We added some musical madness to our First Story class today, with Kate drawing inspiration from Leonard Cohen's Famous Blue Raincoat:
Once we were actually able to play the song, the group discussed the difference between writing lyrics and writing poems, though none of the First Story students present considered themselves lyricists. We looked at the rhyme in particular, which Kate openly abhors usually, but we agreed was acceptable in song lyrics. Why is this?
The song is written in the form of a letter, full of mystery about who is being addressed and who is being spoken to. But within the lines are tiny, unique details, strangely specific in a song so vague. Like the famous blue raincoat of the title, these details leave us asking questions, as demonstrated by numerous online discussions about what Leonard Cohen was trying to say.
Drawing on Cohen's style, we wrote our own letters, focusing on a small number of solid images, like names of streets and people. We were given the opportunity to write about something personal or create a dramatic monologue about a fictional scenario.
I went for the fictional option, and, as I so often find when I initially struggle with a piece of writing, the words soon took over and a story developed. What began as a love letter between a recently separated couple turned into a macabre tale about obsessive love, with a stalker writing to his victim.
Our First Story students, again proving themselves to be pure genius, wrote amazing pieces of prose and poetry, some imagined and some semi-autobiographical. As a whole, our group tend towards the darker side of writing, often exploring love or loss or even hope through cynical eyes. And yet, we have much to celebrate amongst our cohort of young writers, as demonstrated by their ability to get right back into the flow of creativity today.