Patti Smith

Patti is a poet; friend of Robert Mapplethorpe (she wrote about him in Just Kids.) She was part of the 70’s New York Lower East Side Renaissance, born too late for the Beats she nevertheless followed the spirit of Rimbaud and made friends with William Burroughs, he of Junky, Naked Lunch, and his wife’s murderer. She was an accomplished poet, seeing her work published in the zines of the day.

Patti’s breakthrough was to set her poetry to music; the poem Oath with a back-up band led to her first album, Horses. A collaboration with Bruce Springsteen and a #1 hit record followed.

Then she retreated to the Midwest and married life, only to emerge twenty years later as if nothing had happened. Before you adjudge Patti of “aberrant behavior,” keep in mind that the rules she follows are those of the French poetes maudites: Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud; those who sought insight through a derangement of the senses. Only by that standard can she be judged. Political activist she was not; something tells me that she would not suffer Republican book clubs in the Detroit suburbs at all. Patti a sell-out?

Pas possible.