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Agnė Žagrakalytė

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Agnė Žagrakalytė (1979) made her debut in 1996, and was already acknowledged as having promise, even before publishing her first book, Išteku (2003). As a poetess, she is very feminine, though she has conflicting feelings about being called a feminist. Womanhood, including, but not limited to, female sexuality, is the most prominent theme in her poetry, but it is explorative and reflective, instead of declarative. She is probably the most fun-loving Lithuanian poet, and her writing is always witty and ironic, although sometimes it veers towards black humour, sarcasm and cruel mockery. The woman of her poems is a very sensual, physical creature, who is in tune with her surroundings, but also highly competitive towards women, and who playfully torments men.

She was trained as a teacher, but worked mostly as an editor of cultural publications and publications for youth. Since moving to Brussels with her family she has been a full-time mother, but she has kept writing. Her second book of poetry appeared in 2008. Her poems were published in 2010 in an English collection entitled Artistic Cloning (translated by Jonas Zdanys), and she has started writing short essays for the Lithuanian cultural press. Rumour has it that there is also a novel in the pipeline.

Išteku (2003)

Agnė Žagrakalytė was already a well-known presence in Lithuanian poetry when her first collection was published. It won the First Book competition, which is held annually by the Lithuanian Writers’ Union, and since this is quite a standard way to publish a first book, especially poetry, we have to wonder why it did not happen sooner. The poems in the book are only a fraction of what was available from various anthologies and almanachs, including the English-language collection Six Young Lithuanian Poets, compiled by Kerry Shawn Keyes. Išteku, which is a pun that can mean both ‘I’m getting married’ and ‘I’m flowing out’, was very warmly received by the literary world, and most of the reviews focused on the feminine aspects of the book, some even inferring mythological subtexts. Many commentators also noted an undercurrent of religious and spiritual reflection.