Agate Nesaule unveils why she wrote about her past

Author shares with Emens audience memories as a WWII refugee

For more than 40 years, Agate Nesaule could not bring herself to write about the events detailed in her book "A Woman in Amber: Healing the Trauma of War and Exile."

Speaking to a packed crowd at Emens Auditorium Wednesday night, Nesaule revealed the history behind her writer's block as the audience learned more about her experiences as a World War II refugee.

For Nesaule, the memories that are now immortalized in her award-winning book took a long time to return to her.

"I compartmentalized," Nesaule said in a lingering Latvian accent. "I got to the point where I could put those gray areas in a box, and then I tried to do things like go (back) to school and get on with my life. But the images kept coming back."

Nesaule said, after the war, people did not talk about the way they were feeling.

"I was very ashamed of the things that had happened to me and my family, and I also felt a lot of guilt about what happened to others I saw," Nesaule explained.

While Nesaule was in high school, a teacher gave her a copy of "The Diary of Anne Frank," hoping to inspire her to write about her experiences during World War II.

Instead, Nesaule said she clammed up even more -- thinking that Frank's situation was much worse than her own, reinforcing her guilt about being alive.

But, as time went on, Nesaule began to slowly lift the veil away from a past she had worked so hard to keep secret.

Nesaule outlined six points and pieces of advice for students that helped her to write about her past, encouraging students to trust in themselves.

"Our memories are really quite miraculous," she said. "It's like magic, because once you touch one piece, others pop out."

For many students, attending Nesaule's speech encouraged them to read more of her work.

"I read half the book, but I wish I would have read more," said freshman David Greenwalt. "It was really good. And I've never had the opportunity to see an author speak like this before. I'm very glad I came."


More from The Daily

Loading Recent Classifieds...