Patti Smith revels in her "own space" offstage

Rock star Patti Smith burst on the scene as a punk provocateur in the seventies, putting poetry to music.

Next month marks 40 years since Patti Smith released her debut album, "Horses," and "Because the Night,"written by Bruce Springsteen, was a chart hit.

Now 68, she still performs, but many of her fans know her more for her books than her albums.

Her last book, "Just Kids," became a surprise best seller, winning the National Book Award.

"When we do our concerts now, you know, it used to be the kids would bring your album, then they brought your CD. And now I'm looking and the front row kids, they all like have books," said Smith.

If "Just Kids" was an elegy to her Bohemian New York youth with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, her new book "M Train" is in part a love letter to her late husband, Fred Sonic Smith, guitarist with the band MC5.

Smith writes in the book, "Looking back long after his death, our way of living seems a miracle, one that could only be achieved by the silent synchronization of the jewels and gems of a common mind."

Smith left behind her music career in 1979 and moved to St. Clair Shores, Michigan with her husband where they bought an "unseaworthy" Chris-Craft that they kept moored on their front lawn. She and her husband would sit in the boat just to listen to baseball games.

"Like we'd say, 'Oh, let's go on the boat,'" she said. "It was great. I mean I don't like goin' on the water anyway. I don't know how to swim and I get seasick. So I was just as glad it didn't - that it stayed in the yard."

They had been married 14 years when Fred Smith died of heart failure in the fall of 1994.

After Fred's death, Patti began taking Polaroids in her travels of personal talismans. Many are in the book - Virginia Woolf's walking stick, Tolstoy's bear and Herman Hesse's typewriter.

"I'm sort of restless, nomadic," Smith said. "And I've found it hard to keep still. But I'm also moving into a new phase where I'm looking to have someplace I can keep still."

A bungalow one block from the water in Rockaway Beach, Queens may just be that place.

She stumbled on it visiting a friend one day a few years ago.

"I never expected - I just came here to get a cup of coffee and I was up getting the house," she said.

Just weeks after she bought it, Superstorm Sandy ripped most of Rockaway to pieces, but her 1914 bungalow made it through.

Smith wrote most of "M Train" in her favorite café that has since closed down. But she brought a piece of into her home.

"I asked [the owner] what he was gonna do with the table and chairs. I was just so like senti - I felt like it was mine," she said.

Smith said she wanted to make her home -- borrowing from the words of Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own."

"And it would be a place where I would write, a place that was mine," she said. "I don't want to seem like I was unhappy. I've loved my life. I love sharing places with my children and husband and friends. But it's wonderful to have my own space."