9 Patti Smith Lives in Rockaway Beach and Wrote About It

Patti Smith is arguably one of New York City’s most iconic writers. She has maintained a prominent presence around the city since the 1960s, first as a punk-rocker-poet and more recently as a memoirist. Her novel, “M Train,” provides a series of vignettes that illustrate a small window into her life. It follows her wanderings through cafes and subway stations, and chronicles her exploration of memory and its influence on the current moment. In the book, Smith spends a significant amount of time describing how she fell in love with the Rockaways, first visiting a friend who was opening a coffee shop on the boardwalk, then finding an old house that she knew she wanted to buy on the spot.

Much of the book ruminates on the act of writing about emptiness, of pulling disparate visions into a single narrative. Her journey to the Rockaways, away from the tightly wound inner world of Manhattan, is perhaps emblematic of the way she learns to live with this emptiness, finding poetry in forgotten coffee cups and finding home on a boardwalk way out near the sea.