Devotion by Patti Smith


From the renowned artist and author Patti Smith, an inspired exploration of the nature of creative invention A work of creative brilliance may seem like magic—its source a mystery, its impact unexpectedly stirring. How does an artist accomplish such an achievement, connecting deeply with an audience never met? In this groundbreaking book, one of our culture’s beloved artists offers a detailed account of her own creative process, inspirations,...

Details Devotion

Release DateSep 12th, 2017
PublisherYale University Press
GenreNonfiction, Language, Writing, Autobiography, Memoir, Essays

Reviews Devotion

  • Janet
    A worthwhile addition to the Patti Smith library. "Devotion" beautifully describes Patti Smith's attitude toward the creative life, as anyone who has read M Train or Just Kids can attest. This tiny volume is divided into three parts. The first, "How the Mind Works" is not analytical but illustrative. It starts, "Somehow, in search of something else, I stumbled upon..." A film about Estonians deported to Siberian collective farms in 1941. Images ...
  • Chris
    While at the Harvard Book Store last week, I decided to console myself with the fact I couldn't make yet another trip in two weeks' time back to the city to see Patti Smith live, by purchasing her new book. I adore her, but in this case, I should have purchased a remainder hard cover copy of my beloved "M Train" instead of her newest. I was looking for this to be "M Train 2.0," but instead got an odd little 100-page book divided in three parts. P...
  • Constance
    Devotion is delivered to the reader in a bouquet of immortelle with a sword hidden in the middle.I've said it before and will continue to reiterate, Ms Smith's books are to be read slowly, methodically or you will miss the magic.I was ecstatic when Devotion finally arrived. I skipped through my home holding it dear to my heart.Later I read a few pages, and slept with it beside me. The connection of her work is that potent; having the book close w...
  • Sian Lile-Pastore
    It IS a bit slight... But still lovely. It's a three parter - starts non-fiction about travelling to France, which I really enjoyed, then there's a short story about an ice skater which was just ok for me, and then a short non-fiction piece at the end about going to Camus' house. Some lovely parts in the non-fiction - coffee, books, bowls of berries etc etc and the short story wasn't awful by any means, but wasn't really expecting it.
  • Freesiab (Bookish Review)
    It was so beautiful, delicate, passionate and lovely. It's more of a novella, so it's quite easy to finish in a day. Does she ever write a book that's not perfect? Maybe she'd adopt me?
  • Offbalance
    While I often say that my love of Patti Smith's writing is massive and boundless, I may now have to qualify that to say that my love of Patti Smith's nonfiction is boundless. I could stand on street corners and harangue complete strangers into reading her absolutely perfect memoir Just Kids. It's a book so beautiful that it made me cry on the subway before 8am on a weekday. (Usually if I tear up under those circumstances, it has to do with a foul...
  • Mary
    A beautiful, yet slight book, written by one of my favorite artist on the planet. I should have read this in an hour, but hummingbirds & bees interrupted my reading on my porch, & Turner Classic Movies took over my night. Completely different than "Just Kids" & "M Train" but no less beautiful.
  • Lauren Matthews-Nicholls
    Haunting. The essays and story. Breathtaking musings on writing, loneliness and discovery
  • tortoise dreams
    An expanded version of Patti Smith's 2016 Windham-Campbell lecture, part of the Why I Write series.Book Review: Devotion is a book written by an artist. Patti Smith exists as an artist. A musician, poet, photographer, memoirist, reviewer, Patti Smith is all of those, none of those, more than those; she's an artist. All is art to her, and as such, she is both more and less known than she might be. Devotion is made in three parts, but more than thr...
  • Terzah
    Part of a series called "Why I Write," this quick read from Smith features a novella she wrote sandwiched between a chapter describing the circumstances surrounding the novella's creation and another chapter ruminating on inspiration in general. It was an enjoyable window into her creative process.My favorite passage came at the end: "What is the task? To compose a work that communicates on several levels, as in a parable, devoid of the stain of ...
  • Sarah Koppelkam
    I love you Patti. As always, Patti's voice is unmistakable. Her love for black coffee, for visiting the graves of her muses, for simplicity and for obsession (devotion?): it's all here. As Smith says herself in the third section of this slim text ("A Dream is Not a Dream") it is a rare thing to be able to track all of the influences, images, and fascinations that make up a piece of art. But Smith does it here. In the first section, "How the Mind ...
  • CaitlynK
    "Why do we write? A chorus erupts.Because we cannot simply live."I liked the background the first section gives us in terms of the circumstances under which the second section (the short story) came about. And the story itself is like a condensed, more compelling version of a segment in Fates and Furies.But still - eh. While enjoyable, I didn't feel like a lot of new ground was covered. That said, it's a quick read, and I did quite enjoy the last...
  • Emily Frank
    Short but beautiful.
  • Silvia
    I liked Just Kids and I wanted to like this little book. I love her intro to Paris but I feel she tried too much too seem literary, and artistic and alternative.
  • Monica
    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Anything else I have to say about reading this, I have to write by hand.
  • Debra Hale-Shelton
    I am fascinated by Patti Smith’s talents and intellect. I loved this small, quiet, even tender book. I hope to reread it later. Mostly I want to meet Smith.
  • Kurt
    Three-and-a-half stars. I wanted to give it 4, I really did. I mean, come on, this is Patti Smith, how could I not? The skater story, though, parable or whatever, which took up too much space in an all-too-slim 93 page essay, felt a little too precious, for my taste. Writing in the third person, as she did for the figure skater chapters, is also not Patti Smith's strong suit. Devotion, in other words, is no M Train or Just Kids.
  • Ian Brydon
    Reading this book was a strange experience for me. Patti Smith is an iconic figure for my generation – punk, poet, priestess, hierophant – and her early albums (particularly Horses) rank among the all-time greats. Her performances ripple with a unique blend of eloquence and barely-suppressed rage, and her long and successful career has been founded on her talents as a wordsmith.This short book seems a million miles away from Patti Smith’s r...
  • Soeria Van den wijngaard
    really sensible book that - for me - is about showing how artistic research is a huge part of your life (as an artist)
  • David Ward
    Rather slight and I have to say a bit undercooked. Two short chapters of Smith's experiential wanderings (Paris, Simone Weil etc) frame a short story about a girl genius skater and an older man. The prose and terms of their relationship are very mannered. The man takes the girl away from her life which is the moment of skating; he is a collector and he collects her. Freed, she returns to her pond and skates. A moral I guess. The final short chapt...
  • Vivian Valvano
    Exquisite. Quiet and meditative, introspective and original. A beautiful little book that speaks volumes. Part of it is like taking a nostalgic trip to Paris. Part of it reveals more of Patti's love and homage for specific artists. Part of it offers one of the most superb explanations I have ever read for why artists create art.
  • Ally
    In DEVOTION, Patti Smith invites readers to peek behind the curtain of her creative process. The short work is made up of three parts - "How the Mind Works", "Devotion", and "A Dream is Not a Dream" and together they form the culmination of a creative writing project from inspiration to writing, to the finished project and beyond. It's a fascinating look at how art and life intermingle and mutually influence each other. In "How the Mind Works", S...
  • Keight
    Compared to Just Kids or M Train, this little book feels so slight and incomplete. But as a small continuation of the themes of creation and artistic drive, it's a pleasure. Devotion is an expansion of a talk she gave at the 2016 Windham-Campbell Lectures, published as part of the Why I Write series. Read more on my booklog
  • Patty
    Patti is traveling to Paris to give a talk to journalists about writing. She can not really figure out why they want her to give this talk. She feels she does not measure up and anyway how can she tell journalists how to write. I listened to an interview done recently with her in which she tells us that even as a young girl she has always journaled and carries her notebook everywhere....and often a camera too! As she is traveling, she is also thi...
  • Dave
    "Yes, Philadelphia, a hotbed of freedom, she said, pulling the trigger."Sometime you read a book so good you just have to shout it. This is really just a short story - Devotion - with an essay about the events the author encounter as she wrote it and another essay about why write she writes at all. All the triggers she encounters show up in her story. It's a bit like going behind the Wizard's curtain. It still works.The triggers - the Estonian re...
  • Tony Nielsen
    Although Patti Smith's books tend to the lean side in terms of pages, they stand out for the quality of her insights and the emotional quality that they deliver. As with JUST KIDS and M TRAIN, this new epistle from Patti Smith is a joy to read.In DEVOTION the actual fiction story is book ended by Patti Smith's wry and personal observations of her travels, and especially her preoccupation with things of a literature bent. The tale that she present...
  • Anji
    Devotion: I can think of no one better qualified to write a book thus entitled than a woman who talks about her long departed husband the way Patti still talks about Fred after all these years. And yet, it is not about Fred. It's a short collection of essays, poems, and photographs framing the short story "Devotion" that are as beautiful and poetic as you would expect. It feels very much like reading Patti Smith's journal, only polished and curat...
  • Zulfiya
    I think I am not gaga about Patti Smith. I found the first part more nuanced and more in-depth than other two parts, but mostly they are all disjointed and scattered and much literary ado/ schmuck about nothing. The book was supposed to be about literary and creative inspirations, and three loosely connected parts were supposed to be linked together with gossamer-like threads ... No, not in this book. Let me tell what is the best concise, alive, ...
  • Robert Muller
    I finished this book in one sitting, I found it enthralling. Existentialist, poetic, reflective, deeply humanist are concepts I think describe this book. I personally found the story Devotion wonderful and compelling, though dark, very Camus. I think having a basic understanding of Simone Weil and her philosophy would add a lot of understanding to the story and the memoirs that accompany it (I don't know anything but what I read in Wikipedia, but...
  • Lynn Bradshaw
    This is a very slim book by Patti Smith. It is slim in terms of physical size, content and ideas. Compared to M Train it is a slight book which does not deliver much and, as such, is a disappointing read.Patti writes well but there is no real substance to this book. I was expecting an insight into the writing process of a rather eccentric poet, singer, activist. What I learnt was very little - Patti writes on napkins which her assistant transcrib...