Patti Smith: 'Horses' And The Life Of A Garage-Rock Punk Poet

By | November 9, 2020

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AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - OCTOBER 09: Patti Smith posed in Amsterdam, Netherlands on October 09 1976 (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)

Patti Smith, punk poet and savior of rock and roll, has lived at the intersection of the world of art, music, and poetry since the 1960s. Her relationships with Robert Mapplethorpe and Sam Shepard put her at the center the underground New York scene of the early '70s, and the spoken word poetry on her debut album, Horses, changed the way that we think about who a vocalist is and what it is they do. Standing front and center as one of the most cutting edge artists of the '70s, Smith was arguably the coolest person in the New York City demimonde, and one of the coolest people in the world. In one decade she released a groundbreaking album, befriended one of the most important photographers of the late 20th century, and co-wrote a hit single with Bruce Springsteen.

The world spoke to Patti Smith

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source: arista records

Patti Smith was only 16 years old when she discovered a book of poetry by Arthur Rimbaud, a French writer who believed that it was the job of the poet to shake regular people out of their day to day lives. She told NPR:

It immediately spoke to me, and I became overjoyed to find this person, and I have been overjoyed ever since.

After her young discovery, Smith turned to a life of poetry, and in the late '60s she threw herself into performing her work wherever she was. Smith busked and performed on the streets of Paris in 1969, and continued to perform while living in Manhattan. Her performances made her such a name on the New York art scene that she provided the spoken word soundtrack to Sandy Daley's film Robert Having His Nipple Pierced, starring her lifelong friend Robert Mapplethorpe.