Agate Nesaule

Have you ever read a book that really shook your world? Agate Nesaule's A Woman in Amber was one of those books for me. I bought it after hearing her speak at UW-Whitewater my first semester of undergrad. 

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I finished it the next morning at 4am, exhausted, devastated, my head and chest sore, my eyes swollen from crying.

Soon after I gave the book away. I couldn't look at it. I couldn't even have it in my room. The story and the storytelling were that powerful. 

The experience of reading that book has been inscribed on my heart ever since (over 20 years now), along with great tenderness for the woman who lived the story and wrote it down.

So imagine my excitement when Agate Nesaule contacted me a few months ago to have her portrait taken for a book that will be published this year. It is Latvia's centenary of becoming an independent state and her book will be a gift to her homeland.

Yesterday I got to visit her eastside Madison home to show her the finished images. I learned that Agate loves gardening, frogs, floral patterns, house plants. I learned that she is not religious although she collects images and statues of angels and saints. Her cozy house is filled with books and pictures and photographs -- she has a collection of photographs in the kitchen that she calls her "ancestor worship." The photograph that she is holding here is of her mother and baby Agate.

What an incredible woman.

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Bobbie Harte