Lady Lamb, also known as Aly Spaltro, is a singer-songwriter and former Brunswick High School student. She will perform at Brunswick High School Nov. 25. The event is closed to the public.  (Photo by Erica Peplin)

BRUNSWICK — Samantha Francis-Taylor and her fellow Brunswick High School English teachers are panicking. Over the past 10 years, they have seen a general lack of interest in writing among students swell into what Francis-Taylor calls a writing crisis. 

“These kids can’t write. … They want instant gratification,” she said. Kids are reading and writing less, as movies, podcasts, the internet and other media take priority, she said. 

 “It is always easier to make the choice to do anything else other than write” and the students seem to “think of it as this antiquated thing only old people care about,” she added. 

“But all kids have a relationship to music.” 

Next Monday, Aly Spaltro, better known as Lady Lamb (formerly Lady Lamb the Beekeeper), a singer-songwriter and former Brunswick High School student, will perform at the school and lead a discussion about songwriting. The visit is part of an event started last year called Generation Text; an initiative to bring writers of all kinds to Brunswick to show kids why writing matters and what writing can look like in day-to-day life. 

Last year, Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains,” a finalist for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, led a talk about technology and technology writing. 

“The whole school was engaged,” Francis-Taylor said, and she hopes this year will be no different. “It will get all the kids having the same conversation at the time time,” something that happens too rarely in a school with more than 730 students. 

“Writing and writing music is a great outlet to process what’s going on in our lives,” she said, and “music has the ability to cast a wider net than many other forms of writing. 

Spaltro thinks of herself as a writer, a poet first and foremost. She always writes the lyrics of her songs first and then backs the lyrics with music, she said in an interview. 

She first started writing as a freshman at Brunswick High School. 

“I was 14, full of a lot of feelings … trying to express myself that way,” she said. But then life got in the way, and though she continued to write poetry, she put songwriting aside until the summer after graduation when she started recording at Bart and Greg’s DVD Explosion in the Tontine Mall. 

There, she taught herself how to play instruments and, 12 years later, a signed musician with multiple albums under her belt, she is able to once again focus on lyrics.

At the event next week (her first visit since she graduated in 2007, she said) she hopes to “make it known that the lyrics are a poem and you can be inspired by the words alone if you listen to them.” 

Her songs and her poetry are less dramatic now than when she was a teenager, she said, calling her most recent album, “Even in the Tremor,” “introspective and observational and a little philosophical at times.” 

“I love to walk and I spent quite a bit of time in Mexico City, walking around and observing what I saw,” Spaltro, who now lives in New York City, said. 

This, she said, also a good idea for young people who may want to start pursuing music. 

“Exercise that part of you if you are a creative person,” she said. “Just start observing everything around you and writing it down. Music can serve a really wonderful vehicle to express what you would like to express,” she said. High school students are “in a perfect time in their lives to be experimenting with what artistically fulfills them.” 

Some students who have what Spaltro called “creative leanings,” will also be participating in the event. 

High School senior Pearl Stuart, who recently released her own album (Spaltro gave it a listen and said she was “blown away”) has been helping to coordinate the event and will introduce Lady Lamb. Another students is a “budding musical photographer” and will photograph the performance Francis-Taylor said, and another will run the lighting. 

This year’s event was made possible by an award from the Brunswick Community Education Foundation, which is an independent nonprofit committed to supporting students and teachers in Brunswick by raising and distributing “funds for initiatives and enrichment activities that support Brunswick School Department’s mission,” members said earlier this year. 

This year, the awards totaled $26,000 and helped fund small projects in each school. 

The first year was funded through a Kickstarter, Francis-Taylor said, and raised about $1,500, with half the funds coming from Wild Oats Bakery and Cafe

They hope to gain momentum each year, she said, and continue to bring in experts who are well-known in order to keep the bar high. 

This program is a way to attach kids to what’s happening now in the realm of writing and the exchange of ideas,” she and Russell wrote in their application to the education foundation. “We want Generation Text to provide our young emerging artists and thinkers with a prestigious and tangible example of what a writer and writing can do in this world.” 

The event is not open to the public, but all Brunswick High School students are invited and encouraged to attend.

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