“Just Kids” for me, is a staggering ode by Patti Smith, just as she promised to Robert, to the people and places that has transformed us. Here we see Patti, a young, poor poet and having become pregnant at 19, giving up her baby for adoption and setting off to New York for a fresh start. She had nothing in her wallet, but she had the names of poets that fueled her passion for words and the arts as a whole. From Blake, Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Genet, New York provided the background for her rise to fame.
But right from the beginning, there was Robert.
In 1967, Patti met Robert Mapplethorpe, who shared her interests and they ended up sharing a space in Brooklyn together. Making their way through the days by sharing everything. Patti ended up working at a bookshop and Robert landing odd jobs in between. They shared warmth, art supplies, hotdogs and one museum ticket where one would describe to the other when they are finished. It was all such a pleasure to read and I marvelled at the aura of romanticism that surrounds them with the backdrop of New York in the 60’s and 70’s. There was one scene I remembered where they were out and about, brimming with their own personal and distinct sense of style. And elderly couple took notice of their presence and pondered (as overheard by Patti) whether they should take a photo. The woman immediately thought of them as artists but her husband dismissed her saying, “They’re just kids,”
Now, “Just Kids” is also a story about how they rose to grasp their dreams, “separate ways, together,”. Nevertheless, through all their experiences, the artistic vision that they shared was their bond and Patti, will always consider him “the artist of my life,”.
I’m not going to blabber about what happened in the book but I have to say it was a really enriching read both story-wise and writing-wise as well. Patti is very observant and she inspired me to turn simple everyday sightings into little stories. And perhaps, I might actually start filling in the pages of what seems like my endless amount of unused notebooks!