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Published: Thu Apr 30 2020
Welcome to the Virtual Launch of AGNI 91—Essays Edition

Welcome to the essay portion of this Virtual Launch. (There’s also an all-genre page and a string of videos by our editors.)

What a difference there is. If in earlier times we’ve enticed members of our local community out of their houses to attend a real-time reading and celebration, here we look to reach readers the world over, most of whom tune in from their homes asynchronously. Even as we miss gathering in person, we believe that isolated writers reaching isolated readers allows for a vital circuitry that connects us now when connection is needed most. The essayists we present here—the whole roster from the new issue—showcase what we prize most about the genre: the singular take made vivid in moments great and small by the vigor and grace of the language.

—The Nonfiction Editors

AGNI 91‘s full slate of essays is available online for the next three months. Please know that, as always, this issue lives first and best in print. Buying it is just one of the ways you can support our work.


William Pierce’s introductory essay “The Peculiarities of Literary Meaning


In “The Summer before Thirteen,” Xujun Eberlein revisits the childhood streets of her mountain city of Chongqing; even as her mind is ready with stories and Mao’s teachings on death, she struggles to assimilate a loss so big and sudden it resists understanding.


We travel south through China to Haikou with Jiaming Tang, whose startlingly omniscient eye shows us a modern-day country “Where Flowers Bloom but Have No Scent,” and one in which Tongzhi continue to struggle under the narrow grip of the People’s Congress to love who they will.


Portfolio artist Christopher Cozier’s associative freestyling gives a unique sense of his process as he taps the unconscious for images that now read as strange portents of our time, in his Art Feature accompaniment “Dark Cycles/Circles.”


Ann Hood begins “Stop Breath” with a memory of making grilled cheese sandwiches for her mother, and follows the trail of other intimate domestic moments to come to terms with her mother’s life and the stages of her dying.


In “Dream of the Subjunctive,” Debra Nystrom searches out the complicated emotional causality that created a legacy of family trauma and brought about the loss of her most intimate relationships.


We confront the raw and beautiful horrors of Cathryn Klusmeier’s work on a commercial salmon-fishing boat in “Gutted” as this dailiness collides with persistent memories of her father’s cognitive decline from Alzheimer’s.

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