At AGNI we see literature and the arts as integral to the broad, engaged conversation that underwrites a vital society. Our poets, storytellers, essayists, translators, and artists lift a mirror to nature and the social world. They not only reflect our age, they respond.
We have no formula. We seek fresh vision and listen for dynamic voices that address our common reality.
As PEN American Center put it, AGNI is “known for publishing important new writers early in their careers.” E. C. Osondu won the Caine Prize for African Writing; we had begun to champion his work years earlier—in fact, his first and second published stories appeared in AGNI. AGNI published three of the stories that form Jamie Quatro’s celebrated debut collection. Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Interpreter of Maladies” appeared in AGNI before becoming the title story of her Pulitzer-winning collection. Ha Jin was publishing his poems in AGNI when he was a graduate student at Brandeis University. Some of his earliest stories appeared here also, and he has gone on to win the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, twice. Others include Susanna Kaysen, Mark Doty, Glyn Maxwell, Joan Wickersham, Cynthia Huntington, and J. D. Daniels.
But names can be misleading. When they came to us, these names did not resonate the way they do now. It was the writing that captured us—and does still.
We heed the deeper sense of “cosmopolitan”—citizen of the world. AGNI seeks out life as it is shaped into art in all parts of the globe. We prize the textural amalgam offered by work from a wide range of cultures. Our issues have featured writers from Afghanistan, Mexico, Uganda, South Africa, India, Malaysia, China, South Korea, Egypt, Russia, Nigeria, Djibouti, The Gambia, Syria, Botswana, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Brazil, and many other countries, along with translations from Urdu, Dutch, Latin, German, Spanish, Hungarian, Ukrainian, Yiddish, Chinese, Turkish, Greek and ancient Greek, Hebrew, Albanian, Old English, Polish, Italian, Slovenian, French, Latvian, and more.
Our mission is straightforward: To bring our reader into the living moment, not as a tourist but as an engaged participant. And—as means and method—to champion writers who engage the world in and around them, shaping their words so intimately that the ripple of their seeing and the quirks of their thinking become part of the portrait.
We have a more formal way of expressing all of this, for grants and such:
AGNI is an arts organization committed to nurturing a vital cultural conversation by (1) publishing a twice-yearly print magazine, a twice-monthly web magazine, and a weekly blog that test the edges of contemporary literature; (2) searching for and supporting emerging writers across a full spectrum of identities; (3) fostering a cosmopolitan perspective through emphasis on translation; and (4) building and sustaining an audience for this work and hosting public events to encourage community.