2008 is shaping up to be a banner year for Patti Smith. Not that she needs banners, parades, or the like, of course. But just in the first six months she’s already been the subject of three books, one about her first album (33 1/3’s Horses, by Philip Shaw), one a career overview/analysis (Praeger’s The Words and Music of Patti Smith, by Joe Tarr), and one a paperback edition of her Auguries of Innocence poetry book (Ecco Press). There are two more volumes due this year as well: Land 250, a collection of her photography being published to commemorate a Smith exhibition which ran March 28 – June 22 at the Fondation Cartier Pour L’Art Contemporain in Paris; and Patti Smith: Dream of Life, a photography book by filmmaker Steven Sebring intended to serve as a companion piece to his documentary of the same name. Sebring’s film was recently featured at the Philadelphia and Sundance Film Festivals (it won an award for cinematography at the latter) and will premiere at New York City’s Film Forum. The first officially sanctioned Smith documentary, it’s scheduled to run from August 6 to August 19, and it clearly marks a cinematic arrival of sorts for Smith — not that she needs an arrival, introduction or the like, of course. (BLURT readers can get a taste of it by viewing the trailer in our Video Section) Perhaps even more significant is the fact that on May 16, Smith was honored by Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ, granting her an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in recognition of her success in the fields of music, literature and art.
Meanwhile, there’s this new double-CD, a collaboration between Smith and My Bloody Valentine’s Kevin Shields. It’s the latest entry in Smith’s ever-expanding CV, although it probably won’t provoke fan excitement along the levels of, say, Horses or the Sebring film. Indeed, there’s a nagging sense listening to The Coral Sea (PASK) that it should be … well, better. The knot of anticipation collaboration like this evokes is really almost ridiculous. Smith. Shields. A poetic homage to Robert Mapplethorpe. Two separate, hour-long performances. This, this meeting between the great 20th century punk poetess and the deified master of postpunk guitar atmospherics, it should transport me, yes?