AGNI Online: In Gaza We Are Not Okay by Najlaa Attallah

August 1 marks the twenty-sixth day of the war on Gaza, and it is also my sister’s birthday. We all remember that day easily enough, but we would have rushed to mark it with any occasion rather than her birthday. On this Friday, we set off running in all directions: searching for water, struggling to find enough fuel to run the generator for an hour’s worth of time so that we could run the pump. At this time, in the daylight of August 1, we also managed to watch the television and determined that we were truly in for it, in this city, adrift in a sea that was draining the life out of us.

No electricity, no water, no communications, no life to think about. But is this important? Does it make any difference?”


Secret Garden, The Great Gatsby, Frankenstein, 1984, Lolita, The Princess and the Goblin, Moby Dick ’ Rose Wong

ink and digital

Book Cover designs for my final Senior thesis! 

Super excited to do more illustrated type design stuff~*~*~


Source: rosewong

“My Sister the Abacus” by Rachel Mennies (audio poem) » RHINO

Take a listen: “My Sister the Abacus” from The Glad Hand, first appearing (& now hosted for audio streaming) at the wonderful RHINO

Our educational system is almost designed to foster a fixed mind-set. Think about how a typical English class works: You read a “great work” by a famous author, discussing what the messages are, and how the author uses language, structure, and imagery to convey them. You memorize particularly pithy quotes to be regurgitated on the exam, and perhaps later on second dates. Students are rarely encouraged to peek at early drafts of those works. All they see is the final product, lovingly polished by both writer and editor to a very high shine. When the teacher asks “What is the author saying here?” no one ever suggests that the answer might be “He didn’t quite know” or “That sentence was part of a key scene in an earlier draft, and he forgot to take it out in revision.”

Source: The Atlantic


“My hope was that the reader would be able to become the characters enough to suffer some of the pain, some of the disaster, and therefore realize it.” —John Hersey on Hiroshima


Lafcadio Hearn coined the phrase naked poetry for one of his general lectures at the Imperial University in Tokyo (1896–1903). He said:

I want to make a little discourse about what we might call Naked Poetry … that is, poetry without any dress, without any ornament, the very essence or body of poetry unveiled by artifice of any kind.

—Edward Hirsch on this week’s poetic term: Naked Poetry

Colleges aren’t monasteries. They can’t give their students spiritual sustenance; they can’t provide an escape from modernity. And they shouldn’t be faulted, or punished, for that.
Joshua Rothman on why the “crisis in higher education” is really the crisis of modernity: (via newyorker)


"It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing." - Gertrude Stein

First Verse: David Koehn and Rachel Mennies

DK: This version of the truth—exactly. What is truth is sort of emergent here as part of the conversation of “I think I’m writing memoir, which I’m representing as truth,” but turns out may or may not have been truth, and then you switch mode to poetry to feel safe in telling an untruth or a fiction to get something closer to the truth. And yet, at the end of the day, none of it may synchronize with what the historical fact may or may not have been, which is all these sort of layers.

RM: Yeah, and poetry lets you—I mean, I think it’s interesting that one of the questions I’m getting a lot now from family as the book is coming out is, “Oh, is this—are you telling—is this the story? Is this the truth?”

DK: “Is this true?”

RM: And I always do what you did, the sort of stump speech: poetry is not nonfiction; the speaker is not me. You know. So, after the stump speech is over, they’re kind of unsatisfied still.

DK: [Laughs]

RM: “Well, a lot of it looks like the truth.”



An Interview with Aimee Bender About Her Syllabus 

This is part of a series of conversations with writers who teach, where we discuss how they develop an idea for a course, generate a syllabus, and conduct a class. Read the full syllabus here.

Aimee Bender is the author of The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, Willful Creatures, and The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Her most recent short story collection, The Color Master, includes two retellings of fairy tales. Her work has been published in The Paris Review, Harper’s, and Granta, among other places. She teaches at the University of Southern California.

—Stephanie Palumbo


STEPHANIE PALUMBO: Tell me about the background of this class.

AIMEE BENDER: I’ve only taught this as an undergraduate class, and the people that have taken it are not necessarily English majors—they’re science, pre-med, communications. It’s changing now, but the general education program had a template of things you had to include in a class: a certain amount of writing, emphasis on critical thinking, and pages of reading per week. You got to take those factors and stir them in a pot and come up with an idea. I knew I would naturally lean toward doing something with fairy tales. They’re perfect little nuggets to talk about.

SP: So many books have been influenced by fairy tales. How did you narrow down the reading list?

AB: I split it into two halves. One part was direct influence: stories taken from a specific tale. So for “Snow White,” we’d first discuss the tale and all different kinds of Snow Whites from various countries, then look at a new telling, like Donald Barthelme’s Snow White, which is radically different but uses the story as a base. There aren’t an endless amount of these direct retellings. The other part, which is super flexible, is indirect influence. I switch those readings a lot more, because so many things can fit. For years, we read José Saramago’s Blindness, but a lot of the students would argue that they didn’t feel it had fairy tale elements, just certain craft similarities, like very little internal reflection and characters without names. What makes a fairy tale a fairy tale is pretty debatable.

SP: How would you define a fairy tale?

AB: There are various definitions, including a great one by Bruno Bettelheim. I think fairy tales are usually quite short, have archetypes, include very little internal experience of the characters, involve an element of magic, and often objects and animals participate in some way. Bettelheim says they have to have a happy ending to qualify as a viable fairy tale, but I don’t know if I agree with that, because Hans Christian Andersen writes beautiful fairy tales, and they’re extremely melancholy. 

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