- 05 Feb 20
The "punk poet laureate" is up for a literary service award
Patti Smith will receive the 2020 PEN America Literary Service Award at this year’s PEN America Literary Gala on May 19.
Each year, the award goes to a cultural leader whose work contributes to our understanding of the human condition. Smith is in good company among past recipients like Stephen King, J.K. Rowling and Toni Morrison.
Smith, known to some as the "punk poet laureate", has inspired for decades with her blend of rock music and freeform poetry. The punk rock icon is an activist, penning lyrical protests and performing for social and environmental causes. She released multiple books, including her third memoir, Year of the Monkey, last year.
“In all of Patti Smith’s thrilling incarnations—rock goddess, poet, eloquent witness to the bohemian New York of her youth—she has testified to the transformative power of literature in her own life and used her stardom to encourage reading and writing in the legions who revere her,” PEN America President Jennifer Egan said. “A polestar of my own teenage years, she set an example of badass female artistry, coupled with deeply principled humanity, that I’m still trying to live up to. It will be an almost surreal joy to honor and celebrate the great Patti Smith at our 2020 gala.”