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The Chat with Hasan Namir

Poet Hasan Namir has produced a moving and complex portrait of fatherhood in his latest work, the poetry collection Umbilical Cord (Book*hug). Today he joins us on The Chat.

Hasan Namir_Author Photo_Credit Tarn Khare

Praising the work, Griffin Poetry Prize winner Kaie Kellough says, “Umbilical Cord’s poems have a lucent quality and a supple rhythm that carries their tenderness to a reader. In an instant, the poems can become as raw, as immediate as touch. This work begins in heat and heartbeat, as a relationship and a family come into being, and it reflects the intimacies, anxieties, and devotions of love.  At once personally revealing and focused outward on the challenges that queer families face, in Umbilical Cord love triumphs over intolerance, and the future, named “Malek,” is nurtured by two devoted fathers.” 

Hasan Namir is an Iraqi-Canadian author. He graduated from Simon Fraser University with a BA in English and received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award. He is the author of God in Pink (2015), which won the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and was chosen as one of the Top 100 Books of 2015 by The Globe and Mail. His work has also been in media across Canada. He is also the author of the poetry book War/Torn (2019, Book*hug Press) which received the 2020 Barbara Gittings Honor Book Award from the Stonewall Book Awards, and children’s book The Name I Call Myself (2020). Hasan lives in Vancouver with his husband and child.


Trevor Corkum: Umbilical Cord is a moving and intimate collection of poems celebrating family and fatherhood. Why was it important for you to write the book?

Hasan Namir: I wrote this book, sharing my own personal family story and our fatherhood journey, in hopes that it will inspire others. I hope with this book that the door is open for queer families to have space and a platform. I want our stories to exist and be heard. I hope that whoever picks up the book can find joy and love in the poems and the photos.


TC: In the poems, you describe the hopes, fears, indescribable joys and milestones of your parenting journey. In what ways has being a father changed you?

HN: My life has forever changed for the best. It’s been such a joy watching Malek grow and thrive. I feel like time is flying, so I’m trying to embrace and cherish every moment possible. I’m very lucky because I have the best partner and husband. Tarn is such an amazing dad. Together, we are raising our son with so much love. Now, I wake up every morning with the biggest smile on my face when I see Malek’s face like a sun shining in front of me.

I definitely feel more responsible now and I’m grateful for everything. Every day we learn something new. I look forward to reading Malek a children’s book in the evening, taking him to daycare, picking him up and doing all these fun activities with him. As a writer, I feel inspired to write more children’s picture books ever since Malek was born because I want to be able to share these stories with him. So I’m writing a lot more children’s books now.

TC: Some of the poems describe the intolerance and vitriol you’ve received online as you’ve shared this journey. Can you talk more about the particular challenges (and the unexpected joys) you’ve faced as a queer father?

HN: I remember one time, we shared our family photos on a Facebook group that we were part of. We wanted to share our happiness with everyone. There was a lot of love and support from most people, but there were the odd comments from people saying that Malek is going to grow up confused, and that what we’re doing is wrong and that we should be ashamed of ourselves. Luckily, a lot of people defended us. We also reiterated that there’s nothing confusing about this. I loved Tarn and we’re married and we have a baby and that families are not the same. Most of our experiences have been positive but sometimes, people have asked where the mother is etc, and we have to explain ourself. Whenever we go out, there will be people that will look. Tarn and I are totally okay with it, it doesn’t bother us. We are a unique family for sure, but we are the same as just any other family as well. I’m grateful for everything and I have no problem answering questions about our family and we’re very open about it at all.

We also reiterated that there’s nothing confusing about this. I loved Tarn and we’re married and we have a baby and that families are not the same.

TC: I love the central metaphor of the umbilical cord, connecting you to your son. In what ways does that umbilical cord function for you as a metaphor?

HN: For me, the umbilical cord is a feeling, a sentiment. When Kiran, my sister-in-law, was pregnant with Malek, I felt that he was a part of me. There was a special connection that I was feeling throughout it all. After he was born, both Tarn and I share the same mutual feeling of binding love with our son Malek. The love we have for Malek is beyond words. Tarn and I are mothers, fathers, parents of our Malek. This feeling will be with us forever.

TC: Woven among the poems are short, direct addresses to your son. The entire collection is such a powerful love letter. What are your hopes when you imagine him reading this book years in the future?

HN: Thank you so much. I have read a lot of the “Dear Child” poems to him when I was on parental leave. I took a year off from work to raise Malek while Tarn was working. One day, I really hope that when Malek is old enough, he will pick up the book and read it. I hope that he will appreciate our parenthood journey and what it took for Malek to come into this world. May the book be a reminder that we love him endlessly and that he’s our life, our world, our heart and soul and that his baba fell in love with his dad and that his amazing aunt gave them the gift of Malek.


34 Weeks & 2 Days

It’s been two days
You and I trying to rest
on the waiting-room bed
It’s been two hours
Oxytocin flowing within her blood

“Get out!”
We understood her emotions
We kept our distance
Few hours passed
Her silence
and light screams
“She’s in active labour now.”
At 4:00 a.m., it was the loudest scream
We walked into the room
Cervix dilated
Slowly, Malek’s head
He arrived at 4:09 a.m.
A surreal feeling
Seemingly lifeless flesh
Surrounded by nurses
Together, as the intended parents,
We cut the umbilical cord
The flesh had a soul

“34 Weeks and 2 Days” published in Umbilical Cord © 2021 by Hasan Namir. Used with permission of Book*hug Press.

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