26th, Poetry Daily will feature Kathleen Graber’s “New Year” from AGNI 82.

Megan Mayhew Bergman’s story “Romaine Remains” (AGNI 79) is cited as distinguished (we knew that!) in The Best American Short Stories 2015. In The Best American Essays 2015, K. E. Duffin’s “Castle Hill” (AGNI 80) and Carol Ann Davis’s “On Practice, School Buses, Hummingbirds, Rumi, and Being Led” (AGNI 79) are cited as notable (they’re distinguished too, not to mention anguished).

On September 1st, David Ebenbach became the founder, curator, and primum mobile of the AGNI blog. Visit it, write for it, and add your comments. The conversation is just beginning.

On May 18th, Poetry Daily will feature Noah Warren’s “Automatic Pool Cleaner” from AGNI 81.

We’re thrilled to welcome Irish story writer and novelist Mary O’Donoghue as fiction editor, where she joins William Giraldi. After publishing three of O’Donoghue’s stories from 2004 to 2009, we invited her to join the staff as a reader. Now she will play a bigger, much-deserved role in guiding the magazine.

Thanks to a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, every writer AGNI publishes in 2015, whether in print or online, will receive double our old standard rates. AGNI now pays $20 per page for prose and $40 per page for poetry, with a $300 maximum. We believe writers should be paid as well as possible, and we’re proud to have been paying equally for print and web publication since the advent of AGNI Online in 2003.

Anna Journey’s essay “An Arrangement of Skin” (AGNI 79) is reprinted in the Winter 2014 issue of Utne Reader!

On December 6th, Poetry Daily will feature Mark Kraushaar’s “Matinee” from AGNI 80.

Rebecca Hazelton’s poem “Book of Forget” (AGNI 75) has won a Pushcart Prize and appears in the 2015 anthology. Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s essay “You Gotta Have Heart” (AGNI 77), Paul Christensen’s story “My Beautiful Life” (AGNI 77), and Selena Anderson’s story “Grief Bacon” (AGNI 78) receive Special Mention.

Two recent AGNI essays are cited as notable in The Best American Essays 2014: Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough’s “Europe, Europa” and Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s “You Gotta Have Heart,” both from AGNI 77.

We’re proud to add Patrick Modiano to the list of AGNI writers who have gone on to win the Nobel Prize! He joins Seamus Heaney (1995), Derek Walcott (1992), Wisława Szymborska (1996), and Tomas Tranströmer (2011). AGNI was the first to publish Modiano in English.

AGNI Magazine :: published at Boston University ©2008 AGNI