Secrets of a poetry-loving superstar

Secrets of a poetry-loving superstar

Barry C Chung discovers what inspires a Grammy winner

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Secrets of a poetry-loving superstar_L
Photo: Universal Music
More than two years after the infamous Kanye West debacle at the MTV Video Music Awards, Swift's latest album Speak Now speaks volumes about her and her attitude to life. For example, referring to track 11, Innocent, she told New York magazine: "I think a lot of people expected me to write a song about [West]. But, for me, it was important to write a song to him." The difference is subtle, but it says a lot about her character and the therapeutic qualities she attaches to writing.

Swift started writing songs at a young age - at 12, having learned three chords on the guitar, she wrote her first song. Her passion has swelled and ripened into the Grammy-winning skill she has today.

"I had always had this love for poetry growing up," the 21-year-old recalls, adding that she loves "the idea that if you get the right amount of words, the right combination of words and you put them together the right way, you can make words bounce off a page like they have a rhythm ..."

Much of Swift's success can be traced back to her teens, and even earlier. She writes from the heart, drawing from intimate experiences of her past. As a result, her lyrics deal with highly personal and often sensitive issues, which she says should read like a diary - her diary. She's fine with letting others into her personal space and accepts it as the "price of being honest", adding that her privacy comes when she sleeps.

So it's only natural that Speak Now should be about her and her alone. Often, ideas for lyrics come to her at the oddest and most inopportune moments, leaving her to drop what she's doing in order to put the ideas into written words.

"A lot of the most intense song ideas that I've ever got have come at me really fast," she explains, "and I've ended up writing them really fast. And before I knew it, I had written the entire album, and, uh, it just sort of happened that way."

Mine was the first single released from the album. As with many of Swift's songs, it deals with love, but this time there's a more positive spin on broken hearts.

"This song is about finding the one person who's the exception to all that fear," she says. "The one person who makes you realise that it's not a lost cause to fall in love."

Swift loves the prospect of performing in front of packed houses all over the world, something she dreamed of as a kid. Meeting fans is another high point.

"There are so many 'Meet and Greets' ... at least one at every single show, usually one before and one after the show," she says. "I really love talking to them [the fans] because some of them, some of them cry, some of them start screaming and that's pretty cute.

"Then a lot of them tell me stories about how each song has affected them and I never would have expected the impact that some of the songs had on people, it's just really a treat to get to know that sort of thing and it, it's one of things that makes me so thankful and grateful that I get to do this."

Hong Kong is the final destination on the Asian leg of Swift's 42-country Speak Now World Tour.

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1 comment

Isabella Di Caro

16:37pm

She's such an amazing person, and she's right. Hers songs made an enormous impact in my life, and it kind of felt like hearing my own diary at times. I love the fact she likes meeting her fans, and that she was so kind the Kanye after what happened! Taylor Swift is amazing, i really look up to her.