Student Art Spotlight: Lauren Hassan


Senior Lauren Hassan, founder of the CHS Slam Poetry Club, delivers a slam poem. Hassan writes and performs poems covering a wide range of topics from racism to romance.

By Sarah O'Brien and Balbina Yang, Arts Editors

When we think of the arts, it’s usually music, theater or fine arts. However, ever since senior Lauren Hassan started the Slam Poetry Club, the CHS arts community has had an outspoken new member.
“Since she came to CHS, I have seen her grow into a respected leader of her peers,” Slam Poetry club sponsor, Christin Nixon said. “She has always been outspoken, but I have seen her take that talent and use it to influence her peers and society to make a positive difference.
Slam poetry or “spoken word” is similar to rap music but without music in the background. Although slam poems can be about anything, they usually center on social injustices.
“It’s not always poetic, it doesn’t have to rhyme, it doesn’t have to be about anything specific, it can be collaborative and it most definitely does not have to angry,” Hassan said. “Some slam poems are angry but there also those that are funny or sad or inspiring. There are no rules, it is simply a creative way to express yourself in a manner that grabs people’s attention.”
Hassan, however, tries to push herself out of her comfort zone to tackle hard-hitting issues in her poems.
“I tend to write about feminism, racism, romance and family but I try to take on perspectives that aren’t usually covered,” Hassan said. “In a sense, I shed a new light on overused topics.”
In terms of inspiration, Hassan uses her everyday experiences and past events.
“If I overhear a stranger say something I disagree with, or if I see something that makes me think, I can make something from that encounter,” Hassan said. “Anything can spark an idea and you really can make something from nothing.”
As the Slam Poetry Club is relatively new at CHS, Hassan welcomes new members. Her advice for beginners is to write about real-life events.
“A lot of people who are new to slam poetry tend to struggle with not knowing where to start,” Hassan said. “The thing is, writing slam poetry is no different than writing in general. Draw from your life. If someone makes you angry, if you see something upsetting on the news, if you try something new that you loved or you hated you can make that into a slam poem.”
And just like any other writer, Hassan faces writer’s block.
“Unfortunately, writer’s block isn’t something you can just wish away,” Hassan said. “It’s unavoidable and it’s inconvenient so a lot of the time you just have to wait for it to pass, unless you have a deadline.”
Hassan has some advice for other students faced with writer’s block.
“Read some prompts, listen to some motivational music, drink some coffee and don’t get comfortable because if you’re too comfortable, you won’t want to write,” Hassan said. “If you keep writing, eventually, it’ll will get better. As long as you keep writing it doesn’t matter how good it it and it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about. I promise you, writer’s block ends. It’s like cleaning out a drain: you have to get all the gross stuff out before the water’s clean again.”
Along with art in the written and spoken word, Hassan is interested in many aspects of art, as she took tap dancing, ballet, piano and singing lessons. This year she is in SingChronicity, the new chorus class offered at CHS as well as ceramics.
“Since the club began, Hassan has really encouraged me to try various types of slam—especially during our meetings when everyone is practicing,” Nixon said. “It is so much fun and usually very shocking to hear what people can come up with. Many times what I hear in our slam meetings or when viewing various slams is a great deal of passion and beautiful word choice. It seems that poets who do Slam are able to reveal more raw emotion and insightful perspectives than they usually would.”