M Train Author Patti Smith in Conversation with Michael Patrick MacDonald

  • Berklee Performance Center 136 Massachusetts Avenue Boston, MA, 02115 United States

From the National Book Award–winning author of Just Kids, M Train by Patti Smith is an unforgettable odyssey of a legendary artist, told through the cafés and haunts she has worked in around the world. It is a book Smith has described as “a roadmap to my life.”

M Train begins in the tiny Greenwich Village café where Smith goes every morning for black coffee, ruminates on the world as it is and the world as it was, and writes in her notebook. Through prose that shifts fluidly between dreams and reality, past and present, we travel to Frida Kahlo’s Casa Azul in Mexico; to the fertile moon terrain of Iceland; to a ramshackle seaside bungalow in New York’s Far Rockaway that Smith acquires just before Hurricane Sandy hits; to the West 4th Street subway station, filled with the sounds of the Velvet Underground after the death of Lou Reed; and to the graves of Genet, Plath, Rimbaud, and Mishima. 

Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft and on artistic creation. Here, too, are singular memories of Smith’s life in Michigan and the irremediable loss of her husband, Fred Sonic Smith.  

Patti Smith is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. She has released twelve albums, including Horses, which has been hailed as one of the top one hundred albums of all time by Rolling Stone. Her books include Just Kids, winner of the National Book Award in 2010, Wītt, Babel, Woolgathering, The Coral Sea, and Auguries of Innocence. In 2005, the French Ministry of Culture awarded Smith the title of Commandeur des Arts et des Lettres, the highest honor given to an artist by the French Republic. She was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2007. 

Michael Patrick MacDonald grew up in South Boston’s Old Colony housing project. After losing four siblings and seeing his generation decimated by poverty, crime, and addiction, he became a leading Boston activist, helping launch many anti-violence initiatives, including gun-buyback programs. He continues to work for social change nationally, collaborating with survivor families and young people. MacDonald won the American Book Award in 2000. His national bestseller, All Souls, and his follow-up, Easter Rising: A Memoir of Roots and Rebellion have been adopted by university curriculums across the country. MacDonald has written numerous essays for the Boston Globe Op-Ed page. He is currently author-in-residence at Northeastern University.