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Dear Anais

This letter was adapted from the introduction of my poetry book, DEAR ANAIS:

MY LIFE IN POEMS FOR YOU (Plain View Press, 2008)

Dear Anaïs:

Ever since discovering your journals nearly ten years ago, I have kept them stacked on my bedside table. Although I've read the collection from beginning to end, lately I've found myself randomly flipping through to read some of your very compelling passages. Your words have inspired my own, and for years, whenever I have been stuck or my pen negotiated its flow, I've turned to your diaries for inspiration.

While studying your history, I learned that there were parallels in our lives. My grandmother and mentor, Regina Klein, was also born in 1903, and, like you, she was a diarist. Your death in 1977 was only months before my marriage to the love of my life, Simon. Some time ago, I wrote a letter to your brother, Joaquin, but much to my chagrin, he never wrote back. I looked for any, albeit minute, connection to your spirit and some way of showing my appreciation for your presence in my life.

Two years ago, I was delighted to have been invited to an event at The Los Angeles Hammer Museum to what would have been your 105th birthday celebration. This was one of the highlights of my adult life. Presentations were made by some of your dearest friends: Tristine Rainer, Deena Metzger, Bebe Barron, and Eric Lloyd Wright. I wish you could have been there as they shared anecdotes from encounters with you, as well as some of your written passages. It was interesting to hear Tristine say how you taught her to dig deeper with her writing, something you also taught me just by the nature of reading your work. I also thought you would like to know that Tristine wrote the Preface to my recent poetry collection, "Dear Anais: My Life in Poems for You," and since then we have become very good friends and try to have lunch together a few times each year. We thank you for bringing us together.

There are so many things I enjoyed about reading your journals, I don't know where to start. I really liked your entries about the house Eric built for you and Rupert. One of everyone's fascinating revelations was how you had two husbands at the same time‹one in Los Angeles and one in New York­ and how you spent six weeks with one and then the other. Apparently, some of your friends who were at the Hammer that night, knew about your lifestyle, but it wasn't revealed openly until after your death. Everyone spoke of you with such high regard, how you loved parties and helping people, and how you were so sensitive to other people's needs, and to those in your circle you were the best possible friend.

This new connection to you makes me feel even closer, and it seems even more poignant that I dedicate this book of poems to you this year. My poetry was born in my journal and tells the story of my life. The poems were all written from my heart and fluctuate from a deep place of pain to a high state of joy.

You've taught me the intrinsic value of the written word, how to dig deeper into my emotional truth, and the importance of having love in my life. And for all these gifts, I thank you.

With love,

Diana Raab