on May 28, 1999
when i first heard 'horses' by patti smith,i thoght it was the most sublime artwork to inwade my little pretentious arty world;i thought it was better than sex, masturbation,writing or even drinking - my whole life had been transposed. yet, in years that came, patti had found away to transcend even the beauty of the actual physical existence she so celebrated w/ her life, her art, the people she loved;the little girl of vivid dreams growing into a youg poetess,into a visionary artist, a wife, a mother - the seclusion embraced by chosing domesticy only proppeling her to mature as an artist and a person; robbert mapplethorpe had been a dear friend who helped her to find her true calling - art;his gift had been taken from us all too soon by aids. she could not weep so she wrote her sorrow : about passenger m who, terminally ill, sets on his last journey, a pilgrimage to see the southern cross;in his last days he questions his life which had been beautiful and which he adorned w/ his gift of the perfect placement of things; it had not been a perfect life however- he was unable to find a balance beetween his desire for perfection and the actual life itself; thus he was dying alone, his last wish to see his ideal the southern cross: perhaps in his mind he had failed to be what he wished, but his passing away was beautiful and he left behind his art to light the way of those treading after him, us. pattis work tells us about the inner struggle of the artist, she describes robbert as an artist (no matter what else he might have been),inducing us to believe in the power and importance of art in our life; her book is a loving elegie to her friend, her beloved compeer, her unfettered joy. leena spite.
on July 9, 2002
Patti Smith his come aways since HORSES. Or maybe not very far at all. Lurking beneath the poet/punk of the famous mapplethorp cover was a woman of profoundly mystical bent. In this, a fable and an elegy , for Robert as she writes in the dedication, Patti smith imagines a man searching for the southern cross, and a man dying. Each of the very short capters are accompanied by a mapplethorpe photograph. Profound, wrenching prose, which caused me to wince in pain and recognition, and ultimately, which delivers a coda to a life. This is amazing stuff, the kind of book that should be passed to loved ones wrapped in a ribbon of silk,, cherished as a gift. It is that good. It moved me like few books have in my life.Nothing in Patti smiths work had prepared me for the overwhelming beauty of this book. A staggering book of wonder.
on August 29, 2000
By far the most effective writing in this book is that of the introduction. Patti Smith recalls her first and last meetings with Robert Maplethorpe, whereby she somehow manages -- by drawing upon both the similarities and differences of these two experiences -- to express the anguish and tragedy of his death. If there are any doubts about Smith's poetic ability, this brief, beautiful tribute to her friend should lay them to rest. The following pages contain some of Maplethorpe's most serene work, and Smith's writing is no less inspired. Lacking the pretention of some of her earlier work, these words are lucid, honest, heartfelt, and rewarding.
on October 22, 2000
This slim volume is sprinkled with photographs primarily by Robert Mapplethorpe. They are well chosen to grace the poetic prose elegy by Patti Smith. The prose reminds me in a strange way of the writings of H.D. - the story of facing death is told in mythic terms - in terms of the sea, the search for the Hercules moth, the sighting of the Southern Cross as his uncle had promised, of Greek gods. Its strength is in the description of Mapplethrope as artist - fascinated by arranging, estranged from nature. The writing is not without flaws but it is interesting and telling.
on April 18, 2003
What a wonderful book. Patti Smith's poetry is full with an intense personal feeling. I can only echo the comments of previous reviewers; this book shines a bright and pellucid beauty, both in its poetry and in the sublime photographs. Spending an afternoon with The Coral Sea took me into a serene, meditative, dreamy state. It has that quality. Something of it reminded me of Visconti's film, Death in Venice. This is a book I shall always have.
on November 5, 1998
This gorgeous elegaic tribute to Mapplethorpe, to the enduring and transforming power of Love, is like a drop of purest gold that will work quiet alchemy in your spirit; elegant, restrained, and all the more powerful for the subtle discipline Ms Smith brings - as ever - to her heartfelt poems and meditations. We're privileged to share this healing, necessary work. Staggering and Beautiful.