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Miami Book Fair: Love, loss and 'Devotion' with Patti Smith

Miami Book Fair: Love, loss and 'Devotion' with Patti Smith

At the Nobel Prize ceremony last December in Sweden, punk-rock icon and author Patti Smith climbed onstage, nerves shattered, and sang the opening verse of Bob Dylan’s protest epic “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall.” On the second verse, Smith stumbled, her voice trembling, her face reddening, and she said, managing a broad smile, “I’m sorry. I’m so nervous.”

Smith was there to perform and accept the Nobel Prize for Literature on behalf of Dylan, her songwriting peer and longtime idol, who notoriously declined to accept the award himself. Speaking from a Cleveland hotel midway through her book tour, Smith recalls how the grandness of the moment paralyzed her ability to cover a classic....