Barbara Kraft’s reading from Anais Nin: The Last Days

On March 7, the program Lust Letters: Answering Desire With Words was held at Coagula Curatorial in Los Angeles, which included artwork and readings. Among the performers was Barbara Kraft, who read from her memoir Anais Nin: The Last Days, a book that chronicals Kraft’s friendship with Nin during her final two years of life. A synopsis of the reading is as follows:

Barbara Kraft and artwork. Photo: Paul Hughen

Barbara Kraft and artwork at Coagula Curatorial. Photo: Paul Hughen

Barbara Kraft closed the evening with an account of author Anais Nin’s final days, implicitly lassoing together the writings of Aarested with the creative process of Nin modeled by Youd.

Kraft, who formerly worked as a journalist and now runs her own boutique public relations firm, recalled meeting Nin on February 8, 1974 in the author’s Silverlake glass house. Kraft said she was mesmerized by her.

“[Nin] was tall, wearing a floor-length Indian gown…She was poetry in body,” said Kraft, who read an excerpt from her e-book “Anais Nin: The Last Days – A Memoir.”

Kraft described Nin as her teacher during the acclaimed writer’s final years.

“The tutorial relationship turned into an intimacy,” said Kraft, who said that as Nin died of cancer, her body weakened and her pain intensified.

“At one point, I literally got in bed with her, at her request, to hold her,” said Kraft.

Kraft’s diary from her meetings with Nin were compiled and published in “The Restless Spirit: Journal of a Gemini.” Publication ended her marriage, and Kraft’s “whole life came crashing down,” she said.

“If you want to change your life, you pay a price,” Kraft added.

-Matt Hamilton

To read the entire review of the event by Matt Hamilton, click here.

Anais Nin: The Last Days is available as an e-book and can be ordered here.

To read an excerpt from Anais Nin: The Last Days on Huffington Post, click here.

Who wrote “Risk”? Is the mystery solved?

Have we solved the mystery of who wrote the popular poem attributed to Anais Nin, known as “Risk”?

I can say this: Since posting this mystery a few years ago, nowhere has its source been found in any of Anais Nin’s oeuvre. So how did it come to be attributed to her?

That remains a mystery.

However, Elizabeth Appell has come forward with a compelling case that may hold the answer of who, if not Anais, actually wrote the poem:

What I’m about to tell you is going to seem strange and maybe even impossible, but it is the truth. I wrote the quote, “And the day came when the risk to remain closed in a bud became more painful that the risk it took to blossom.”

I wrote it in 1979. I was Director of Public Relations for John F. Kennedy University in Orinda. One of my responsibilities was to write, edit, and publish the class schedule which included events, news, and class information for the up-coming quarter. The target market for the university was and still is, adults going back to school. Every quarter I came up with a theme meant to inspire and motivate.

BrochureI believe it was January when I started on the spring schedule. Up against a deadline, I quickly jotted down the line, and shared it by my colleague, Jerry Skibbins, Vice President of Development. He liked it so we ran with it. Consequently it went out to thousands of households in the East Bay. We also published a poster and put it on BART trains. This was a very wide distribution. As far as I know, attribution was given to the artists who illustrated the designs, but I never thought to attribute myself regarding the poem. My name appeared only as “Editor.”

Another wrinkle: at the time I was using my nickname, “Lassie” as well as my first husband’s last name, Benton. I was known as Lassie Benton. Since then I gave up the nickname to use my given name, Elizabeth, and remarried Allen Appell, hence Elizabeth Appell.

From the beginning the school got a huge response from the poem. I started seeing it woven into tapestries, and then printed on posters, cards and in books. At first the attribution was “Lassie Benton.” One afternoon I attended a calligraphy show at the San Francisco Library. There was the poem, but now the attribution was “Anonymous.” Sometime in the 80’s I found a card using the poem. I bought because it was attributed to Anais Nin. I wrote to the publisher of the card, but received no response. I just let it go.

Recently I gave a reading in Nevada City, California as a part of a women’s writing salon. The woman who read before me began her piece with the poem. I smiled. “What do you know, it still lives.” She was shocked when I told her I’d written it. She suggested I Google the poem to see that always it is attributed to Anais Nin. I did. I am astounded at how it has proliferated the internet, almost always attributed to Anais Nin.

I say almost because I found a life coach in Arizona who uses the poem on her home page. There it is attributed to “Lassie Benton.” She tells me her web page went up in 2006, but she can’t remember where she found the poem.

Yesterday two of my friends brought me copies of their newly published books. Yes, in both books, up front, there it is. The poem. And of course it’s attributed to Anais Nin. That pushed me over to take action.

I wrote the poem in 1979. I am the author of the poem. I’m extremely honored to have written something that has touched so many people.

Elizabeth kindly produced the 1979 brochure on which the poem is printed, as seen above. Judge for yourselves, folks, but it seems that this mystery may be solved.

For a reliable source of Anais Nin quotes, get THE QUOTABLE ANAIS NIN: 365 Quotations with Citations.

Want to catch up with Anais Nin? THE PORTABLE ANAIS NIN contains nearly 300 pages of her best work.

For information on a NEW COLLECTION OF ANAIS NIN EROTICA, visit here.