Chris Agee was born in 1956 in San Francisco and grew up in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. He attended Harvard University. He is the author of three books of poems, In the New Hampshire Woods (The Dedalus Press, 1992), First Light (The Dedalus Press, 2003) and Next to Nothing (Salt, 2009), as well as the editor of Scar on the Stone: Contemporary Poetry from Bosnia (Bloodaxe, 1998, Poetry Society Recommendation), Unfinished Ireland: Essays on Hubert Butler (Irish Pages, 2003) and The New North: Contemporary Poetry from Northern Ireland (Wake Forest University Press, 2008, and Salt, 2011). A Bosnian translation of Next to Nothing, Gotovo ništa (Buybook, Sarajevo), funded by Ireland Literature Exchange, appeared in 2011. His poetry appears in the seminal Bloodaxe anthology, The Hundred Years’ War (2014), among many others.
He reviews for The Irish Times and is the Editor of Irish Pages, a journal of contemporary writing based in Belfast. He is currently the Keith Wright Literary Fellow at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, and stays in both Partick, Glasgow, and Belfast. He holds dual Irish and American citizenship, and spends part of each year at his house on Korcula, near Dubrovnik, in Croatia.
Next to Nothing was shortlisted for the 2010 Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, funded by the Poet Laureate and organized by the Poetry Society in London.
About writer's work
My third collection of poems, Next to Nothing (Salt, 2009) records the years following the death a beloved child in 2001 and was described by the poet John F. Deane as “a masterful collection”. It was shortlisted for the Ted Hughes Award for New Work in Poetry, funded by the Poet Laureate. My fourth collection, provisionally entitled Now and Then, and nearing completion, records new departures and insights in the aftermath of bereavement, and moves between Ireland, Scotland, the Balkans, and further afield.
In my one statement on Next to Nothing, I have written:
“In addition to individual poems and several sequences, Next to Nothing includes a section entitled ‘Heartscapes’, which consists of 59 ‘micro-poems’, as I call them. Many of these are extremely short; most were written during the very bleak and soul-sick year of 2003; and the whole section (with one poem per page) will take no more than thirty minutes to read, and indeed can be read with ease by any general intelligent reader, whatever their familiarity with or experience of poetry. Swiftness of effect was, in fact, part of the intention and fidelity; the challenge here as throughout the book was to record true and deep ‘heart-feeling’ (as opposed to the ‘feeling” of sensibility, apperception, historical moment, etc.) – that most delicate of poetic material, owing to the swiftness of emotion itself. For once, I think I can say that these poems wrote themselves, in the sense of my being a quite passive amanuensis caught up in pain rather than any sort of instigator – drawing on the habit of technique belonging to what had become a previous life, whilst suddenly also bereft of belief in the poetic outcome compared to the apocalypse of the loss itself – that is to say, the textual as ‘next to nothing’, in several distinct senses, like Matisse’s sparest line-drawings in a sea of blank space, or Beckett’s transcriptions of emotional experience . . ."
Websites featuring the authorIrish PagesChris Agee at Wikipedia
Current events and projects
I am available for readings, residencies, workshops, masterclasses and publishing/editorial seminars. In Scotland, in my capacity as writer-in-residence at the University of Strathclyde, I have initiated the monthly “Philip Hobsbaum Memorial Workshop” for writers (both published and unpublished) of clear potential and achieved craft.
- Scar on the Stone: Contemporary Poetry from Bosnia (Bloodaxe, 1998, Poetry Society Recommendation).
- Unfinished Ireland: Essays on Hubert Butler (Irish Pages, 2003).
- The New North: Contemporary Poetry from Northern Ireland (Wake Forest University Press, 2008, and Salt, 2011).
- The Other Tongues: An Introduction to Writing in Irish, Scots Gaelic and Scots in Ulster and Scotland (Irish Pages, 2013).