Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Woolgathering” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


3.84  ·  Rating details ·  3,562 ratings  ·  305 reviews
A great book about becoming an artist, Woolgathering tells of a youngster finding herself as she learns the noble vocation of woolgathering, a worthy calling that seemed a good job for me. She discovers often at night, often in nature the pleasures of rescuing a fleeting thought. Deeply moving, Woolgathering calls up our own memories, as the child glimpses and gleans, piec ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published June 1st 1992 by Hanuman Books (first published 1992)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,562 ratings  ·  305 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Woolgathering
Paquita Maria Sanchez
I am not looking forward to this. Reviewing has become a compulsion of sorts, and this time it won't be fun. Let me soften the blow for myself with this preface: Patti. Oh, Patti. You are an inspirational, resplendent banshee of a human being, a punchy, lithe little poet, a galvanizing artist, and a generally kick-ass b*tch. For this reason, it is with knuckles in teeth that I make this statement: I thought your book was kinda trite. I didn't want to, really. I hope this isn't a deal-breaker, as ...more
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: people

A joyful read. Proper review will follow soon.
Jun 12, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a small beautiful book, one I would choose to own for frequent reads. Her inclusion of the Hanuman book concept is illustrative of it's predictive talismanic power. I would love to carry it around as a little "prayer" book. There is something in her words that resonates strongly, moves me, and I found the reading of this small volume completely soul quenching and calming. It is an early morning with birdsong and rain threatening which seems the perfect backdrop for a fall into her pages- ...more
Jeff Jackson
Patti's early years in prose. Some startling images - bat wings crackling in a barn fire. Some wonderful reveries that start in listless cafes and drift into souks selling blood red stones. Stories about her infant sister's sickness, her great-grandmother's imperious non-regard, her dog's mysterious death. Also some commonplaces and generalizations that dilute the poetic intensity, but overall this is a very companionable book. Handsomely designed and interspersed with photos, too. ...more
Mar 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This new edition was published in 2011. It just came to my attention when knittingtastic, a UK person working in knitting technical editing, posted book on her Instagram feed. I immediately ordered it. As a knitter and Patti Smith fan, I was intrigued. While this book is mostly poems, it also included essays. My favorite essay was her story of her dog Bambi, her constant companion when she was young. It was sad, though not tragic.
The cover "Shepherdess with Her Flock", a painting by Millet, m
Apr 13, 2016 rated it did not like it
I'm not a specialist when it comes to poetry. I use a very simplified key to evaluate it for myself - if it moves me, I like it, if it doesn't, I forget about it the moment I finish the last line. The situation with poetic prose is very similar in my case. If I catch myself formulating thoughts (subconsciously) in a way the text of the book was written, if it plays again and again in my brain - I'm enchanted. Unfortunately, this is not the case with the tiny book by Patti Smith. There are a few ...more
Mar 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is an exquisite book. It's short enough to read in an hour or two and flows between prose and verse. Some excerpts:

How wide the world is. How high. And the stuff of the mind - charged, poofs and scatters like seed and fluff. For such is the tooth of the lion. That it bares and bursts into wishes.

The Lord gives us wings
He gives us a stomach
we can fly or vomit
turn ourselves into glory
turn upon the water
draw a cup of bitters
turn ourselves inside out
and a sum of us
will flicker
just a bit o
Woolgathering contains some of the most poetic prose I've ever read. It's like a magic carpet ride through Smith's memories & impressions...a Van Gogh painted with words. If you do not have imagination , don't read it! I envy & admire the freedom with which Smith uses language . This read is magic...true poetry ...true art. ...more
Jan 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating 4,5

Why is everything Patti Smith writes so, so wonderful and dreamy?
I'm glad I still have a couple of her things to read...
She's amazing.
Andrea Paterson
Oct 03, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-biography
I couldn't get into this book. While it was about childhood it lacked wonder somehow. The poetry slipped often into the world of dreams and I wanted to be overcome there by shimmering images, but it never happened. The idea of the Woolgatherers, small people collecting tufts of wool from the brambles in the dead of night, was alluring, but the idea didn't take flight. I think its possible that another person will love this book, but sadly I did not and was a bit disappointed. ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, 2016
i couldn't believe it when i realized i haven't read this book even though i have from more than one year now. it is a compendium of shorts stories with the wool gatherers walking through and it all makes of it a delicious journey of self-exploration and auto analysis of the child she used to be -that she still is. as it is been tagged: this is a fairytale. pure beauty. a true gem. thank you patti once again ...more
Gerard Marrone
Sep 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
patti is a dreammmmmmmmm
a short, stunning collection of poetry, prose and accompanying photographs that feel ethereal
in love xx
“And the wind caught the edges of the cloth that covered my window. There I kept vigil, alert to the small, easily becoming, through an open eye, monstrous and beautiful.”

Woolgathering was my first book of the new year, and I had been saving it for that purpose, because somehow I knew it would be the perfect one to take such a place. What is poetry if not a simultaneous looking back and looking forward?

This little book is primarily a memoir of Patti Smith’s childhood, told in snippets of verse
Jaime (Twisting the Lens)
The Patti Smith that we so often envision is the one of intensity and power, ranting relentlessly onstage. She is the Patti that is the embodiment of punk, and is busy serving up rebellion and telling ‘the man’ how it is. For more hardcore fans and followers, there is also a Patti that is the intelligent Baudelaire-quoting troubadour. She is the one that has seen so much and shares it all freely for others to learn.
In Woolgathering, we are given a look into the creation and life of this powerhou
Mira | I Read Like Phoebe Runs
I imagined a lot of things. That I would shine. That I'd be good. I'd dwell bareheaded on a summit turning a wheel that would turn the earth undetected, amongst the clouds, I would have some influence; be of some avail.

I have heard all kinds of opinions about this book, but I just continue to admire Patti Smith and love on her writing so very much.
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Mostly lovely memory and fantasy yarn by Patti Smith, musician and poet. This was a Christmas gift from my daughter Rima, and a quick read at an opportune time.
Feb 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"In movement is blessing"
"How the light is dimmed by the voice of reason"
Oct 31, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Unfortunately this little book didn‘t do much for me. Reading this during a global pandemic might be a relief for some, I found myself being annoyed with a self-indulgent artist pondering her life. Some of the phrases are just plain tacky. Two stars because I did enjoy some of her childhood stories, told in a way that invokes the magic of that time, and I absolutely adored „Nineteen Fifty-Seven“.
« Navigating the feathered terrain dropping phrases like
“I've been in worse place
I've been in better
I've been around...”
And all you want is a helping hand.
To be lifted out of the mire, out of beauty.
To be lifted... »
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Lyrical prose, imagery and dreamy memories. Humanist familiar juxtaposition.. Overall a lovely read.

“We wander through life - a setting without a stone. Until one day we take a turn and there it lies on the ground before us, a drop of faceted blood, more real than a ghost, glowing. If we stir it may disappear. If we fail to act nothing will be reclaimed. There is a way in this little riddle. To utter one’s own prayer. In what manner it doesn’t matter. For when it is over that person shall posses
Nov 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Just more amazing writing from Patti Smith. She's one of my favorites and I hope to read all of her work eventually. ...more
Dominic DiCenzo
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was ok
Rather interesting....
Adam Shand
Dec 18, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirit, poetry
Another random library discovery. Initially I was mostly curious if it was in fact "that Patti Smith", and yes, it is Patti Smith of punk music fame. A really beautiful collection of poetic stories mixed with matching photographs. Mostly from her childhood but some from her travels in India and France.

She introduces the stories with: "Everything contained in this little book is true, and written just like it was. The writing of it drew me from my strange torpor and I hope that in some measure it
Colleen O'Neill Conlan
I read this little book in one sitting, on my ferry commute to work. I like this because it was written when she was living in Detroit with her husband and children, a retreat from public life and public work, but certainly not from her art (visual, poetic, musical, and otherwise). Yes, it's different from her music/lyric compositions, and it's different from the more straightforward-but still magical-memoir she wrote of her early artistic life with Robert Mapplethorpe, Just Kids. This one has m ...more
Dec 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's difficult for me to talk/write about this book. Honestly, reading it was one of the most devastating, moving experiences of my life. The language is soul-stirring, unique, and insightful. Smith writes as though all of her experiences are fairy tales, or dreams, but she assures the reader it's all true, and that events were recorded "just like it was." It leaves the reader to wonder if Smith really thinks the world functions as she describes it, with so much effortless movement and color.

Jul 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Smith remembers her childhood and her childhood fantasies in New Jersey. One of those fantasies were of the people she could hear, but never see in an empty field she passed on long leisurely walks with her brother and sister. She thought of them as “the woolgatherers.”

I believed they were there, the people. I could hear them, now and then, murmuring and whistling as if behind a wall of cotton. I could hear them, but I could never make out the language they were speaking nor the melodies they
M. Sarki
Nov 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Patti Smith is a talent beyond measure. Woolgathering is obviously an early work but it is evident that she could write, that she certainly possessed rhythm, and she was seriously engaged in life and all it had to offer her. There are some chapters miles above others in their quality, but the book as a whole did read as a prose poem and I found it more personal than artistic. Deserving of only three stars in respect to literary technique, I instead gave this book the instructive four because "I ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed this. It's compact, it's dreamy, it's sketchy (just as one would expect memories of childhood to be) and yet Smith managed to imbue the whole book with a poetic quality which is entirely her own. Innocent, almost naive reminiscences about childhood alternate with dreamlike excursions into the mind space of a young girl striving to find something more in life. Dripping with emotion. ...more
Christina M.
Jul 19, 2012 rated it it was amazing
captivating.... beautifully written, personal

She definitely has the soul of an artist... comes thru in her ability to spin her visions into visible gossamer. just a lovely, lovely book... feel very inspired reading her....

my heart always feel very full anytime I read anything she shares.
Jaclyn Harrison
I admit that I did not finish this book and it was only 80 pages long. Patti Smith is one of my favorite song writers and this book is classic Patti Smith. I, however, apparently only appreciate her prose in song form because this book was completely lost on me. If you like poetry and prose, you'll get along fine with this book. I will just stick with her music. ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Frausein
  • The One Inside
  • Japanese Ghost Stories
  • Throat
  • Une année studieuse
  • 30 dager i april 2020
  • Motel Chronicles
  • Ellen T.
  • POPism: The Warhol Sixties
  • The Monkey's Mask
  • Un apartamento en Urano
  • Til de voksne
  • Fra Shakespeare til Knausgård
  • Aus dem Dachsbau
  • Yakın
  • Er mor død
  • La luz negra
  • L'Herbe des nuits
See similar books…
PATTI SMITH is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released twelve albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by Rolling Stone.

Smith had her first exhibit of drawings at the Gotham Book Mart in 1973 and has been represented by the Robert Miller Ga

Related Articles

Punk rock legend, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, award-winning writer, photographer, activist, and all-around Renaissance woman Patti Smith is...
185 likes · 24 comments
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“The mind of a child is like a kiss on the forehead — open and disinterested” 8 likes
“I imagined a lot of things. That I would shine. That I'd be good. I'd dwell bareheaded on a summit turning a wheel that would turn the earth undetected, amongst the clouds, I would have some influence; be of some avail.” 8 likes
More quotes…