November 18th, 2010 | Uncategorized

WEEKEND | Patti Smith, Yale visitor, wins National Book Award

Patti Smith, singer, poet, “Godmother of Punk” can now add “prize-winning author” to her repertoire. She won the National Book Award yesterday for her memoire “Just Kids,” published by Ecco.

“I used to wonder what it would feel like,” the usually tough-as-nails Smith said, tearfully, referring to her unexpected win, according to the Los Angeles Times. “Thank you for letting me find out.”

“Just Kids” is a vivid account of the artistic and political climate of the ’70s. The book chronicles Smith’s intimate and mercurial relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe, a controversial American photographer whose work is known for its strong overtones of erotic homosexuality. In the book, Smith refers to him as “the artist of my life.”

“I relied on our shared memories and my personal archive — I ran it over and over until I could see us and hear us speak,” Smith said when asked about her writing process in an interview with the National Book Foundation.

Smith was on campus on Nov 4, and performed a reading of her autobiographical work at the Whitney Humanities Center following a screening of the documentary “Patti Smith: Dream of Life.”