BC Poetry Profile: Lauren Chenoweth

Lauren Chenoweth // Used with permission.

Lauren Chenoweth is a part-time Running Start student taking a poetry class here at Bellevue College. Featured below we have her poem titled “Clay Hearts Fix Problems,” followed by a brief interview.

“Clay Hearts Fix Problems”

Lauren Chenoweth loves solutions, complicated,
     complex tasks that give her
purpose, mend her holes, she puts glasses
     on her heart so she
can see other people, can hear them. Her
     heart is made of clay. Is
incredibly malleable, held in their hands she
     never says no to helping.
Always ready for giving, ready to put
     on a brainstorm beret to
drop everything she carries. Her heart changes 
     shape for each new
person. Her heart bends more
     each day they mold it to
fit their needs. It’s messy work creating
     something out of clay and
once baked is functional yet always sort of
     fragile. She is always extra careful to
avoid being shattered like a plate in
     a heated argument. She searches for
ways to be used, for things she
     can carry. She
longs to be chosen to
     bear a friend’s burden. She
seeks out ways to be
     helpful. To be 
needed like the dishes her
     heart longs to resemble. Useful
like the forks and spoons those
     dishes sit beside every
day. She would hate to gather
     dust, be forgotten, lost,
somewhere in the back of
     the cabinet alone. Alone.
What is she without a use? Who
     is she without the person
who shaped her themselves? Who
     built her to use? Who
carved designs so carefully
     crafted? So beautiful they
praised her designs, deemed
     them perfection. She
was just happy to be carved. She
     said nothing about the way it
felt to be scrapped at repeatedly. No.
     She said nothing at all when
her heart was left too
    dry it began to crack and 
crumble without the touch of
     the hands who made
it. Began to fall apart when
     left exposed to the unforgiving air. Her
potter did not notice or did
     not care. Perhaps he
had started a new
     project more interesting or
flexible than she was. Maybe
     he realized he did
not need a clay heart
     anymore. Abandoned
her before she was ready for
     the kiln. Leaving her
useless and helpless with no
     chance to be a dish. No
chance of salvation. The
     next person would have to
start from scratch. Maybe
     next time she would
be harder to shape, or
     perhaps, next time she
would not be forgotten and
     would become the 
dish she longed to be. And
     even if the next person grew
bored, perhaps she could
     be passed on in one
piece and not

Q: What is this poem about? Why did you choose it?

A: This poem is about how it feels to base your self-worth on what you can do for other people, but [hurting] yourself in the process. Our assignment was to imitate another poem, so this one functions as an imitation of Victoria Chang’s poem “Barbie Chang Loves Evites,” where the subject bases her self-worth on being invited to events and being a part of a group.

Q: Tell me a bit about yourself, your education and your writing experience.

A: I grew up in Rhode Island. I’m a very musical person: I sing, I play the cello and I dance competitively. I have two younger sisters and three cats. I went to Tyee Middle School and [I] attend Sammamish High School part-time this year. My writing experience doesn’t go much further than what I have done in English class each year, but I have definitely grown as a writer throughout those years.

Q: Do you plan on pursuing poetry or a writing of another kind?

A: I have actually struggled to enjoy writing throughout my school years and it has been my least favorite part of most English classes I have taken. However, I have found that this is not the case with poetry and that being able to write about my experiences is much more enjoyable than analyzing another author’s work. I do not know what I want to do in the future, but maybe I will find a calling in poetry.

To sign up for a poetry class during spring quarter, click here and search “poetry” in the search bar. To find the rest of the Poetry Profile series, click here.