Anais Nin Takes Center Stage in LA’s Chinatown Event

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – February 27, 2013 Media Contact: Barbara Kraft Communications and Public Relations 818.760.8498; Barbara@bkraftpr.com

LUST LETTERS READINGS PRESENTED BY CHINATOWN’S COAGULA CURATORIAL MARCH 7, 2013, 7:30 p.m.

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Photo credit: Eric Minh-Swenson

LOS ANGELES, CA – In conjunction with Coagula Curatorial Gallery’s Lust Letters exhibition, the Gallery is presenting an evening of performance and readings March 7, 2013, 7:30 p.m.  The exhibition features Tim Youd’s Delta of Venus – a 30-foot piece of art inspired by Anais Nin’s erotic writings.  Youd will perform his rendition of selections from Nin’s Delta of Venus.

Curator Joan Aarestad will address Eroticism in Art: A Woman’s View and writer Barbara Kraft will read from her newly published EBook Anais Nin: The Last Days.

Coagula Curatorial is part of the Chung King Road Gallery Row located in historic Chinatown in downtown Los Angeles at 977 Chung King Road. (323) 480-7852;  www.coagulacuratorial.com

For further information please contact Barbara Kraft Communications at 818.760.8498.

Read an Excerpt of Anais Nin: The Last Days

Barbara Kraft’s new memoir, Anais Nin: The Last Days is getting a lot of press lately, including a substantial excerpt on Huffington Post.

To read the excerpt, go to Huffington Post by clicking here.

To order the book, click here.

 

 

Press release for Anais Nin: The Last Days

For Immediate Release: December 5, 2011

SKY BLUE PRESS ANNOUNCES THE EBOOK PUBLICATION OF
ANAIS NIN: THE LAST DAYS
A MEMOIR
BY BARBARA KRAFT

San Antonio, TX   “I have chosen to reveal the intimacies of Anaïs Nin’s last days as I witnessed them so that the story of her death is not lost. Everything comes back in the mind’s eye. Everything comes back in the crucible of the heart. She remains in my psyche all these years later as the most refined and rarified human being I have ever encountered.”

Thus begins Barbara Kraft’s memoir, Anaïs Nin: The Last Days. With her sometimes loving and sometimes raw prose, Kraft has done what no biographer, no scholar, no film could do: capture the humanity, mortality, and essence of one of the twentieth century’s most celebrated and yet mysterious literary figures. Anaïs Nin: The Last Days is available on Amazon’s Kindle, and soon the Nook, iPad, Sony Reader, as well as other e-book-friendly devices such as the iPhone and will be available through nearly every credible device worldwide.

Anaïs Nin, noted for her diaries and erotica, was at the height of her fame when she took on Barbara Kraft as a writing student. Quickly, the two became intimate friends at the moment when both would encounter tragedy: Kraft’s impending cataclysmic divorce and Nin’s terminal cancer. The circumstances created an environment of interdependency: Nin, despite her failing health, supported Kraft’s writing and life decisions, and Kraft became a devoted and untiring part of Nin’s support system during her last two years of life.

As Kraft observes,

“Illness is the great leveler from which none of us is immune. It flushes out all the old, buried truths and puts us in touch with the essential meaning of things. There is no time, no energy for masks, veils, labyrinths, interior cities, or multiple hearts. Death hovered over her, the one reality that Anaïs could not transcend or transmute or transform or levitate with the magic of words. It was a reality she met with a dignity that tore at the heart of all of us who knew her and were close to her.”

Kraft describes her initial meeting with Nin in February 1974, writing that Nin was poetry embodied and seemed to “glide” over the rose-colored carpet of her Silver Lake home “like a swan skimming the surface of still waters.” And in December of that year, Kraft begins what was to become a chronicle of Nin’s terrible two-year battle with cancer. She describes Nin’s vivid dreams during this period, her many trips to a healer in the Mojave Desert, and her frequent requests that Kraft wear her dresses when she went out, saying, “You will take my spirit with you out into the world.”

Because of the overwhelming reality of cancer, Anaïs Nin was stripped down to her bare essence, which Kraft captures expertly. She poignantly records not only Nin’s stubborn grip on life, but also the heroic efforts that Rupert Pole, Nin’s west coast lover, made to shield her from the inevitable pain, agony, and humiliation associated with the disease. It is a monumental tribute to not only those fighting for their lives, but also the forgotten ones—the caregivers.

The very personal events in this book can be appreciated by anyone who has gone through terminal disease or know someone who has. So, like Nin herself, the raw reality of Anaïs Nin: The Last Days becomes symbolic, mythical, and universally inspirational.

A former reporter for Time, Washington Post, People, USA Today, and Architectural Digest, Barbara Kraft is author of The Restless Spirit: Journal of a Gemini, with a preface by Anaïs Nin, and the recently published memoir Anais Nin: The Last Days, which Nin biographer Noel Riley Fitch calls “intimate and beautifully written.” Kraft’s work has appeared in Hudson Review, Michigan Quarterly, and Columbia Magazine, and among the many radio programs she has hosted and produced is Transforming OC, a two-part documentary on the 2006 opening of the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa. Kraft lives and writes in Los Angeles, California.

Sky Blue Press, established in 1996 by Paul Herron, is “dedicated to the preservation of literature as art,” and strives to achieve this goal with each publication. Titles include Anaïs Nin: A Book of Mirrors (1996); To Purify the Words of the Tribe: The Major Verse Poems of Stéphane Mallarmé (1999); The Winter of Artifice: 1939 Edition by Anaïs Nin (2007); A Café in Space: The Anaïs Nin Literary Journal (2003-present); and e-book versions of Anaïs Nin’s fiction, including House of Incest, Under a Glass Bell, and A Spy in the House of Love; The Portable Anaïs Nin (2011); and Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, a memoir by Barbara Kraft (2011).

To purchase Anaïs Nin: The Last Days, click here.

Website: www.skybluepress.com
Contact: skybluepress@skybluepress.com

ANAIS NIN’S STUDENTS, A CELEBRATION

ANAIS NIN’S students read their work and discuss her impact on their lives
Featuring NANCY SHIFFRIN, LEAH SCHWEITZER, and NAN HUNT.

310.822.3006 info@beyondbaroque.org
681 Venice Bl., Venice, CA 90291
December 16, Friday 7:30 PM

NANCY SHIFFRIN is a poet, critic, and teacher. She earned her MA studying with ANAIS NIN. She earned her PhD at The Union Institute studying Jewish-American Literature. Her work has won awards and honorable mentions from The Academy of American Poets, The Alice Jackson Foundation, The Poetry Society of America, The Pushcart Prize, and The Dora Teitelbaum Foundation. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Times, The Canadian Jewish Outlook, Religion and Literature, Humanistic Judaism, New York Quarterly, Earth’s Daughters, and numerous other periodicals. Her books are what she could not name (poems), MY JEWISH NAME (essays), and her most recent poetry collections: THE VAST UNKNOWING and GAME WITH VARIATIONS UniBook.com. Through Creative Writing Services, her literary arts consultancy, she helps aspiring writers achieve publication and personal satisfaction. She teaches English at Los Angeles Valley College. Website: http://home.earthlink.net/~nshiffrin/

With the encouragement of ANAIS NIN, LEAH SCHWEITZER has conducted classes and workshops in journal writing and creative writing since 1976. She is the co-editor of the poetry anthology Without a Single Answer [Judah Magnes Museum Press, 1990], and has participated in readings and programs for such venues as Beyond Baroque, Elderhostel, L.A. Poetry Festival, Valley Contemporary Poets, Black Oak Books, Skidmore and Goucher Colleges, the Sculpture Gardens, Venice Jail, and at many local arts conferences. Her work appears in such publications as Bitterroot, Apalachee Quarterly, CQ, Small Press Review, Shirim, The Otto Rank Journal, Confrontation, Crosscurrents, The Skirball Cultural Center Magazine, Ariel, Heshbon, The Journal of Humanistic Psychology, The New L.A. Poets, and The Sculpture Gardens Review. She considers her time as a student of ANAIS NIN to be among the defining moments in her writing and teaching life.

NAN HUNT has taught for over thirty years: poetry, writing workshops, and college English. She innovated Jungian-based writing workshops for the UCLA Extension Writing Program: “Trusting the Spontaneous Voice” and “Tygers & Medusas, Writing the Transformation of Anger”. Due to the success of these classes, she was invited to lecture and/or teach one-day to two-week workshops in more than thirty-five U.S. and European cities. She was presenter and panelist for Associated Writing Programs in Albany and Portland. Her poetry has appeared in over one hundred publications, including Poets On, Slant, Beloit, Poetry Journal, Southern California Anthology, New Millennium Writing, Kyoto Review, Poet India, (M)other Tongues, The Oregonian, Shelia-Na-Gig, and as finalist in Nimrod and Comstock Review. She has received poetry fellowships from Harcourt Brace, Centrum, Suffield College, and Hambidge Center for the Arts. The Wrong Bride is her recent collection of poems.

An Impromtu Reading by Anais Nin (played by Elyse Ashton)

Elyse Ashton

Elyse Ashton

Plans to stage Doraine Poretz’s play Anaïs Nin: Woman of the Dream are moving ahead. Fundraising has begun on kickstarter.com, and the campaign will continue until June 2, 2011; all investments are greatly appreciated. Rehearsals are scheduled to begin in the summer.

To promote the play, Elyse Ashton, who will portray Nin, spoke at a recent reading of stories and poetry entitled “A Woman’s Voice” that Poretz organized at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club.

Poretz comments: One of the speakers listed was Elyse Ashton, the actress, and the members of the audience had assumed she would be coming on as herself reading one of her stories. I announced, however, that Elyse, alas, couldn’t make it but that astonishingly enough I had run into the writer/diarist Anaïs Nin near her home in Silver Lake, and she generously agreed to come by to speak to the theme of women and creativity. And so, I introduced Elyse/Anaïs, who goes on to say, as you will hear in the video, how happy she was to have the chance to speak, especially since she knew about the “wonderful play that Doraine had written” and how impressed she was that the actress was a “mirror image” of herself! Anyway, it was a wonderful end to a great reading. What Elyse/Anaïs read were excerpts from the book A Woman Speaks, which I had received years ago from Rupert [Pole] with an inscription that from Anaïs’s point of view, it should have been entitled “A Woman Speaks Too Much!”

While most of the audience “got the joke” that “Anaïs” was actually an actress, apparently some were unaware that Anaïs passed more than 30 years ago and commented on how good she looks!

The 11 minute video can be viewed by clicking here.

For a former post that mentions a reading of the play that was presented during the summer of 2010, click here.

For a look at Nin titles available digitally, visit our e-bookstore.

Anaïs Nin as Inspiration: a Nin concept album

Recently, we have described how Anaïs Nin has inspired other artists: there have been numerous paintings, sculptures, films, plays, and other forms of artistic expression that are rooted in Nin’s life and work. Now we can add an entire album of music to the list. Pam Shaffer, a Los Angeles based singer-songwriter, has just released her first full length album based on Nin’s Paris diaries, entitled As We Are (culled from the famous Nin quote, “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are”) which includes the songs “Henry,” “Gonzalo,” “Hugh,” “June,” “Nanakepichu,” among others. Upon listening to the album, I immediately felt that Shaffer captured Nin’s aura and has allowed it to inform her songs.

I asked Shaffer to comment on her album; her thoughts follow:

aswearecoverI have played the piano for just about as long as I can recall and wrote my very first song about a baby falling out of a tree (rather derivative in retrospect and an odd commentary on children’s songs). Music was always my favorite mode of expression but I also painted a fair amount as a child and enjoyed writing poetry as an adolescent. For the majority of my time as a teenager I was terrified to sing in public. On occasion, I would play a Tori Amos cover or one of my own songs for friends. Unbeknownst to me, people at my high school actually listened, which came as a great surprise to me when years later, I ran into classmates who asked if I was still playing. I began performing in earnest in college.

There’s a line in a Jewel song that says, “You can be Henry Miller and I’ll be Anaïs Nin/This time it will be even better we’ll stay together in the end.” I remember hearing that line and wondering who those people were. Though my interest was piqued, it took me a few years to actually buy and read Henry and June. By the time I was 18, I had read it through several times and had moved onto her other diaries along with some of her essays. Reading her words was much like seeing my own thoughts committed to paper though they were ideas I had never dared to have before. I read her work consistently through college and wrote my independent honors thesis about how her life and art merged in an ideal state in the 1930s.

Anaïs’s life and work has affected me in a myriad of ways. Artistically, she has shown me that I must persevere and work within my own style whether it is popular or not. She writes in such a particular voice and does not stray from her own intuitive expression. She was not “successful” as a writer for much of her life, but she kept writing regardless. Her style is beautiful and accessible to me, but it might not be to others. She made her life into her art, which inspires me greatly. Though I do not always agree with the choices she made in her life, it is illuminating to read about her successes and failures as she attempted to live her life to its fullest degree. Her work reminds me not to settle for half-measures and to pursue my passions with all my energy. Clearly, her writing greatly influenced my own as I love the fluidity of her prose and the way she lets her stories unfold. I strive to write songs that operate the same way, utilizing the unconscious material and blending it with the conscious content.

A few years ago, the song “Henry” simply popped into my head. I wasn’t setting out to write a song about Anaïs and Henry, but there it was. It stood out quite a bit from the rest of my material, which was mostly drawn from my own life. I started to think that perhaps Henry was “lonely” and that I should write about June. Having written a thesis on Anaïs’s diaries, the source material was fresh in mind. Over the course of two years, I wrote all of the songs for the album. At the time, I was also writing songs about myself and other topics, but the Anaïs songs tended to have a distinct feel to them, a cohesive character that set them apart from my other work. I had an inkling that they were meant to be a concept album, and by the time I was mixing my previous EP, I was talking with my producer about recording the Anaïs songs together as an album. We began recording demos based on my sketches from my laptop recordings in early 2009, and that was the genesis of the album. My source materials span her dairies and unexpurgated works from 1930-1938, though I have also read House of Incest along with Cities of the Interior, so you never know what might have snuck in there.

In a way, her most famous quote was a perfect album title, because each of the songs is a different character. The songs are coming to the listener as “they” are, and each listener will take something different from them, thus fulfilling the concept of the quote. I think that quote is universal and insightful but was far too long for an album title. “As We Are” can be interpreted in many ways, but I hope it accurately depicts the nature of the album.

I recall telling my friend Karin Tatoyan about my idea for an Anaïs Nin concept album while sitting outside the Echo Curio on the curb of Sunset Blvd in Echo Park. She herself is an astonishingly talented musician, and she looked at me with wide eyes and said my idea was brilliant. I laughed and recounted how hard it was to find a thesis advisor because none of my professors were versed in the works of Anaïs Nin and that I couldn’t have possibly found a more obscure topic about which to write. She told me that very few people would have a clue what I was doing, but those who did would be thrilled, and those who did not would at the very least be intrigued by such a mysterious subject. Writing an album about Anaïs Nin matches the general theme of my life, which continuously reveals that I am quite good at accomplishing unusual, eccentric tasks but mediocre at best when it comes to easy and practical ones. I was always the kid who could do a one-handed cartwheel but might stub my toe while walking in my own room. I could solve an algebraic equation in my head but I might not count our change correctly. I am aware that I likely should have written or released a more general album first, one that was perhaps more easily relatable and accessible to draw people in before I delved into the unknown. However, I’ve never done things the easy way, and at least now my listeners will be those who will hopefully follow me down dark paths as well as well-lit ones.

To hear songs from, or to purchase the album, click here.

Anaïs Nin as Inspiration: the stage

For many years, the life and work of Anaïs Nin has inspired one genre of work in particular: the stage play, whether it be musical, dance, spoken word, or a combination of all of these elements. Lately the pace seems to have picked up: there are at least three plays worthy of mention, and most certainly others about which we have yet to hear.

From Anais Nin, Woman of the Dream

From Anais Nin, Woman of the Dream

Recently, we posted a notice for the reading of a play written by Doraine Poretz, entitled Anaïs Nin: Woman of the Dream, the script of which was read publicly by the actors in August 2010. The play, which incorporates the novel format of having Nin at different stages of her life onstage together, during which times they interact and sometimes clash about her life’s direction as compared with her young and idealistic visions. Characters from Nin’s diaries appear as well: Henry and June Miller, Gonzalo Moré, and her father, Joaquín Nin. According to Poretz, the reading was a smashing success, and there are plans to fully produce the play in the near future. We will keep you updated on new developments.

David StallingsAnaïs Nin Goes to Hell was a selection at the 2008 New York International Fringe Festival, where it received good reviews. Now, Stallings is presenting a reading of the play at 7:30pm Sunday, Sept. 26th, 2010 at Time Out New York Lounge @ New World Stages, located at 340 W. 50th St- NY, NY 10019. Thomas March’ s review of the play for A Café in Space, Vol. 6, 2009, is excerpted below:

Waiting for Nin in the afterlife, on a darkened island near Hades, are several exemplary women whose relationships with the men they loved have become legendary—Andromeda, Heloise, Queen Victoria, and Cleopatra. Each has spent eternity (thus far) longing for and awaiting the man she loved in life. Joan of Arc longs to meet the God whose voice she has come to rely on for guidance and for a sense of her own purpose.

From Anais Nin Goes to Hell (Photo: Erica Parise)

From Anais Nin Goes to Hell (Photo: Erica Parise)

When Anaïs Nin (Shelly Feldman) arrives on the island, she is surprised to find these great women languishing. Armed with her diaries, the most basic insights of psychoanalysis, and 20th Century pharmacology, Nin leaves the island’s inhabitants humbled, liberated—and sometimes destroyed. Feldman’s Nin is not merely a believable impersonation—and it is certainly that. Feldman captures the assurance and fervent urgency of Nin’s sensitivity and sympathy, manifested here in an impulse to free others from self-destructive, self-limiting desires.

Aly Wirth’s Heloise is the emotional foundation of the play, which opens with Heloise’s child-like sadistic teasing of Andromeda. It is Heloise whom Nin helps the most, reminding her of her own beauty and enabling her to recognize the love for Andromeda that has replaced her love for Abelard. Wirth must cover an emotional range that begins with brassy domination, proceeds through tender vulnerability, and ends in a profound disappointment that, shored up by her renewed faith in herself, she prevents from developing into despair and resignation. That’s a lot for any actor to manage, and the anguished silence of her pain commands just as much attention as her exuberant glee.

In his treatment of Anaïs Nin, Stallings has dramatized an important aspect of the process of self-actualization that Nin explored throughout her life—the difficulty of fashioning an approach to self-analysis that does not begin and end in self-regard. Stallings’ Nin quickly realizes the failures of her own understanding and, after first abandoning the Diary, rediscovers the value of what she can offer and realizes the value (or at least inevitability) of paths not her own. Faced with failure and, in some cases, just a simple unwillingness (or inability) to accept the freedom she offers, Nin learns that, however well-intentioned it may be, the imposition of the will—the forced revelation of the “truth” she offers—can have violent, destructive consequences.

Ultimately, those who are free when the play ends are those who can accept the painful fact that liberation from destructive habits does not always bring relief from pain—at least not at first. The freedom to see yourself clearly—and to love yourself fully—also allows you to see the truth about those who love you (or don’t). To love yourself only in terms of another’s love is to be lost in that other’s absence, trapped in an old identity that can only groan at its unraveling seams.

This is a play worth perfecting, as it offers a more thoughtful and subtle psychic landscape than its broad strokes might at first suggest.

sonia-16

Sonia Maslovskaya

Yet another play, An Erotic Evening with Anaïs Nin, is set to begin a run at the Sherry Theatre, 11052 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, CA 91601, from September 10th to October 16th, written by Michael Phillips (@MPhillipswrites). According to the web site (found here), the plot of the play is as follows:

Anais lived a public life; her diary was exhaustive and complete. But one weekend in the early 1950’s, while Anaïs was living in Los Angeles, she traveled to Arizona. No one, not even her closest friends ever knew why she went there.

The play is set on that missing weekend, at a mental institution, where June is a patient after attempting suicide. Anaïs, through conversations with June, a doctor and an imaginary Henry, the Henry Miller she knew in the early 1930’s, tries to work out why June asked for her and no one else, how she feels about Henry, about June, and if June is still in love with her. It is an emotional, shattering journey of secrets, seduction and betrayal.

To see a video of Phillips and the actress Sonia Maslovskaya (@lylyth79), who portrays Nin, discussing the play, click here. The video reveals fascinating insight of the creative process and how Nin still inspires art. It is well worth watching.

A Café in Space will be reviewing the play, and we will post the review on this blog as well as in Vol. 8, which comes out in February 2011.

Anaïs Nin as Inspiration

Anaïs Nin was the subject of artists from the time she was very young, when she posed for portraits. Her unique looks and delicate beauty were reproduced in many forms—paintings, sketches, sculpture, magazine cover art—over the years. Among the many artists who captured her image are Charles Dana Gibson (noted for his “Gibson Girls,” and whose renderings of Nin appeared in a Cuban newspaper in 1923) and Don Bachardy, who made one of his famous ink sketches of her some fifty years later in Los Angeles. For Nin’s impressions on being a young model, read The Early Diary of  Anaïs Nin, Vol. 2, 1920-23.

Gibson's drawing of Nin entitled "Little Mother"

Gibson's drawing of Nin entitled "Little Mother"

Nin’s image is also the of film, photography, and other media, including the photomontages of Val Telberg, whose art adorns the Swallow Press edition of House of Incest.

Nin was not always present during the time when artists tried to compose her image. For example, Henry Miller rarely composed his watercolors of Nin while with her, and neither did Swedish visual artist Karl Köhler (1919-2006), whose portrait of Nin appears below. Köhler, who was influenced by French literature and studied in Paris from 1950-1952, also composed an abstract ode to Henry Miller, having been inspired by the Rosy Crucifixion trilogy. This portrait is currently being auctioned.

"Anais Nin" by Karl Köhler

"Anais Nin" by Karl Köhler (Image courtesy Henry Kohler)

 

We welcome any and all tips to other obscure images of either Nin and Miller. If you know of any, please contact us via e-mail or leave a comment.

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