Excerpt from In Friendship: Anais Nin by Donna Emerson


The following essay appears in Tiferet’s Fall 2016 issue. The entire issue is available for immediate digital download.

I’d carefully planned every word I’d say to Anais when I first met her. The occasion was the Women’s Celebration at U.C. Berkeley, December, 1971. I went to see and photograph the writer who most captured my attention when I’d left my husband and lived alone for the first time in my life.

My camera went into action as Anais swept across the stage in her floor-length velvet winter gown. Using no flash at F8 for 1/30th of a second, I wondered if any of the two rolls would print worth anything. I took her as she read, as she spoke, every word elegant, and beautiful to my ears. Her hands fluttered and pointed, as a ballerina. Her voice so soft you had to lean to hear.

She was petite, smaller than I’d imagined, and perfectly formed. She floated above the floor in red velvet, the supple dancer she was trained to be. She appeared to me French, European. She spoke graciously, with great care. One could never imagine her getting angry at anyone. Someone later asked if she got angry and she responded, “Oh yes. And then I wait. It goes away.”

DONNA EMERSON lives in Petaluma, California, and her family homestead in New York. Recently retired from Santa Rosa Jr. College. Donna’s award-winning publications include the New Ohio Review, CALYX, and the Paterson Literary Review. She has published four chapbooks. Her most recent awards: nominations for a Pushcart, Best of the Net, and an Allen Ginsberg (2015) award.

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