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The latest issue of AGNI magazine a cause for celebration

October 19 event will include reading by alum, national literary figure Ha Jin

Ha Jin (GRS'94). Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

National Book Award winner Ha Jin (GRS’94), a professor in the GRS Creative Writing Program, will read from his work at Agni magazine’s celebration of the publication of Agni 62 on Wednesday, October 19.

The “reading and release” party, at 7:30 p.m. in Room B-50 of the Stone Science Building, will also feature readings from Irish writer Mary O’Donoghue and poets Wesley McNair and Dana Levin. A reception will follow.

Jin’s PEN/Faulkner Award last year for his novel War Trash was an encore — he earned the same laurels for his 2001 novel Waiting, which also won a National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Published at Boston University, Agni, which PEN America calls “one of America’s and the world’s most significant literary journals,” has been a Boston institution for more than three decades. Jin’s long history with the publication began as the feature poet in Agni 28, when he was a graduate student at Brandeis University. The magazine began publishing his fiction in 1991 — five years before his first collection of short stories, Ocean of Words, won the PEN/Hemingway Award.

Despite Jin’s success, he talked about embracing failure as a writer in a February 2005 interview with Agni fiction editor Jessica Brilliant Keener.

Mary O’Donoghue, who teaches in the arts and humanities at Babson College, re-creates the particulars of Irish family life in her poetry and fiction. “O’Donoghue’s language surprises with odd, powerful turns not completely explained by her literary descent from the likes of William Trevor,” says William Pierce, Agni managing editor.

The poems of Wesley McNair, according to Ellen Wehle, the magazine’s poetry editor, “explore the ordinary world — our life in America as we live it. Through observation and razor-sharp detail, he lays bare the little moments of truth between husband and wife, parent and child.”

Dana Levin’s first book, In the Surgical Theatre, earned the 1999 American Poetry Review/Honickman First Book Prize. Robert Pinsky, a CAS English professor and former U.S. poet laureate, has said in the Washington Post that Levin’s poem Ars Poetica is a counterpart in new poetry to the powerful enigmas of Emily Dickinson and T. S. Eliot, “satisfyingly clear and excitingly inexplicable.”

The publication celebration is free and open to the public. For more information, e-mail agni@bu.edu, call 617-353-7135, or visit Agni online.