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Patti Smith's The Coral Sea is a small book-length poem published in 1997 by Norton; it is a sustained, very personal meditation, a tribute to and elegy for the late photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. A Mapplethorpe photograph appears on Smith's debut album, Horses, and Smith was Mapplethorpe's first model — he photographed her literally thousands of times. He passed away from complications due to AIDS seven years before The Coral Sea appeared; the book refers to him as "Passenger M," an artist and a man on a sailing journey to see the Southern Cross before his ascent out of this world. Through images, personal memories, and allusions to his life and work, his relationship with Sam Wagstaff, and his suffering through the terminal illness, the work is Smith's poetic masterpiece. It stands out from the rest of her published work as a written hymn, an ode, a deeply moving contemplation where language, space, and imagery are open, pregnant with meaning and grief, celebration and brokenness.

This double-CD set is a live recording of Smith reading the The Coral Sea in collaboration with Kevin Shields of My Bloody Valentine; he accompanies her on electric guitar and effects. It is compiled from two separate sold-out performances at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London in June of 2005 and September of 2006. It is released on their own PASK imprint. The pair did not rehearse together before the performance. For those who are familiar with Shields' work with MBV, he appears here utterly separate from that identity. He offers mostly sonic textures and colors that allow Smith to find her way through what she says was impossible to get through before. His accompaniment underscores and illuminates her language, which is alternately tender, feverish, surreal, intimate, loving, passionate, and deeply sorrowful. Shields offers large places of safety for Smith to read through this poem, shielding her spirit while encouraging her to move deeper into the poem. The effect is intense and adventurous, read at white heat, possessed by light and the portrait of an artist in transition — not Smith, but Mapplethorpe — from the realm of the flesh to the blinding light of pure spirit, no longer contained by long-suffering flesh. The Coral Sea is for true fans of Smith, to be sure. That said, it is also for those who enjoy "performance poetry," though this feels so spontaneous that it transcends that term readily and completely. Above all, it is for those who still find truth, beauty, and vision in poetry itself; because this is the single item in Smith's catalog putting that forth with such power and authority, it restores one's faith in poetry being able to convey that which cannot be conversed about or written in prose. Poetry and music are so closely aligned anyway that at their best, they become one. This is a stunning, awe-inspiring, love-soaked example.


Né(e) : 30 décembre 1946 à Chicago, IL

Genre : Rock

Années d’activité : '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Icône du punk rock, Patti Smith est l'une des chanteuses de rock les plus influentes de tous les temps. Non conventionnelle et provocatrice, la musique de Patti Smith est considérée comme la meilleure fusion du rock et de la poésie depuis l'âge d'or de Bob Dylan. Si cet hybride n'a pas connu de succès commercial pendant la plus grande partie de sa carrière, son but n'était pas de la rendre inaccessible. C'est simplement parce que Patti Smith a toujours suivi sa propre muse, où qu'elle aille : des...
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