February 2017 | Rebecca Rego Barry

Patti Smith's Blake

In our current issue, arts journalist Gabrielle Selz visits John Windle's new William Blake Gallery in San Francisco (a preview just in time for this year's Rare Book Week West). This new exhibition space, just down the hall from Windle's rare book shop, is "devoted to the artwork of the radical, visionary printmaker...William Blake (1757-1827)." In addition to the new gallery, Selz noted a "resurgence in Blake's popularity in contemporary culture," citing, for example, a  2016 car commercial in which Kit Harington (Game of Thrones) recites Blake's "The Tyger."

9781101973141.jpgBut here's something we missed: Vintage Classics released a new edition of Blake's Poems in December, selected and introduced by musician and memoirist Patti Smith, who once wrote a song titled "My Blakean Year." In the book's introduction, she recalls a transformative experience when her mother first presented her with a 1927 edition of the poet's Songs of Innocence, having found it at a church bazaar. This is not the first time that Smith has been involved in a Blake collection--she refers to him as "the spiritual ancestor of generations of poets"--but this reprint certainly signals renewed appreciation.

Image Courtesy of Penguin Random House.

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