If you’re looking to finetune your use of symbols, you’re in the right place. This class works brilliantly all on its own, but you might also want to think of it as the sixth part in our poetry writing series. If so, you should have a look at part 1 with Avicii, part 2 with Against The Current, part 3 with Machine Gun Kelly, part 4 with Tate McRae and part 5 with Architects.
So, what kind of details might add real depth and dynamism to your writing? Let’s look at some writers who know a thing or two about symbols. We think these writers will be able to teach you A LOT!
The key! “Keys are symbols of opening and closing. Locks and keys affect our lives in various ways. Sometimes a key means the difference between freedom and incarceration, or life and death.” Why does the writer of ‘Sleep In’ give his lover a key? What does the key symbol represent? Write down your ideas. You will want to do further research. Start here if you wish.
Dashboard Confessional: ‘Sleep In‘
"The key That I'd had made for you Down at the hardware store As a gift, that I'd given you for No particular occasion Nothin' special, just a gesture Of my feelings"
The colour yellow! “It’s the colour of happiness, and optimism, of enlightenment and creativity, sunshine and spring. Lurking in the background is the dark side of yellow: cowardice, betrayal, egoism, and madness. Furthermore, yellow is the colour of caution and physical illness (jaundice, malaria, and pestilence).” Taking into account the above – and anything else you can find out about the colour yellow – why do you think Ethel Cain talks about “yellow light”? What is the poet suggesting about their experience of growing up?
Ethel Cain: ‘American Teenager’
"Grew up under yellow light."
The dandelion!! “With their golden flowers in the early spring, dandelions represent the return of life, the rebirth of growth and green after a harsh winter, and a display of abundant strength and power. For generations, adults have taught children that if you wish for something while blowing, and manage to blow all of the seeds away, then the wish will come true. The hope of wishes coming true continue becomes a lifelong association.” So, when MUNA blow on the dandelion, they’re dreaming of new starts? Of dreams coming true? What else? Why do you think they use the dandelion symbol? Research the dandelion and find out!
MUNA: ‘Kind of Girl’
"I'm a girl who's blowing on a dandelion Thinkin' how the winds could change at any given time"
The balcony! How interesting that Charli XCX takes her lover out to the balcony. Remember, this is a lover she is meant to be keeping secret. She’s already in a relationship – and so, for that matter, is her lover. And yet we find them: “On the balcony, facing the outer world while letting in a glimpse of our inner life.” Maybe the couple like the romantic setting – think about Romeo and Juliet, and the famous balcony scene.
But earlier in time, “balconies were built to give a privileged vantage point for the ruling class.” Maybe the poet’s balcony symbolises her belief that she and her partner are above the usual rules and regulations. And yet: “In times of war, the fortified balconies (called hoards) provided additional defence and improved the range of fire.” Maybe Charli XCX is preparing for the ‘attack’ that will inevitably follow the discovery of her affair. What do you think the balcony symbolises? Do some more research – see if you can come up with more ideas.
Charli XCX: ‘Every Rule’
"...on the balcony Wrapped up in nothing but sheets"
In class, we’ve been writing poems that revolve around a message we want to give a family member or friend. Or we’ve been writing a poem about an important message or piece of advice that a family member or friend has shared with us! We took inspiration for our poem from Avicii.
Add some objects with symbolic value (objects that means more than might be obvious on first reading) into your redrafted version of this poem – or maybe you want to write a brand new poem about something else entirely. Either way, consider your symbols closely. Do some research and work hard to come up with the most exciting ideas you can.
Once you’re done, you can send your ideas (or questions) in. We want to publish the most exciting writing and offer advice.
Or have a go at writing about your experiences as a teenager with a little help from the inspirational Taylor Swift!