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Patti Smith | Punk Rock Legend and Author of Just Kids, winner of The National Book Award | Author of Year of the Monkey
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

Named one of the most influential people in the world in TIME Magazine’s TIME 100, Patti Smith is a poet, singer, songwriter, photographer, and fine artist. A seminal American artist, Smith has produced a body of work whose influence branches out through generations, across disciplines, and around the world. 

Born in Chicago and raised in South Jersey, and emerging in the nascent cultural hotbed of mid-70s New York City, Patti Smith forged a reputation as one of the decade’s first visionary artists—merging poetry and rock in vital new ways. Her 1975 debut album, Horses, is routinely ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time. In 2007, she was inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. In 2010, she won the National Book Award for Non-Fiction for Just Kids, a bestselling memoir about her early days in New York when she met, and made art with, her friend Robert Mapplethorpe. Just Kids is currently being developed into a TV series for Showtime, with Smith co-writing and producing the show. Her next memoir was M Train: a globe-spanning, exquisite remembrance of places, people, and art—the works and experiences that most informed her singular life. Her latest release is Devotion, described as “an inspired exploration of the nature of creative invention.” More recently, Smith published Year of the Monkey: a profound, beautifully realized memoir in which dreams and reality are vividly woven into a tapestry of one transformative year in her life.


Smith and her band have released 8 studio albums on Arista Records from 1975-2002, including Horses, Radio Ethiopia, Easter, Wave, Dream of Life, Gone Again, Peace and Noise, and Gung Ho. In 2004, on Columbia, she released Trampin’, a critically acclaimed album whose varied subject matter includes motherhood and the preemptive strike on Iraq. Her 2007 release, Twelve, a collection of cover songs, was hailed by many as the best of the year. In 2011, Patti Smith was listed amongst the TIME 100 most influential people in the world, as well as one of Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Artists. 


Smith is also the author of Witt, Babel, Coral Sea, Woolgathering, and Auguries of Innocence. As a fine artist, Smith has exhibited at galleries and museums worldwide. Represented by the Robert Miller Gallery in New York since 1978, her exhibitions include Strange Messenger, Land 250, and Camera Solo. Steven Sebring’s 2008 documentary about Smith, dream of life: the movie, was acknowledged internationally and received an Emmy nomination.

Smith is the recipient of the 2020 PEN America Literary Service Award, honoring her prolific career and unflinching determination to speak truth and protest injustice. . She was named a Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres from the French Ministry of Culture and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Rowan State University, Pratt Institute of Art, and the School of Art Institute Chicago. She was honored by ASCAP with the Founders Award, representing lifetime achievement, and is the recipient of Sweden’s Polar Award, an international acknowledgement for significant achievements in music. Smith was also awarded the Katharine Hepburn Medal from Bryn Mawr College, and presented with a Medal of Distinction from the Barnard College Board of Trustees as well.


“What a magical evening we had! Patti was so wonderful to work with and the event was incredible. Her conversation was insightful, funny and stimulating, and the music was beautiful and invigorating. Our audience (and I), had such an amazing time. We have done a lot of amazing programs, but this by far has been my favorite. Please pass on our thanks. And thank you for all of your work. I enjoyed working with [Lavin] on this!”

The USC Arts and Humanities Initiative