An Interview with Music & Literature

Michael Barron talks to Daniel Medin and Taylor Davis-Van Atta
Music & Literature, No. 4
From New Directions:
Michael Barron: What prompted the inception of Music & Literature? Could you describe the process from idea to publication?

Daniel Medin: Roberto Bolaño described his dream reader as the sort of person who engages with the complete works of an author. There’s an impulse behind this project similar to the drive to read every word by a writer like Dickinson, Kafka or—to choose a more recent example—Bolaño. Among the greatest delights of assembling each issue is the nature of the labor required: total submersion in the cosmos of a superlative artist. To my knowledge, no other journal comes close to satisfying this thirst for depth and sustained attention. In a publishing climate where commercial “viability” determines content, there’s a genuine need for such unapologetic focus. Despite its own host of challenges, being a not-for-profit assures us greater freedom of inclusion than most other editors enjoy. Quality and relevance determine the content, not word count or precedent.

Taylor Davis-Van Atta: And to plunge into the life’s work of Bolaño or Kafka—or Arvo Pärt, Max Neumann, Pina Bausch, Kaija Saariaho, Ingmar Bergman, among countless others—is a project without end. The works produced by these artists are inexhaustible, and deserve a class of accessible, smart, and enjoyable literature that meaningfully engages with them—and that provides the opportunity to discover what we haven’t encountered before. This is the base need we’re trying to address with the Music & Literature project.

In this sense, M&L began as an act of frustration, an impulse against a culture that’s too vast, diffuse, commercially-obsessed, and fleeting in its tastes to be taken seriously. In short, I wanted to publish the work that I myself wanted to read: work that spans disciplines and art forms, that pays no attention to national borders, that encourages contributions from a wide array of cultures and languages, and—above all—that aspires to the heights of the art it’s discussing.

M&L is an arts magazine, at once broadly defined and intensely focused. What has changed since its inception is our expansion into multiple venues; we now publish reviews and features online in complement to our print issues, and we’ve recently launched an ambitious events program that will take place year-round and around the world—with all of these activities concerted and aimed at serving a single mission. [Read More]

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