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

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for includiing this, Wayne. I suppose one thing I learned from Marguerite was not to use five words if five hundred would do. Thanks for accommodating me.

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