We regret to announce the cancellation of Patti Smith in Conversation with Paul Kelly following the government’s directive to restrict public gatherings. Read the full statement about the Sydney Writers' Festival 2020 cancellation here

In this very special event, celebrated lyricist and acclaimed author Patti Smith sits down with one of Australia’s pre-eminent wordsmiths, Paul Kelly, to tell her most powerful story yet.

Since her start in the 1970s New York arts scene, Patti Smith’s groundbreaking body of work has been defined by her visionary creativity. The influential writer, performer and artist has published numerous collections of poetry and essays, and recorded 13 albums, including the seminal Horses. She has won the National Book Award for her memoir Just Kids, which was followed by the acclaimed M Train. In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Patti the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honour awarded by the French Republic to eminent artists and writers.

Patti’s most recent book, the New York Times–bestselling Year of the Monkey, blends memoir with fiction in a way that redefines the genre. Following a run of New Year’s concerts at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore, Patti embarked upon a year of solitary wandering. As chronicled in Year of the Monkey, it was a year that brought unexpected turns, heightened mischief and inescapable sorrow as she journeyed from Southern California to the Arizona desert, from the Kentucky farm of a friend in crisis to the hospital room of a valued mentor. 

In conversation with Australia’s unofficial poet laureate, Paul Kelly, Patti tells the story of that year’s reckoning; sharing her thoughts on loss and aging, personal catastrophe, political grief – and hoping for a better world.

With her sell-out Australian tour of 2017 thought to be the last time Patti would see Australia’s shores, don’t miss this rare opportunity to hear two icons discuss the magical – and vital – power of stories. 

This event runs for approximately 80 minutes.

You can find FAQs here

Patti Smith (International)

Patti Smith

A writer, performer, and visual artist, Patti Smith has exhibited her drawings and photographs internationally, most recently Camera Solo at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum in Hartford. She has recorded thirteen albums, launched by the seminal Horses in 1975. Her many books include WittBabelThe Coral Sea, Auguries of Innocence, M Train and Just Kids, which won the National Book Award in 2010. Patti Smith lives in New York City.

Paul Kelly (Australian)

Paul Kelly

Paul Kelly was born in Adelaide in 1955. He wrote his first song in 1976 and has been making records since 1978 — more than thirty to date. He has collaborated with many other songwriters and written music for film and theatre. In 2010, he published a 'mongrel memoir', How to Make Gravy, and in 2019 an anthology of poetry, Love is Strong as Death. His most recent album is Thirteen Ways to Look at Birds.