YEREVAN/FLORENCE — Writer and composer Baret Magarian was born in London and currently lives in Florence. He was educated at Durham and London Universities. Magarian has worked as a translator, musician, interviewer, journalist, lecturer, book representative and in PR.
In London, he was a freelance journalist, published fiction in many magazines, wrote book reviews, features, and articles which have appeared in all the major British broadsheets.
He began his career by writing features and reviews for The Times, The Guardian, The Observer, The Independent and The New Statesman, then published fiction in World Literature Today, Journal of Italian Translation, the online magazines El Ghibli, Sagarana, and Voyages. His poetry has appeared in the Florentine magazine Semicerchio and the Australian anthology Contrappasso. Magarian has published four books: The Fabrications (Pleasure Boat Studio), Melting Point (Italian translation, Quarup), Mirror and Silhouette (Albion Beatnik Press) and Chattering with all my favourite Beasts (Italian and English, Ensemble). He has recorded an album of acoustic rock, composed and performed piano music in the vein of Alkan and Jarrett, and recently staged his monologue “The Pain Tapestry” in Florence and Turin to great success.
Dear Baret, I highly enjoy interviewing people with versatile background and activities. Perhaps you can understand me, yourself having interviewed interesting people, among them such diverse figures as Peter Ustinov, John Calder and Salman Rushdie. What do you like more in that process?
I like the whole process of interviewing a person: the research and preparation, the actual interview, the audience participation, if there is any — depends on whether the interview is conducted in private or public or is written (like this one) or aural/recorded and the publication of the interview (if it does get published). The key to revealing the person lies, I believe, in demonstrating absolute respect for the interviewee (through the tone of voice, through body language) and in allowing the interviewee to speak absolutely freely, with no restrictions, no aggression on the part of the interviewer and no hidden agendas. It is important also to try and avoid any kind of psychological guessing/deducing: one’s own insights are nearly always wrong. There is a tendency for all media people to assume they know the truth about a person that they have worked out the real facts. This is erroneous. They were not there when the interviewee’s life was unfolding, so they can never know what it was really like to live those events, and to be that person. Of course the gifted interviewer can indeed have certain insights, even brilliant ones, but one must always be careful not to seem too clever, presumptuous or arrogant.
I mostly share your attitude about interviewing people. Florence always has attracted the British and other writers from all around the world. How Florentine inspirations are reflected in your literature?