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Patti Smith reflects on 50-year career for ‘Harper’s Bazaar’

Pieter Hugo / Harper’s BAZAAR Dec/Jan Issue

Patti Smith is on the cover of this month’s Harper’s Bazaar, where she looks back on her 50-year career. The singer’s been given a variety of titles, including “rock poet,” “godmother of punk” and more, but she doesn’t care for them very much.

“Calling me a rock poet or the poet laureate of punk? What does that mean?” she asks. “If they just call me a worker, which is what I am, they wouldn’t have to try so hard to find some kind of absurd little tagline.”

Smith, who recently released her new visual book, A Book of Days, is certainly a lot of things, including a musician, poet and writer. She admits she has a lot of admiration for people who can focus on just one thing, which she’s incapable of.

“I’m just not that kind of person. I don’t know why,” she says, noting she loves to perform, talk to people and more. She does share, though, that there are times she’ll “just want my solitude or to sit alone in a café or in my room or at a desk and write for hours.” 

Patti is set to turn 76 on December 30, and she has some thoughts as to why she is still around. “I haven’t survived all this time, and sadly survived many of my friends and loved ones, because of any special formula,” she says. “I’ve survived [because] I want to live. I want to be here,” she adds. “Even in our troubled world. Even with all the greed and stupidity and terrible things that we’re all facing and reading in the news or experiencing, I want to be alive. I want to breathe. I want to do my work.”

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