Watch Patti Smith Learn from Virginia Woolf, and Hear the Solely Surviving Recording of Woolf’s Voice

Within the video above, poet, artist, Nation­al Ebook Award win­ner, and “god­moth­er of punk” Pat­ti Smith reads a selec­tion from Vir­ginia Woolf’s 1931 exper­i­males­tal nov­el The Waves, accom­pa­nied on piano and gui­tar by her daugh­ter Jesse and son Jack­son. The “learn­ing” marked the open­ing of “Land 250,” a 2008 exhi­bi­tion of Smith’s pho­tog­ra­phy and artwork­work from 1965 to 2007, on the Fon­da­tion Carti­er pour l’artwork con­tem­po­rain in Paris.

I put the phrase “learn­ing” in quotes above as a result of Smith solely reads a very quick pas­sage from Woolf’s nov­el. The remainder of the dra­mat­ic per­for­mance is Smith in her personal voice, pos­si­bly impro­vis­ing, pos­si­bly recit­ing her homage to Woolf—occasioned by the truth that the beginning of the exhi­bi­tion fell on the 67th anniver­sary of Woolf’s dying by sui­cide. Of Woolf’s dying, Smith says, “I don’t consider this as unhappy. I simply suppose that it’s the day that Vir­ginia Woolf decid­ed to say good­bye. So we’re not cel­e­brat­ing the day, we’re sim­ply acknowl­edg­ing that that is the day. If I had a title to name tonight, I might name it ‘Wave.’ We’re wav­ing to Vir­ginia.”

Smith’s selection of a title for the night is sig­nif­i­cant. She titled her 1979 album Wave, her final report earlier than she went into semi-retire­ment within the 80s. And her exhi­bi­tion includ­ed a set of beau­ti­ful pho­tographs tak­en at Woolf’s Sus­intercourse retreat, Monk’s Home. Her per­for­mance looks as if an unusu­al con­flu­ence of voic­es, however Woolf may need loved it, since a lot of her work explored the unit­ing of sep­a­charge minds, over the bar­ri­ers of house and time. Whereas Smith specific­es her indebt­ed­ness to Woolf, one received­ders what the upper-class Blooms­bury daugh­ter of a well-con­nect­ed and artis­tic fam­i­ly would have considered the work­ing-class punk-poet from the Low­er East Aspect? It’s impos­si­ble to say, in fact, however some­the way it’s match­ting that they meet by means of Woolf’s The Waves.

Woolf’s nov­el (she known as it a “play­po­em”) blends the voic­es of six char­ac­ters, however Woolf didn’t consider them as char­ac­ters in any respect, however as features of a higher, ever-shift­ing complete. As she as soon as wrote in a let­ter:

The six char­ac­ters had been sup­posed to be one. I’m get­ting outdated myself now—I shall be fifty subsequent yr; and I come to really feel increasingly more how dif­fi­cult it’s to col­lect one­self into one Vir­ginia; despite the fact that the spe­cial Vir­ginia in whose physique I dwell for the second is vio­lent­ly sus­cep­ti­ble to all kinds of sep­a­charge really feel­ings. There­fore I would like­ed to offer the sense of con­ti­nu­ity.

Spec­u­la­tion over Woolf’s males­tal well being apart, her ref­er­ences to voic­es in her let­ters, diaries, and in her elo­quent let­ter to Leonard Woolf earlier than she died, had been additionally state­ments of her craft—which embraced the interior voic­es of oth­ers, not let­ting anyone voice be dom­i­nant. I wish to suppose Woolf would have been delight­ed with the fierce­ness of Smith—in some methods, Vir­ginia Woolf antic­i­pat­ed punk, and Pat­ti Smith. In her personal voice beneath, you possibly can hear her describe the phrases of the Eng­lish lan­guage as “irreclaimable vagabonds,” who “in case you begin a Soci­ety for Pure Eng­lish, they’ll present their resent­ment by begin­ing anoth­er for impure Eng­lish…. They’re excessive­ly demo­c­ra­t­ic.”

The report­ing beneath comes from an essay pub­lished in a col­lec­tion—The Dying of the Moth and Oth­er Essays—the yr after Woolf’s dying. The discuss was known as “Crafts­man­ship,” a part of a BBC radio broad­solid from 1937, and it’s the solely sur­viv­ing report­ing of Woolf’s voice.

Word: An ear­li­er ver­sion of this publish appeared on our web site in 2013.

Relat­ed Con­tent

Pat­ti Smith on Vir­ginia Woolf’s Cane, Charles Dick­ens’ Pen & Oth­er Cher­ished Lit­er­ary Tal­is­mans

Pat­ti Smith’s Polaroids of Arti­info from Vir­ginia Woolf, Arthur Rim­baud, Rober­to Bolaño & Extra

Pat­ti Smith Reads Her Remaining Let­ter to Robert Map­plethor­pe, Name­ing Him “the Most Beau­ti­ful Work of All”

Pat­ti Smith’s 40 Favourite Books

 Josh Jones is a author, edi­tor, and musi­cian based mostly in Wash­ing­ton, DC. Fol­low him @jdmagness

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *