Culture / People

All I want for my birthday this year is a poem written to me by Patti Smith

Patti Smith Greta Thunberg

The humble 2021 crossover we didn't know we needed, Patti Smith has once again displayed her admiration for Greta Thunberg, dedicating her most recent poem to the climate activist in commemoration of her 18th birthday. A union between two of our personal heroes, we very much love to see it.

Smith recited the piece, which she has named The Cup, on video to Thunberg, sharing that she wrote the poem "with great urgency," which she likened to the approach the activist has taken towards her climate change campaign. “Her message for us all, a message we must all embrace, is one of action, of a school girl who stepped out on her own, and appealed to us all to save our earth together," the punk icon shared.

One of the most powerful lines from the piece reads, “If we be blind, if we turn away from nature, the garden of the soul, she will turn on us," then bringing attention to a number of critical climate disasters, including rainforest and peatland fires, rising sea levels, melting ice caps, and the bleaching of the Great Barrier Reef.

Listen to the poem screened live on the Piccadilly Lights screen below.


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Concluding the moving poem, Smith reminds us of a very harsh reality, "Species are dying." She continues, drawing attention to the likelihood of extinction faced by two of our ecosystems most vital players – the bee and the butterfly. “All of nature nothing more than an empty husk, the unholy ghost of an abandoned hive.”

This isn't the first piece Patti Smith has written for Greta Thunberg. Last year the musician and artist also composed a piece especially for the activist's birthday; the opening lines reading, “This is / Greta Thunberg, turning / seventeen today, asking / for no accolate, no gifts, / save we not be neutral.”

Smith's latest work was created as part of her month-long residency with digital art platform Circa; who launched its first exhibition on London's Piccadilly Circus electronic billboard last year. With plans to commission a new artist each month, Smith took centre stage this January – the platform exploring the impact of her artistry over the last 50 years and sharing with audiences rarely seen selections of her work.

Thunberg celebrated her 18th birthday this past Sunday. Staying true to her characteristically sarcastic tweeting style, she posted, “Tonight you will find me down at the local pub exposing all the dark secrets behind the climate, and school strike conspiracy, and my evil handlers who can no longer control me,” she joked in response to the conservative belief she has been manipulated by her parents.

Single-handedly inspiring climate activism with two Patti Smith poems under her belt. There's truly nothing more we would have wanted for our 18th birthday.

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