Thursday, November 22, 2012

Mozart In The Atrium

Art MovesOKC presented by Devon sponsors my Mozart Piano Sonatas in the Atrium of OKC's Downtown Library. Noon. Free. Casual. Stroll in for a while, or stay the hour.

Meditation Made Simple

Based on the sAmaveda, the Veda of Sound, this session will focus on introducing a specific technique which opens the door to one's own "within" through the simple process of listening

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Michael Segers On Marguerite Young - The Rest Of The Story

Wayne, you asked about my experience in Marguerite Young's writing class, but every experience with Marguerite was so much a part of a huge net of interlocking experiences, that I am going to have to give you more than you asked for.
I first heard of Marguerite Young when I saw in an encyclopedia yearbook covering the year the novel came out, the famous photo of her leaning wearily against the towering manuscript of Miss MacIntosh, My Darling. About a year later, I saw the book listed for a dollar in a remainder catalog.
A few years later, when I was a sophomore in college, one of the English professors had met her and includedMiss MacIntosh, My Darling in the readings of his Contemporary Fiction course. By the time I took the course the next year, he had changed the readings, but at least I had bought the paperback and had begun to read it.
A few years later, after completing an M.A. in English (writing my thesis on Jerzy Kosinski's novel Steps), I moved to New York and found myself a tiny fifth-floor walk-up in Greenwich Village, Back then (the mid seventies), the Village still had characters and still had character. Before long, I began seeing Marguerite Young all over the place, including on the roof of her apartment building. How I knew this was Marguerite Young, I cannot say. Now, I am inclined to say, who else could it have been?
I worked within walking distance of my Village apartment (the best feature of which was an unobstructed view of the Empire State Building) at the American Center of P.E.N., the international literary organization, which at that time had its office on lower Fifth Avenue.
I certainly had no shortage of writers in my life. For example, one day, I was at my desk (typing on the typewriter on which Richard Wright wrote Invisible Man), and my Danish boss popped around the corner, with a rather rumpled but clean-shaven man. "Allen, I'd like you to meet Michael Segers, who helps us out here." The British accent with which she spoke seemed to be especially lilting. "And, Michael, I'd like you to meet Allen Ginsberg." I did get to meet Allen Ginsberg, but it was after he had shaved his beard.
After I heard about Marguerite's legendary creative writing classes at the New School (a Village institution), I questioned whether I wanted to part with something I did not have much of (money) for something that I already had plenty of (time spent with a writer).
Obviously, I took the class.
The first night, as I sat in the classroom of the New School........ and the text resumes with the previous post

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I asked Michael Segers to Remember Marguerite Young and he did - beautifully

a beautiful guest post by Michael Segers @msegers

The first night, as I sat in the classroom of the New School, I wondered what I had gotten myself in for. The hallways and classrooms were sterile, institutional, like so many classrooms in which I have tried to teach and tried to learn, but not at all like my Village. Once Marguerite entered, everything changed.
Marguerite was even shorter than I am. But, she could fill a room just by being in it. She stood at the door, giving us a sweeping glance, then entered, and sat, not at the desk but on it, her feet dangling. Although I had seen her several times, this was my first chance to look at her closely.
Her hair hung straight, and to me, it always seemed the color of tobacco stains, perhaps an effect of her heavy smoking. The hair framed her face, which was not the face of a beauty, but it was beautiful. If we ever have a mountain honoring women, along the lines of Mt. Rushmore, Marguerite's face should be on it, if not because she wrote the great American novel, then because her face looks as if it should be there.
Her body was swathed in layers of scarves, shawls, capes, necklaces, bringing together a wide range of colors and designs. I think she always wore at least one thing with a paisley. And her feet were usually shod in boots that looked as if a fairy tale character should don them before heading off on a quest.
But, once she opened her mouth, the impression changed. She spoke with a flat, Midwestern twang; she was a Hoosier, a proud native of Indiana. It was as if when she spoke, she admitted that her elegant name Marguerite is just a French variant of Daisy.
I cannot remember much advice that she gave about writing. Perhaps most memorably, she said that fiction-writers should not read the fussy and fusty New York Times but instead the rollicking, down and dirty New York Daily News.
What I remember vividly are the fictions that she spun -- or, perhaps, they weren't fictions -- as if she were spinning us into her dreamlike novel. One bitterly cold night, she arrived late, complaining that every clock in the Village had frozen at a different time. She was always reporting about famous people she had shared the sidewalks with. There was a cigar store across the street from Sheridan Square, where she was always seeing Edgar Allan Poe. But she also was interested in more recent people. She seemed to have a special fondness for Amy Carter, Jimmy Carter's daughter. (These were the heady days of the 1976 presidential campaign, when people would buy me drinks to hear me talk my "honeysuckle talk.")
I took her writing class for two semesters, but she has never left my life. I would often see her and chat with her at Pennyfeathers, a little coffee shop which was her second home. Since she did not even have a kitchen in her large apartment with red floors, she had to go out to eat, and as she sat at the counter, she not only took advantage of willing audiences, she also practiced her almost psycho-therapeutic conversational skills in which she, for all her talk, would draw out sometimes unexpected words from the people around her.
After I left New York, whenever I returned, I would stop by Pennyfathers, sit a few seats from her, and wait until she scanned the room, as she had that first night at the New School. She would see me, wave, and call me by name. I do not believe that there was anything all that memorable about me, but she had a capacity to embrace multitudes... and to remember their names as well.
One year, since I was in New York across my birthday, a friend offered to give me a party and asked whom I would like to invite. Of course, I invited Marguerite, and she came, sat in the center of the room, and to the discomfort of my hostess had all eyes and ears drawn to her. The next year, I was back in the city for my birthday. My friend -- old Village nobility herself -- again offered me a party, but when I mentioned inviting Marguerite, she said, "I think not."
I quit returning to New York, settling back in to my native Georgia, but I would occasionally swap a note with her, and I would hear bits of news (analogous to The New York Times) or gossip (think of The New York Daily News). In 1995, she died, and a few years later, a painfully truncated version of her masterpiece of nonfiction, a biography of Eugene V. Debs, Harp Song for a Radical, came out.
By then, I was writing some online essays, and I felt compelled to write an essay on two great but neglected authors: Georgia's own Caroline Miller and my own Marguerite Young. I was fortunate to get a niece of Caroline Miller to contribute an essay on her aunt, and I had the sheer pleasure of not so much writing about Marguerite as trying to evoke her presence with my words.
A few years later, I received an email from a woman from India who had found my online essay about Marguerite. She wrote me about spending a rainy season when she was a child reading Miss MacIntosh, My Darling, but never getting the book from the library again. I could imagine how Marguerite would have cherished that story.
And then came Twitter. When I first signed up for Twitter, I began searching for topics that people had referred to that might mean that I would like to follow them. I entered Marguerite's name into the Twitter search box, and I found...
Well, Wayne, as you know, I found you, and I am so glad that Marguerite found a new way to be a part of my life.
Whenever I think about Marguerite, it seems as if she somehow shows up, as Edgar Allan Poe did at the cigar shop. Even though the suburban Florida cul-de-sac on which I live would be at least as unlikely a fit for her as it is for me, I think I just saw a little woman with tobacco-colored hair, wrapped in layers of clouds or clothes, marching with her familiar, determined gait past, of all things, a palm tree.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Marguerite Young

Marguerite Young.
Truman Capote called her "the cow" - they had been buddies at one point, in days of yore, but had fallen out over an assortment of issues, filamental she would have said, the cow, filamental my dear Truman. He was not charmed by her genius, rather, and I go into the drawer of words here with great concern that I emerge with just the thing in hand, no paltry substitute, rather he was threatened.
Ah and thereby hangs the tale, or several tales.
to be continued
"If your one concern is to create literature, to create something of beauty, something that will endure a little while, then you cannot bother yourself with the other stuff-you just can't do that to'll see..." and then her voice would trail off, always with the echoic laughter, or shadow of laughter, or perhaps memory of laughter, always, always....
and then you were left, bereft....
it had always been the fact, always...
So of course when she took up the thread to trace it between her fingers again she spoke of Beethoven, oh, I do hope he'll be will trace the symbolism of his consciousness through masterstrokes of ingenuity, you will dazzle, but it will be with his brilliance you will shine, with his depths and his ponderings, his fist clenching high drama and his softening diminuendos....
yes, to be continued to be sure....