The next installment of our In Conversation series features Lambda Literary and Stonewall Book Award-winner Hasan Namir! Namir’s new collection of poetry, Umbilical Cord, documents the journey that he and his husband took to have a child. Between love letters to their young son, Namir shares insight into his love story with his husband, the complexities of the IVF surrogacy process, and the first year as a family of three. Umbilical Cord is a heartfelt book for parents or would-be parents, with a universal message of hope.
In the following interview, Namir shares tender details about the composition of his book, including moments in which holding his son Malek and reading to him served as poetic inspiration. He offers up some big emotional takeaways and mentions a few of the books he is most excited to read over the next couple of months.
B*H: Can you describe what your book is about?
HN: Umbilical Cord is a collection of poems that encapsulate a mutual dream of mine and my husband in becoming dads. It’s about the surrogacy journey and how that dream became true. The Umbilical Cord is a feeling that binds two dads and a baby together. It’s about love and family and parenthood.
B*H: Can you describe the ideal reader of your book?
HN: I think this book will appeal to all kinds of readers, including parents, families, and poetry readers. I wrote the book in a way that is accessible for all and hopefully, it can reach the hearts of all kinds of readers.
B*H: What about writing your book surprised you?
HN: A lot of the poems that I wrote for the book were during the time when I was on parental leave. Often, I’d be holding Malek, our son in my arms and then I’d have an idea to write a poem so I’d write while experiencing that moment. Seeing Malek grow in front of my eyes has been surprisingly magical. I never knew what to expect so there’s always something new in that journey and that reflected on the writing process too in the most amazing way possible.
B*H: How did you know that your book was finished?
HN: When I was writing it, I already had the structure all thought out in my end. I knew that this was about my love story with Tarn, the surrogacy journey, and parenthood journey up to the first year of Malek’s life. With that in mind, I had a time frame in my end and I wrote the poems within it.
B*H: What did you read while writing your book?
HN: A lot of children’s picture books. Tarn and I would read a picture book to Malek every night since he was born. This inspired me to have the book be like a baby book, too, chronicling Malek’s milestones.
B*H: What new book, or books, are you looking forward to reading?
HN: I’m excited to read For Laika The Dog Who Learned the Names of the Stars by Kai Cheng Thom and illustrated by Kai Yun Ching. Also, I’m looking forward to reading Tongues: On Longing and Belonging Through Language edited by Eufemia Fantetti, Leonarda Carranza and Ayelet Tsabari.
B*H: What do you want readers to take away from your book?
I hope that Umbilical Cord can spread the universal message of family and that even when some dreams seem impossible to be fulfilled, with hope, determination and love, those dreams can become true.
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.