From teenage poet, to published essayist, to aspiring memoirist. From college student, to global wanderer, to writing teacher. Author Laura Bernstein-Machlay has been on some journeys, both figurative and literal. And all of them have Detroit at their center.
“Detroit has such a personality all its own,” Bernstein-Machlay said during a recent interview. “No matter where I went – and I traveled all over the place in my twenties, my life was a grab bag – I always felt in my heart and in my soul like a Detroiter.”
A 1985 U-M graduate with a degree in english literature and creative writing, Bernstein-Machlay grew up in Birmingham, but her grandparents lived in Detroit, and throughout her girlhood she spent as much time with them as she could. Her grandfather, Harry Siegel, attended the university in the 1930s, graduated with a degree in education, and enjoyed a long career teaching music in the Detroit Public Schools.
Bernstein-Machlay said her love of music, including the music of words, along with her love of Detroit was inspired, at least in part, from him.
“Even when Detroit was known by the outside world as being dangerous, that was not my experience. My grandparents lived here and loved it here and never left. As a teenager, my friends and I would go hear music in the clubs in Detroit and since then I’ve always told people, ‘I’m a Detroiter.’ I’ve just always felt it.”
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