BABEL by Patti Smith


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. . . a poem,"" writes pop-rock star Patti Smith, ""is a collection of words and mixed grill."" ""Struggling and filled with dread,"" she turns out an aptly titled mix of prose-poems, pseudo-Oriental fables, and ditties--despite her fear that ""i'll never squeeze enough graphite from my damaged cranium to inspire or asphyxiate any eyes grazing like hungry cows across the stage or page."" Helping enormously with the squeezing are all those modern muses: grass, hash, coke, morphine, and a chaser of Calvados. They inspire opaque, largely unreadable, sado-masochistic ruminations on sex and violence interspersed with curious tributes to Rimbaud (""the syphllis oozes""), ""jeanne darc"" (""feel like fucking""), and Georgia O'Keeffe (""no bull shit""). People and things are laid out, strapped in, impaled, crucified, cut, raped, etc., unless of course they are the ones laying out, strapping in, impaling, and so forth. The whole book squishes with oil, grease, worms, mire, and a vast assortment of body fluids; and were it not for shitting and fucking, it would be a lot shorter. Smith, however, seems to agree with a character in one of her fables: ""i can never rest and repetition makes me nauseous:"" Yes, indeed.

Pub Date: Feb. 2nd, 1977
Publisher: Putnam