Word­smith

Patti Smith dis­cusses mat­ters of life, death, love and art with Tony Clayton-Lea ahead of her show in Sk­ib­bereen

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Front Page -

FEW AND far be­tween or just plain unique? We’d have to go for the lat­ter in the case of Patti Smith, who, at 64, is what­ever you wish to de­scribe her as: poet, singer, song­writer, lover, vis­ual artist, thinker, God­mother of Punk, writer, vi­sion­ary, mother, po­lit­i­cal ir­ri­tant, so­cial ac­tivist, widow, artist, award­win­ning mem­oirist, Grammy nom­i­nee, Com­man­der of the Or­dre des Arts et des Let­tres.

“If one hopes to live a long life then one can look back and think that so many years have passed, but I’ve done so much in the past 40 years. I’ve pro­duced work, pro­duced chil­dren, I keep work­ing, I keep try­ing to live in the present and stay healthy. I look to the fu­ture, ac­tu­ally.

“I don’t di­vide my life be­tween past, fu­ture and present. I’m liv­ing, and all of these ages are within me. I don’t turn my back on my past. I think about it: my child­hood, my fam­ily. Many of my peo­ple are dead, and ev­ery day I think about my brother, my hus­band and my friends who are gone. Not so much with nos­tal­gia or sen­ti­men­tal­ity but as a liv­ing part of me.”

Smith is talk­ing from New York, where she has lived for more than 15 years. She moved there from Detroit af­ter her hus­band, Fred “Sonic” Smith, and her brother, Todd, died within a short space of time of each other, and as she speaks about most things art-re­lated, you can sense that loss em­anates from her like a vapour trail. Yet she is steely, this Patti Smith. It would be wrong to de­fine her as a sur­vivor merely be­cause of her age, yet there is that el­e­ment of a life lived amid tur­moil, ex­cite­ment, tragedy, ad­ven­ture, art and fun. At 64, Smith re­mains a com­pelling fig­ure, a re­ward­ing artist, not least be­cause she has been,

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