Lavinia Greenlaw

This article is from 2007

Lavinia Greenlaw

Defining yourself through songs

Lavinia Greenlaw’s latest book, The Importance of Music to Girls, is a memoir recalling her girlhood rendered through music. Beginning with her first musical memory of waltzing on her father’s feet, it meanders through the musicals and recorder practice of her childhood to toying with disco and punk in her teens. ‘Though we often define ourselves by the music of our teens, I wanted to look at all kinds of music,’ notes Greenlaw. ‘Circle games in the playground, being sung to sleep, ballet, country dancing, trying to play an instrument, and using music to talk to boys like they talk to each other about football.’

Along the way this poet and radio broadcaster reflected on the tensions which can be created both in music and in life. ‘When you’re in your teens the music is very discordant, but then so is being a teenager. I think, more than any other label – the disco girl or punk of my teens – music is how I’ve defined myself. Sometimes it just makes more sense than anything else.’ Even all those songs children sing without knowing what they mean; nonsense rhymes, skipping songs about teenagers leaving their knickers in boyfriends’ cars, and Dr Hook loving you a little bit more. (Kate Gould)

Recommended Reading: Night Photograph is her 1993 debut poetry collection which received plaudits form Andrew Motion and Glyn Maxwell.

22 Aug (with Kirsty Gunn), 12.30pm, £7 (£5).