A Community of Response

Old beer coated the floor of the dark dive bar, sticking to the soles of my shoes. As I waited for the main act, the people around me chattered on about about other musicians that I, too, liked. This would be the first concert that I went to alone.

Then, John Moreland lumbered on stage, a broad presence with a cascading brown beard. Strumming his guitar, emotion bled from his ragged voice as he sung song after song after song. I walked out grinning, trying to parse his simple but poetic lyrics.

But, I had nobody to immediately share my thoughts and feelings with–this is exactly why Linne and I created Reverberations. We wanted to develop a space for young people, like ourselves, to share our responses to art.

And really, all art is response, is communication, is expression. It’s dynamic and interactive. Moreover, engaging with art can be a simultaneously individual and communal experience. For instance, at that Moreland concert, I had my own distinct experience amidst a crowd of people that value the same music that I do. We should respond to art in a similar way because, in my opinion, criticism isn’t about what’s good or bad, it’s about exploring our experiences in relation to one another and to art itself.

Today, criticism has been clumped together and distilled into what’s “rotten” and what’s “fresh.” But art is so much different than this sort of ranking system. Art is more complicated, more confusing, and, frankly, more important than this type of criticism. This is especially true for young people, like myself, who are in the early stages of navigating our own identities through the art that we interact with.

While Reverberations is a place for criticism of all art forms, I have to admit that I hold a special place in my heart for live performance. These displays of art are short, fleeting, and unique. No two shows–no two experiences–are the same. Personally, I’ve found responding to live acts, through writing and otherwise, to be extremely challenging. How can you capture a moment? How does that moment change when it becomes memory?

If you are a student at Wesleyan University, we invite you join our community of response at MASH (Sept, 9th). Linne and I will have pens and paper at the Olin Stage and we will also be accepting submissions online. We encourage non-traditional and multi-media forms of response. If you won’t be joining us at MASH, we invite you to help us grow and expand our community. The best way to do this is to get in touch with us at Reverberationsmag@gmail.com, and, the next time you engage with art–respond. –Sage Marshall

Our guidelines for submissions, for MASH and otherwise, can be found at Reverberationsmag.com/submit.