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AGNI - Number 60

  • Image: Image
  • Issue Number: Number 60
  • Published Date: 2004

Yes, after sixty issues, AGNI is still going strong, but more importantly it’s still finding new ways to reinvent itself. The theme here is “reading at the limit,” inspired by Katherine Jackson’s rendering of written text into “liminal” (i.e. at the surface) visual art. If you want to test the limits at the reading level, there’s no going wrong with Robert Olen Butler’s “four pieces of Severance,” a group of concept sketches best defined as “beheading monologues” that you’ll have to read for yourself to truly appreciate. Among the poetry, I enjoyed the account of innocence lost in Richard Hoffman’s “Gold Star Road”: “Ignorant // as goldfish in a plastic bag, / as mayflies mistaking the road for the river, / we assured one another, // keeping up our spirits / as we had long been taught.” The fiction has something for everyone, but the nonfiction has the most room to challenge our notions of limits and categorization. Joshua Harmon, in “The Annotated Mix-Tape,” weaves an eclectic music review of the Scud Mountain Boys’ “Massachusetts” with his own memories of his native Bay State. I was quite amused by his treatment of my native Pennsylvania as foreign to his New England sensibilities. (Full disclosure: Harmon taught at Bucknell University while I was a student there.) Needless to say, AGNI is strangely exotic to my own eyes; it knows how to skew the current times while demanding to be re-read through the backdrop of future ages. And even when rereading, as Jackson says, “aren’t we always reading everything for the first time?” [www.bu.edu/agni]

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Review Posted on March 31, 2005
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