A small New Jersey bookshop got a visit from punk poet laureate Patti Smith over the weekend.
Smith on Sunday afternoon stopped by Haddonfield’s Inkwood Books in what owner Julie Beddingfield called a “chance encounter” after Smith saw a copy of her own new book, Year of the Monkey, in the shop’s window.
Smith, who grew up in Germantown and South Jersey, was back in the area for an appearance Monday night at the Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and stopped in Haddonfield to visit family.
“To my knowledge, that’s the first time a really well-known person walked in,” Beddingfield said. “That does not happen in Haddonfield.”
Inkwood bookseller Amy Rebecca Tan said the punk icon and author had never seen one of her books in a bookshop window and went in with her sister to thank the staff and chat. Smith, 72, also signed the store’s three remaining copies of Year of the Monkey, which have since been sold.
“I gushed like an idiot,” Tan said of Smith’s visit. “She was so sweet, and I was a mess the whole rest of the day. I literally cried after she left. I couldn’t believe it.”
While Tan was on hand for Smith’s visit, Beddingfield missed the rocker by about 25 minutes. Luckily, Tan grabbed a photo with Smith to prove the visit really happened and shared it on Facebook. The post, Beddingfield said, is the “closest thing to viral” that Inkwood has ever had online.
“If I didn’t take that photo, no one would believe me,” Tan said. “I have photo evidence — and I don’t know Photoshop or anything, so it’s legit.”
Released last month, Year of the Monkey is Smith’s latest memoir and follows her life in 2016 — a year that Smith, who was preparing to enter her 70s, spent traveling alone. As NPR wrote in a review, the book serves as “part travel journal, part reflexive essay on our times, and part meditation on existence at the edge of a new decade of life.”
Smith will discuss her book Monday in a talk at the Annenberg Center. Tickets are no longer for sale online, but some will be available at the will call table 45 minutes prior to the 7:30 p.m. start, a posting from the Free Library of Philadelphia indicates.