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Culture & Religion

An Interview with Patti Smith

Patti Smith became a rock star by accident—it made her an icon. She wrote a book—it won a major award. Now, with an album on the way and a U.K. tour, she's as driven as ever.

When, in the late 60s and early 70s, Patti Smith was working in bookstores in New York, often having to choose between art supplies and lunch, she stacked National Book Award-winning books on shelves, wrapped them up for customers, sold them. And as she did so, she told a rapt audience last November, choking up with tears, “I dreamed of having a book of my own, of writing one that I could put on a shelf”; she hardly dreamed of having a National Book award of her own as well. Robert Mapplethorpe was the person who refused to “listen to me falter, question myself, question my abilities.”


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