My Goodreads review –
The Coral Sea by Patti Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
The title piece, a long prose poem, was written in 1996 after the death of Patti Smith's dear friend, the photographer Robert Mapplethorpe. This 2012 reissue includes some other poems for him, and a preface he asked her to write for his book, Flowers.
It's the most exquisite and moving work. The use of language is extraordinary — heightened and unusual, yet at the same time clear and straightforward. A paradox!
There is nothing self-consciously writerly about it; rather she is making art, and does so by finding the perfect words to convey her friend's last journey, and something of his soul.
A slim volume, beautifully produced, it includes some of his photos and some of her own.
It's unique. It's a treasure; a work of great beauty.
I can see myself returning to it often.
She recounts that he asked her, when he was dying, to write their story. She eventually did: the acclaimed memoir, Just Kids — but it took her a long time to be able to do it. Meanwhile she wrote The Coral Sea.
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