Born in 1931 in Menominee, Michigan, Patrick Smith was a pilot in the U.S. Air Force and an engineering writer for General Motors before returning to graduate school at the University of California, Davis, where he completed a PhD in modern literature in 1965.  

He taught English at the University of San Francisco from 1966 to 1996, serving ten years as department chairman. He founded Pancake Press in 1974, publishing his own work and that of Jean Carr, David Derus, Stephen Dunning, John Logan, and David Ray. His works in print include Susannah and the Elders, 1992 (poetry) and LIFEnearDEATH Portraits from a Hospice, 2000 (paintings). His poetry was also published in America and New Letters, and in several fugitive presses. 

In 1991, Patrick opened a studio in the Submarine Cafeteria at Hunters Point in San Francisco, where he created prints and oil paintings until his death in 2013. His art has been exhibited in San Francisco, Fort Lauderdale, Iowa City, and Venice, Italy.