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Anna Schuleit Haber’s arresting sequence of paintings—from which we take our cover and portfolio—is entitled The Voice Imitator. How apt that is, for AGNI 81, even more than previous issues, is a gathering of uniquely expressive tonalities. From the fictional flights of writers like Stephen Dixon, Lynne Sharon Schwartz, Amina Gautier, and Karl Ove Knausgaard; to the essayistic renderings of Chloe Honum, Jennifer S. Cheng, and Adam Szczucinski; and on to poems and translations by Cyrus Cassells, Patricia Hooper, Noah Warren, Martha Silano, and Vivek Narayanan, the octaves of the contemporary are thoroughly sounded.
Unsettling whimsy, gravity, and grace: Photographer Rosamond Purcell’s portfolio—the debut of her “Oscar” series—provides the visual key signature for our most symphonically ambitious gathering of voices yet. Fiction by Beth Bosworth, Josh Weil, Chitra Divakaruni, and Tony Eprile; poetry by Nick Flynn, Erica Funkhouser, Peter Balakian, and Jill McDonough; essays by Anna Journey and K. E. Duffin; and much more. Superb translations of Virgil, Raúl Zurita, Théophile Gautier, Antonio Tabucchi, and others bring striking accents to the weave.
Out of pieces is a world made and understood. Wangechi Mutu’s stunning, disturbing images set the tone for an investigation of canny and uncanny assemblage. Essays by, among others, Carol Ann Davis and Anna Journey; fiction by Ihab Hassan, Matt Sailor, and Ann Pancake; translations of Horace and Callimachus, and poems by Kevin Prufer, Patricia Hooper, and many others.
Rules—and ruins—of attraction. From Nicola Waldron’s memoir of the summons of first love, to Peter LaSalle’s unsettling fiction of literary erotics. to J. D. Daniels’s story of jealous transgression. Erica Funkhauser’s poems channeling John Berryman’s devastations, and the light of Vermeer refracted by poet Circe Maia. A generous suite of tributes to Gail Mazur, along with new work by the poet. The breadth of literary imaginings is counterpointed, and underscored, by the eerily witty precision of Matt Hope’s drawings of the future as remembered: strange ruins, new rules. Much, much more.
The body eclectic—artist Fabio D’Aroma’s expressively cartoonized bodies and physiognomies catch the flavor of an issue featuring Lynne Sharon Schwartz’s surgery memoir, as well as meaty and muscular fiction from Tiphanie Yanique, David Hernandez, E. C. Osondu, and Melanie Rae Thon; essays by Lia Purpura and Elvis Bego; poetry by Dana Levin, Jordan Smith, Peter Balakian, and Carol Moldaw; and much more, including translations from the Lithuanian, French, Japanese, Danish, and Russian.
Fiery significations—of place, of past, of self. Artist Lesley Dill’s striking figurations set the tone of engaged encounter. Nonfiction by Jeffrey Mehlman, John Kinsella, Dinah Lenney, Susan McCallum-Smith, and others. Stories by David Huddle, Wendy Rawlings, Tamas Dobozy, and Victoria Lancelotta; poetry from Sharon Olds, Eamon Grennan, David Wojahn, Patricia Lockwood, with translations by Christopher Middleton, Hoyt Rogers, and Ewa Hryniewicz-Yarbrough.
Trails of mastery, echoes of influence. This first issue of our 40th-anniversary year features a portfolio of photographs of Robert Lowell, never before published, by Robert Gardner, with responses and reminiscences from an array of writers, including C. K. Williams, Fanny Howe, Lloyd Schwartz, Claudia Rankine, Tom Sleigh, Gail Mazur, and Robert Pinsky. Other contents include stories by Edith Pearlman and Vince Passaro, poems by David Wagoner, Connie Voisine, Emilia Phillips, Adam Day, Bob Hicok, and Jill McDonough, and translated work by Osip Mandelstam, Yves Bonnefoy and Husch Josten.
Sifting for fresh versions of the known. An art portfolio of odd objects, served up by Jody Servon and Lorene Delany-Ullman, captures something of the larger idiosyncrasy of this issue, which features, among other offerings, poetry by Amy Gerstler, Sherman Alexie, Carol Ann Davis, and Rainer Maria Rilke (from the German and from the French); fiction by Helen DeWitt and Rachel Swearingen; a generous array of nonfiction by Sarah Braunstein, Jonathan Wilson, Robert Boyers, and many others, as well as a conversation with the startlingly unusual Yahia Lababidi.
Tethers of mind, tethers of heart: a lyric inventory of the ties that bind, and constrain. Cover and portfolio by Ethan Murrow create the vibration, sustained and amplified in fiction by Ihab Hassan, Mark Slouka, Sigrid Nunez, Tom Whalen, and many others; poetry by Amy Beeder, Tom Sleigh, Patricia Lockwood, and Ed Ochester; and nonfiction by Nin Andrews and Matt Donovan. Translations of Robert Walser, Giulio Mozzi, Paul Celan, and Horace.
Anything-but-alphabetical Africa. A vividly variegated portfolio (in print and online) of fiction from the continent that Alexander miraculously overlooked, including new work from Henrietta Rose-Innes, Helon Habila, Doreen Baingana, and many others. The art feature and cover by Victor Ekpuk telegraph the sensuous immediacy and coded layers of this presentation. The issue also includes fiction by Joan Wickersham and Sarah Gaddis; poems by C. K. Williams, Kevin Young, Kate Northrop, and others; reflections on poetry by Carol Moldaw and Anton Vander Zee; as well as tributes to Barry Hannah by Sven Birkerts and William Giraldi.
Detonations and responses. The pressure of consequences public and private moves through fiction by Tom Bissell, Carolyn Cooke, Marjorie Sandor, and others. It turns lyrical in work by Charles Simic, Major Jackson, Kathleen Graber, and Melissa Green, and flares up surprisingly in essays by Paul West, Lia Purpura, Lynne Sharon Schwartz, and Alex Lemon. The issue also includes a career-spanning interview with Donald Hall and a portfolio of artist Ellen Driscoll’s strikingly engaged installations.
Celebrations and skewerings. The writing life laid bare in fiction by Ken Kalfus, Giles Harvey, and Melissa Pritchard; essays by Peter LaSalle and Norman Lock; and poems by Victoria Chang and Alexander Long. Other work by Simon Armitage, Tomaz Salamun, Maxine Scates, Mary O’Donoghue, Douglas Bauer, Mimi Schwartz, and many others. Plus a mind-stretching art feature and cover by Joomi Chung, and a special section in which writers and fellow artists commemorate the life of painter Michael Mazur.
Honoring the spirit that survives. Valedictories for Susan Sontag and Czeslaw
Milosz by Askold Melnyczuk, Sven Birkerts, and Seamus Heaney, along with fiercely idiosyncratic prose and poetry by
C. K. Williams,
K. E. Duffin, Magdalena Tulli,
Peter LaSalle, Vivek Narayanan, Edith Pearlman,
Kyle Thompson, and many others.
Visual meditations on word-to-form by Deborah Davidson.