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The Cup

If we be blind, if we turn from Nature, the garden of the soul, she will turn on us. In place of songbird, the shrill cry of the locust devouring the harvest, the terrible crackling of the blazing rainforest. The bushfires. The animals screaming. Peatlands smoldering, seas rising, cathedrals flooding, the Arctic shelf melting, the Siberian wood burning, the Barrier Reef bleached as the bones of forgotten saints. If we be blind, failing in our supplication, species will die, bee and butterfly driven to extinction, all of Nature nothing more
than an empty husk, the ghost
of an abandoned hive.

One year ago today Patti Smith shared a poem on social media wishing Greta Thunberg a happy birthday as the environmental activist turned 17. The final lines of Smith’s message (“who stood today, as every Friday, refusing to be neutral) are in reference to Thunberg’s weekly appearances at the ‘Fridays for Future’ protests outside the Swedish parliament.


This is
Greta Thunberg, turning
seventeen today, asking
for no accolade, no gifts,
save we not be neutral.
 The Earth knows its kind,
just as all deities, just as
animals and the healing
spring. Happy birthday
to Greta, who stood today,
as every Friday, refusing
to be neutral.

By Patti Smith, for Greta Thunberg, January 3rd 2020


                        
How to find a voice?

Patti Smith, Devotion, 2017

A work of creative brilliance may seem like magic -- its source a mystery, its impact unexpectedly stirring. How does an artist accomplish such an achievement, connecting deeply with an audience never met? In this groundbreaking book, Patti Smith offers a detailed account of her own creative process, inspirations, and unexpected connections.

Smith first presents an original and beautifully crafted tale of obsession -- a young skater who lives for her art, a possessive collector who ruthlessly seeks his prize, a relationship forged of need both craven and exalted. She then takes us on a second journey, exploring the sources of her story. We travel through the South of France to Camus's house, and visit the garden of the great publisher Gallimard where the ghosts of Mishima, Nabokov, and Genet mingle. Smith tracks down Simone Weil's grave in a lonely cemetery, hours from London, and winds through the nameless Paris streets of Patrick Modiano's novels. Whether writing in a café or a train, Smith generously opens her notebooks and lets us glimpse the alchemy of her art and craft in this arresting and original book on writing.