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Please note: this year we’ll be closing our submission period on May 1st instead of May 31st.

Mumblety Peg

A poem by Leslie McGrath

“Winking, the young man stuffed
the thing into the denim pouch strapped across his chest
then with two slim fingers tweezed a phone from the purse
gaping at a girl's shoulder. What? you sputtered. . . .”


An essay by Dinah Lenney

“Who has the metronome? This is not the first time I’ve wondered: Didn’t I ask about it when Eliza started taking lessons? Didn’t I look for one just like it? I did. But so expensive. So instead we got a plastic mechanical ticker, threw it away the minute she quit. It was no work of art after all, not like my mother’s. Hers, the one I grew up with, was a solid wooden pyramid with a coded brass strip—not a matter of flicking a switch, no. You wound it first, then released the wand from its clip, moved the tiny trapezoid up or down depending, and the pendulum swung of its own accord, as pendulums do.”

Why Bother?

A poem by Ryan Black

                                                                                                          “some will mind an awful
smell to pose the dead with props—a cigarette, a MetroCard, an open can
                of Red Bull—the images posted to Instagram before a transit officer

can carry out the shark in a garbage bag.”

At Sea

A story by Amy Benson

“One night, the room heaves, and we think perhaps this is the beginning of the story. We try to remember the rules of fairy tales: if you see beauty or ugliness, it may be a disguise; proclamations, pleas, and invocations will be repeated three times; and the ending is always known at the beginning. Perhaps one day we’ll go up on deck, take in this storied ocean. But what can we do? We are at sea. We are in a tale. Warnings and predictions will go unheeded despite the certainty of their coming true.”

A Portrait of the Artist as an Old Fox

A poem by Johan Huybrechts

                                           “there must be some way out of here,
          a direction home, answers to be found somewhere downwind
and a howling for the lot of us. . . .


A poem by Dore Kiesselbach

“Were it to breathe fire on my finger
I would feel it as the pinch
of someone who wants
to believe he is dreaming.”

The Fish

A story by Anzhelina Polonskaya
translated from the Russian by Andrew Wachtel

“The cherry blossoms are falling (another snow rehearsal). The birch leaves have darkened to a deep green: winter is approaching. Have you ever noticed that in central Russia the sky is white for the most part . . . ?”

Half Falling, Half in Flight: A Conversation with Mark Neely

by Eric Higgins

MN: This form was intriguing to me because it leads to interesting readings like the one you’re doing here. Many of the four-of-a-kind poems have an element of collage because they take four often disparate sections and place them on the same canvas. One reason the sections are left and right justified, and of equal length, is so they have the shape of a painter’s canvas. ”

Solomon’s Wisdom Didn’t Keep and Look at the skate park sideways

Two poems by Mark Neely

             “the glassy trees
reminded us of us,

wrapped brightly
in their misery.”

“The Remains of Holiness”: On Borowicz’s The Bees Are Waiting

A review of Karina Borowicz by Jason Tandon

“The words ‘wool’ and ‘grease’ connote a reality that is oppressive and un-enchanting, though the speaker persists in her power to transform her reality suggested by the simile in the final line. The phrase “test in my hands” strengthens the speaker’s resolve to pursue the belief that the individual imagination can invent an authentic, convincing reality—or to draw again upon Stevens’s philosophy—that the imagination can convince us ‘to believe in a fiction, which you know to be a fiction. . . . The exquisite truth is to know that it is a fiction and that you believe it willingly.’”

Art Lies Because It Is Social

An essay by Drew Calvert

“Basically, the problem is this: we feel chronically unfulfilled because we want literature to do more for us than our culture’s attitude towards it will allow.  We want to read a novel that does the impossible — that captures something essential about the daily struggle of contemporary life (which means finding the symbolic cross-section between cultural absurdities and private indignities), and at the same time offers us joy in believable ways (which means, as Wallace once put it in an interview, applying ‘CPR to those elements of what’s human and magical that still live and glow despite the times’ darkness.’)”

When We Found the Rete

A poem by Edward Mayes

“The envelope we slice our lips on when

We try to lick it, as if it could remain
Glued forever, as if inside it were
A key we are mailing to something

We still can’t imagine opening”

Photographs of Thinking: A Conversation with Ken Chen

part of our Emerging Poets Interview Series
by Eric Higgins

KC: I think that poems are territory-inventing objects. I was trying to record the conversations I was having with myself by inventing the most appropriate verbal shape to contain them. What was important for me at the time was to invent a new way of talking about these banal painful moments that, at the time, felt utterly unprecedented and so demanded an utterly unprecedented vehicle. I wanted to make music videos. I wanted to make people cry. Think of the various forms—the shooting script or the rhetorical argumentation—like X-ray impressions. A lot of the poems in Juvenilia are really just photographs of thinking.”

A Little Death in the World and The New Life

Two poems by Beth Woodcome Platow

“Then it was gone,
And we could not measure
The distance or the volume
Of that particular loss.

If there were ever a truth, it would be this:
We don’t want to be crazy anymore.”

Category Sex, or An Essay on the Label Machine and Intimate Democracy Is Seeing the Back of Your Head

Two poems by Ken Chen

“There was a woman who kept her hair pulled back, organized her life with
a Teutonic fastidiousness, and wore unnecessary glasses because she did
not want her coworkers to see through her beauty into her self. She was
not generous at work, but possessed another self, she told herself, a dark
wild-haired woman who slept with men she met on OKCupid. She
thought this was a newer cliché than meeting men smoking outside bars
but still a cliché.”

Seamus Heaney, 1939–2013

We invite you to celebrate Seamus’s life by reading
a selection of work published in AGNI
across more than two decades.

The Dream of the Pussy and Casual Business Attire

Two essays by Nin Andrews

“Even a vagina has its day in Berkeley, California, I thought, but I wondered what a vagina would do on its day. Look for a bite to eat? Go shopping? Relax with friends? I suddenly realized how old I am. Days pass when my vagina doesn’t want to be bothered anymore. And the word, vagina, makes me wince. I picture a white room with a nurse and a pair of latex gloves, metal stirrups for my feet. The nurse is saying, This will be just a little pressure.”

Hark, Dumbass: Humor in Contemporary American Poetry

A review of Dean Young’s Fall Higher by Eric Weinstein

            “Do you think the dictionary ever says to itself
              I’ve got these words that mean completely
              different things inside myself
              and it’s tearing me apart?

This tension marks the question of Fall Higher in particular and Young’s poetry in general: how can poetry bear the colossal self-contradiction, the impossibly varied spectra of image and emotion, it entails?”

“Outside the window falls the rain.” and “Why does that particular . . .”

Two poems by Tadeusz Dabrowski
translated from the Polish by Antonia Lloyd-Jones

                                                            “Somewhere in the world
a word falls from someone’s lips that changes the course
of history. At just the same time from millions of lips
fall words meaning nothing and counteract
that single one.”

Rule of Chambers

A poem by Claire Sylvester Smith

“Now they are looking
for a way into or out of a brawl, depending on
how hard they believed in the party’s original end.
You can ruin many rules by disregarding them,

though just not following’s never enough. . . .”

Orders of Protection

A story by Jenn Hollmeyer

“You say you’re her new attorney, and the petals of her dress wilt with disappointment. You look like a Girl Scout. When she sits down, she tells you about the man who beats her, that he looks like the nicest guy in the world, like he’d be your dentist or your mailman or your cousin, you know? You say you know.”

Meeting You After Chernobyl

A poem by Paul Nemser

“There were cattle blotched with waning alphabets.
And there were eyes that had seen too many lights,
so we didn’t recognize the wells
we had drunk from all our lives. . . .”

Nymphs of Kezar Lake

A poem by Joyce Peseroff

“I think the loons are their childhoods,
my daughter’s too, and Jim’s sergeant
of a son, hooting in the desolate way of strays
let go after months of human companionship
on gravel roads that loop around the lake.”

The Stockholm Car

A story by Stig Dagerman

translated from the Swedish by Steven Hartman

“So this is how we small farm kids swap our lean lives for large ones, as heroes in our own private dramas. And why not? The tighter our belts or shackles, the more powerful our dreams are of other lives shaped by freedom and honor.”

Partridge: Paradise Lost and Ode to the Parrot

Two poems by Meg Kearney

“For miles and miles lush hedgerows were alive
with our toe-scratch and egg heat; our chatter
louder than bees, making green leaves flutter.
We hatched into this world wide-eyed; arrived
covered in down.”

The Pakistani Novel of Class Comes of Age

A review by Anis Shivani of Mohsin Hamid’s How to Get Filthy Rich in Rising Asia

“Freedom in this novel assumes fanciful new forms of self-imposed repression. On the one hand, there is no rising Asia, only sinking Asia: an old-fashioned trope like an absconding brother-in-law can sink the whole enterprise, decades of hard work and the care and feeding of the powers-that-be gone to waste in an instant. On the other hand, of course there is rising Asia, steeped in new technologies of communication and imitation, where everyone does have a chance to ascend.”

I. L. Salomon, poet & translator. and Nusch Eluard, 1906–1946.

Two poems by Gerard Malanga

                                              “How old age doesn’t slowly creep up
but suddenly there in those morning mirrors
we seek to avoid, except as some passing glance in shop windows. . . .”

How to Sort It

A poem by Sydney Lea

                                         “Their tears might so easily– flow. Oh no.
I’m hunting around for eloquence here and coming up empty.
The woman and I just nod at each other

as we wait at the post office window. Though I’m an old man now,
I go on looking toward some sort of future.”


AGNI News and Events

The Launch of AGNI 79: We launch our spring issue on Wednesday, April 23rd, 7:00 p.m., with readings by Douglas Bauer, Megan Mayhew Bergman, Beth Woodcome Platow, and Ilan Stavans—and of course a party after. We hope you'll come. Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. [Download our press release]

European Voices: A Reading and Conversation with Spanish author Andrés Neuman
On Thursday, April 24th, at 6:00 p.m., we present Spanish poet, essayist, and translator Andrès Neuman, author of Traveller of the Century (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2012), winner of the Alfaguara Prize and the National Critics Prize. Moderated by Alicia Borinsky, a fiction writer, poet, and literary critic who has published extensively in English and Spanish in the United States, Latin America, and Europe. A reception follows. Boston University Photonics Center, 8 St. Mary's Street, 9th floor. Free and open to the public.

European Voices in Translation: A Festival in Celebration of Europe Day
On Saturday, May 10th, from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., AGNI presents European Voices in Translation: a reading and conversation with László Krasznahorkai and George Szirtes, moderated by James Wood; a reading from Bohumil Hrabal’s Harlequin’s Millions by translator Stacey Knecht; a reading of selected poems of Ivan Blatný’s by translator Veronika Tuckerova; a reading and conversation with Semezdin Mehmedinovic and Ammiel Alcalay; a performance by Cambridge Concentus, intertwined musical voices: Biber, Buxtehude, and Bach. Refreshments will be available throughout the day, and a reception follows. Goethe Institut Boston, 170 Beacon Street, Boston. $10 admission, free with a student ID. Click for a full schedule.

We’re proud of our partnership with the audio magazine The Drum. Listen to Tiphanie Yanique’s story “Oakland Gomorrah” from AGNI 77.

On December 2nd, Poetry Daily featured AGNI 78 and Gail Mazur’s poem “Où Sont les Neiges d’Antan.”

Five of the fourteen new recipients of PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grants are AGNI translators. Congratulations to Isabel Fargo Cole, Sean Cotter, Edward Gauvin, Marilyn Hacker, and Elizabeth Harris.

On June 4th, Poetry Daily featured Melissa Green’s “Leda, Later,” a poem first published in AGNI 77.

Robert Long Foreman has won a Pushcart Prize for his story “Cadiz, Missouri,” which first appeared in AGNI 75. Pushcart will reprint the story in its 2014 anthology.

Two more strong votes of confidence in what we’re up to! Harper’s Magazine, in its February 2013 issue, reprinted Robert Leonard Reid’s short story “That Doubling Is Always Observed,” from AGNI 76, and The New Yorker’s Page Turner blog is reprinting Jamie Quatro’s story “Relatives of God” (AGNI 73). That story and two others from AGNI are part of her debut collection, I Want To Show You More, which James Wood reviews in the March 11th New Yorker: “The best stories are passionate, sensuous, savagely intense, and remarkable for their brave dualism. . . .”

Poetry Daily featured David Wojahn’s “My Father’s Soul Departing” (AGNI 76) on Thursday, November 15th.

Poetry Daily featured two pieces from AGNI 75: Alison Powell’s “Imagining Heaven” on Thursday, June 7, and as prose feature for the week of June 4th, Yves Bonnefoy’s “My Memories of Armenia,” translated by John Naughton.

Jen Percy’s essay “Azeroth” (AGNI 74) has won a Pushcart Prize and will be reprinted in the 2013 anthology.

Robert Boyers’s essay “A Beauty” (AGNI 74) has been selected for The Best American Essays 2012.

AGNI author Edith Pearlman has won the 2012 National Book Critics Circle Award for her story collection Binocular Vision, also a finalist for the National Book Award. Our warmest congratulations to Edith!

Rachel Swearingen’s story “Mitz’s Theory of Everything Series” (AGNI 74) has been chosen for New Stories from the Midwest 2012.

Kathleen Hill’s story “Forgiveness” (AGNI 73) will appear in The Best Spiritual Writing 2013.

Congratulations to Robert Boyers, whose essay “A Beauty” from AGNI 74 was awarded a 2011 Sidney Award by New York Times columnist David Brooks.

As its Prose Feature next week, Poetry Daily will reprint Askold Melnyczuk’s essay “Beating Toms,” which appears in AGNI 74. On November 21, PD featured Kevin Ducey’s “Ewigkeit” from the same issue.

Three pieces from AGNI have received Special Mention in the 2012 Pushcart Prize anthology: Idris Anderson’s poem “A Correction” (AGNI Online), Matt Donovan’s poem “Elegy with Mistakes All through It” (AGNI 71), and Paul West’s essay “Lightning-Rod Man: The Migraine Headache as Heuristic Tool” (AGNI 71).

On September 20, Verse Daily reprinted Kate Northrop’s poem “Cat,” which originally appeared in AGNI 72.

Three poems from AGNI appear in the new volume of The Best American Poetry: Julianna Baggott’s “To My Lover, Concerning the Yird Swine” and C. K. Williams’s “A Hundred Bones” from AGNI 72 and Lee Upton’s “Drunk at a Party” from AGNI 69.

Two stories from AGNI 72 have been chosen for Dave Eggers’s Best American Nonrequired Reading 2011: Henrietta Rose-Innes’s “Homing” (part of The AGNI Portfolio of African Fiction) and Joan Wickersham’s “The Boys’ School, or The News from Spain.”

Phyllis Barber’s essay “The Knife Handler” (AGNI 71) is cited as notable in The Best American Essays 2011 and The Best American Travel Writing 2011.

Do you know about the author pages at AGNI Online? They form a massive repository of info on contemporary literary writers. Click on any writers’ name.

Tom Bissell’s “A Bridge Under Water,” from AGNI 71, is reprinted in The Best American Short Stories 2011, where Majorie Sandor’s “Wolf” (AGNI 71) and Joan Wickersham’s “The Boys’ School, or The News from Spain” (AGNI 72) are cited as other distinguished stories of the year.

On November 21, Poetry Daily featured James Pollock’s poem “Northrop Frye at Bowles Lunch,” originally published in AGNI 72. Carol Moldaw’s essay from the same issue, “The Bottom Line,” was PD’s Prose Feature of the Week starting on November 23rd.

Two AGNI stories have been selected for Chamber Four’s The C4 Fiction Anthology: Michael Mejia’s “The Abjection” (AGNI 69) and Scott Cheshire’s “Watchers” (AGNI Online). The collection is available for free download in several ebook formats. Chamber Four calls AGNI one of the “best places to read online.”

Two AGNI pieces have won Pushcart Prizes and will be reprinted in the 2011 anthology: Valerie Vogrin’s “things we’ll need for the coming difficulties” (AGNI 69) and Ravi Shankar’s “Barter” (AGNI 70). Two essays, Mimi Schwartz’s “When History Gets Personal” (AGNI 70) and Emily C. Watson’s “Still, Sky, Girl, and Marriage” (AGNI 69), plus Adam Day’s poem “Combine” (AGNI 69), were given Special Mention.

AGNI Magazine :: published at Boston University ©2008 AGNI