At Home: Reading – Patti Smith, “Devotion”

This month we are exploring the theme of Landscapes during our Art for Baby online session and more importantly, this month is Women’s History Month. To combine these two wonderful themes into this reading section of the blog, our Learning Assistant, Sarah, is recommending the book ‘Devotion’ by Patti Smith.

What I love about Patti Smith is her way of making me feel like I’m her friend. To make me, the reader, feel like I am part of her life. I can taste the food she’s eating, can smell the scent of her many black coffees and I can hear her boots on the pavement as she walks.

If there is a trick to reading Patti Smith’s writing, it would be to take – your – time. To try and really savour the atmosphere and the words, otherwise one can easily miss its magic.

Devotion is a small book divided in three sections: “How the Mind Works,” “Devotion,” and “A Dream is not a Dream.” A real journey through her inspirations while travelling to places in the form of creative writing, fictions, poems, and photographs.

Devotion by Patti Smith
Illustration from “Devotion”, by Patti Smith

Here is one of the many beautiful scenery descriptions in Devotion:

‘Unwittingly she led him down a stony path to thick grove obscuring a large pond perfectly round and completely frozen. Between incisions of lights cutting through the dense pine, he observed as she brushed the snow from the low, flat boulder then sat gazing toward the glistening pond. Clouds moved overhead, masking then exposing the sun, and momentarily the scene surreally solarized […] There was a wet chill in the air. The sky deepened, casting blue light on the pond. She opened her eyes wide, catching the blur of pines in the distance, the bruised sky. She skated for those trees, that sky.’ 

GoMA also worked with Patti Smith on an offsite exhibition of her drawings and photographs at The Mitchell Library for Glasgow International in 2006 and as we celebrate our 25th anniversary this seemed a lovely link back to that time working with her on the show.

Leave a Reply