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Books & Poetry

Journey through the mind of Patti Smith

Books & Poetry

Singer and writer Patti Smith’s M Train, described as a roadmap to her life, offers elegant musings on loss and survival.

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“I’m going to remember everything and then I’m going to write it all down. An aria to a coat. A requiem for a café.”                                                                                                  – Patti Smith

M Train is exactly that – a poetic roadmap of a well-travelled life. A solitary journey through the landscape of the mind of singer, writer and visual artist Patti Smith.

Picture Smith sitting in coffee shops writing in her journal. Writing about cafés, coffee, family, memory, melancholy, cats, aspirations, books, writing, and artistic creation. She writes of her dreams – of cowpokes and deserts, conversations and longings; thought trains pulling recollection and reflection together.

Fourteen stations of memoir are interspersed with her signature black and white Polaroids – images that play with the shadows from whence they came.


M Train, by Patti Smith, published by Bloomsbury, $32.99.

Smith shares her travels and pre-occupations: Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; the meeting of an Artic explorers’ society in Berlin; the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud and Mishima. Readers gain an insight into her fascination with television crime shows and a run-down bungalow she ends up buying in Rockaway Beach, Queens.

Unlike 2010’s Just Kids, Smith’s award-winning linear memoir which centred on her early years in New York in the late 1960s and ’70s and her friendship with Robert Mapplethorpe, this volume has a wandering quality. It meanders, free-associatively, from subject to subject.

Smith’s elegant musing on loss and survival should be savoured like a bottomless cup of java – it will linger on the tastebuds long after the last page has been turned.

“Replenish your marrow. Have your pockets ready. Wait for the slow burn.”

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