‘Woolgathering’ by Patti Smith


by Patti Smith

New Directions Books

Pub. Date:   November 28, 2011

Book received from: Publisher


The Patti Smith that we so often envision is the one of intensity and power, ranting relentlessly onstage.  She is the Patti that is the embodiment of punk, and is busy serving up rebellion and telling ‘the man’ how it is.  For more hardcore fans and followers, there is also a Patti that is the intelligent Baudelaire-quoting troubadour.  She is the one that has seen so much and shares it all freely for others to learn.

In Woolgathering, we are given a look into the creation and life of this powerhouse that delivers a glimpse of fragility and reflection.  First published nearly twenty years ago, just after her 45th birthday, Woolgathering went largely unnoticed.   This remastered edition supplies extended content and photos from the early life of Patti Smith, along with a further look into the icon herself.

With intertwining stories from her childhood, those from her early twenties, and the reflection back on them, we are transported into a life that could be anyone’s.  Smith takes the magic and unawareness that it is to be a child, and draws us into a world that is almost magical, but almost tattered at the same time, managing to write about her childhood experiences without filling in the gaps of knowledge with what she has learned as an adult.  She then drifts into the mind of what it is to be in your twenties and think that the world is yours, and that every word, every decision, carries such a heavy importance with it.  Flowing easily from the unawareness of childhood, to the self-absorption of young-adulthood, to the self-reflection of later life, Woolgathering is a dreamy, yet honest autobiography.

There is a quiet intensity that pulls one through the pages of this book that cannot be fully described or credited.  Woolgathering is more a book of poetry in many ways, masquerading as a situational memoir.  It is not a linear telling of the stories inside, as one quickly realizes that time matters less the older we get.  It is more about the relation of the experiences to each other, rather than the timeline on which they may reside.  In such a slim volume, there is so much feeling, urgency, and exploration that it will be read in one sitting- and then read again and again, slower each time, as one draws out their own meanings from the stories being told.


This book can be purchased at Amazon.com, as well as your local independent bookseller.

For more about Patti Smith, go to her website here.

3 thoughts on “‘Woolgathering’ by Patti Smith

  1. This story sounds fascinating. I love poetry and the idea that time matters less as we get older. This is such a fantastic review and I am definitely curious about this book. Thanks for sharing!

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