In Chinese astrology, 2016 was the year of the monkey. It is also the year in which Donald Trump was elected President of the United States. A busy year, therefore, which, for Patti Smith, begins on the West Coast.
The artist just gave a series of concerts in San Francisco and then planned to travel to Santa Cruz with a friend to work on a new art project. But the friend in question is hospitalized urgently, and Patti Smith goes alone to this seaside town where the cry of sea lions can be heard at night.
Poet, writer, singer, photographer… Patti Smith is a complete and complex artist, a tireless globetrotter and a human being endowed with great creativity. Those who subscribe to her Instagram account know that writing is an intrinsic part of her life, a daily act that she practices a lot in coffee shops, in New York or abroad.
In Year of the monkey, which is a diary form of the year before its 70e birthday, Patti Smith tackles themes that are dear to her: writing, of course, creation, friendship, the relationships that make us and that inhabit us even once the people are gone.
She also reflects on old age as this pivotal anniversary approaches, which will tip her into the last period of her life.
Like a dream
When you read Patti Smith, you have to accept to enter her dreamlike world populated by eccentric characters and parallel realities. Heir to André Breton and the surrealists, Patti Smith lets herself be guided by her unconscious and works a lot from her dreams.
In Santa Cruz, she takes up residence at the Dream Motel. As in Alice in Wonderland – she also quotes Lewis Caroll -, the objects come alive, and here she is in deep conversation with the motel poster… Patti Smith has many encounters and, as in dreams, each of these encounters is a door that opens onto another reality, another story. Ultimately, it’s not the story that’s important, it’s the path – or, if you prefer, writing as a process – that is at the heart of his work.
Words – their form, their sound – become materials from which Patti Smith creates and wanders. We let ourselves go in our daydreams with sometimes the impression of making a trip of soft drugs with her …
Throughout her journey, which will take her from the West Coast to the East Coast, Patti Smith summons her favorite authors: Artaud, Bolaño, Ginsberg… Writers who inhabit her and whom she often quotes, in her books and on Instagram, a platform that occupies an important place in his creative work.
Sam Shepard’s Love
There are all the same concrete things in Patti Smith’s universe: the food (she details everything she eats) and the coffee, her fuel. She is always looking for a coffee or a having dinner where she will take up residence to read, write, dream.
Yes Just kids spoke about his relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, Year of the monkey lingers on the one with Sam Shepard, who succumbed in July 2017 to Lou Gehrig’s disease. The writer, actor and playwright has been a great love in Patti Smith’s life, and they have never lost that bond. So she will join him at his home in Kentucky, when his days are numbered.
Together they will complete Shepard’s last book, Spy of the First Person. Together, these two will have been creative and accomplices until the last breath.
>>> Note that Patti Smith is also reinventing herself. On November 27, she will offer a virtual concert, Patti Smith: A Black Friday Experience, at 3 p.m. EST.