Hasan Syed: Poetic Alcoholic
When Hasan Syed started writing poetry at age fifteen, he didn’t think he would ever publish a book. Back then he wrote just to get his feelings out onto paper. In fact, he didn’t even need the paper: if he was at a restaurant when a poem came to him, he would grab the nearest napkin to jot it down.
Six years later, Hasan has just published his first book: Poetic Alcoholic, a collection of poems celebrating vulnerability.
Growing up in diverse New York City taught Hasan early-on to appreciate personal narratives. These narratives are heavily explored throughout his book, which Hasan describes as “a vessel of a couple hundred people sharing their pain.” He admits very few poems in Poetic Alcoholic are actually about him. Rather, most are stories of people he met while traveling who shared their struggles and personal journeys with him. Hasan wrote these stories down as poems, which he compiled together to create Poetic Alcoholic. “Essentially,” he explains about his book, “it’s me sharing stories of sadness and trying to turn them into stories of beauty.”
People think if they show emotions they show their weaknesses, but that’s not true. Sometimes you have to show vulnerability to make a new self.
Hasan’s heritage as a Pakistani-American is one of his biggest inspirations for his poetry. He is motivated by the sacrifices that his family and many others have made to provide for their children. “I think being brown is very poetic,” he says. “We come from the struggle. Our parents came to America from all different countries to create a foundation for us.” The challenges that immigrants in America have overcome paved the way for a new generation of artists of color like himself, and he tries to reflect their voices in his work. Hasan also draws inspiration from his faith and will often listen to the Quran when writing. “Islam is poetic,” he explains. “The Quran is poetic. It’s the spoken word of God; how can you not think it’s poetic?”
Hasan hopes that his book will let readers see that being vulnerable is not being weak. Rather, vulnerability is something to be celebrated: “People think if they show emotions they show their weaknesses, but that’s not true. Sometimes you have to show vulnerability—be hurt, go through heartbreak—to make a new self. Because every pain we go through leads to us growing as a person.”