The High Priestess of Punk Meets the National Book Critics Circle: Patti Smith's Just Kids Up for Another Award
Here is an excerpt from the blog of the National Book Critics Circle Board of Directors:
In Just Kids, poet and performer Patti Smith, who would one day be dubbed “the high priestess of punk rock,” recreates the charmed life she once shared with artist Robert Mapplethorpe, who would one day be both lauded and reviled for his shocking homoerotic and sado-masochistic photographs.
There’s a mythic quality to her book, a haunting melancholy tone about a time––the late 1960s––in which not just the pair were innocent but life itself was, or seemed to be, more innocent. The political and cultural explosions of the late sixties were yet to occur, and the unraveling of sexual restraints that marked the seventies was still in its infancy. A bohemian existence was cheap, simple; the East Village, its air filled with pot smoke, was “a roving community of young people, sleeping in the parks, in makeshift tents” and according to Smith, young women could find a night’s shelter even in a city graveyard without entertaining “fear of men on the prowl.”
She and Mapplethorpe were both unsophisticated refugees from the sticks, Patti from small-town New Jersey, Mapplethorpe from Floral Park, Queens. Both left their homes and families when they were twenty, just kids, and came to New York penniless and in search of their true selves. A chance encounter brings them together, they quickly form a passionate attachment––Mapplethorpe is not yet fully cognizant of his homosexuality––and for several years afterward they share meager finances, diverse living quarters, physical intimacy, and romantic daydreams. Patti isn’t sure what she wants to be, but hopes to be an artist of some kind. Robert knows he’s a visual artist, but not the paths his talent will take him. She wants to discover her metier. He yearns for fame and fortune.
Read more about keynote speaker Patti Smith