Would you take advice from William S Burroughs? What if it were filtered through the humanistic sensibilities of Patti Smith? Addressing the crowd at last summer’s Louisiana Literature Festival at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, the punk poetess shared some good counsel laid on her in her youth by the Beat’s highest priest. Build a good name, he told her, and make sure everything you create stays true to it, until eventually that name becomes its own currency.
It certainly worked out well for her, though Smith is quick to give solace to those toiling in obscurity. It’s conceivable that one as relentlessly creative as she would occasionally feel the sting of indifference. It’s also welcome when someone in her position acknowledges how fantastic it is to have one’s work embraced by the people. (And she’s got a choice snarl for the knee jerks who equate popularity with selling out.)
An old soul from the outset, the seasoned Smith has teen spirit to spare when it comes to the democratizing possibilities of the Internet. It’s here, she predicts, that those with the mettle to keep at their creative work will find the recognition their good names deserve.
– Ayun Halliday doesn’t brush her hair much either. Follow her @AyunHalliday