Books: Vancouver poet Namir celebrates the joys of same-sex parenthood

The emotional focus of Hasan Namir’s book connects his joyful bond with his son and his painful and deep bond with his bewildered and somewhat homophobic father.

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Umbilical cord

Hassan Namir | | Book*Hug Press (Toronto, 2021)

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$20 | 147pp.

Hasan Namir, the Vancouver author of Umbilical Cord, has an impressive track record for a young writer.

A graduate of Simon Fraser University, Namir received the Ying Chen Creative Writing Student Award there. His 2015 novel God in Pink was well received, winning the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Fiction and appearing on The Globe and Mail’s 100 Best Books of 2015 list.

He is prolific. In addition to his first novel and the poetry collection reviewed here, Namir has published an earlier, award-winning poetry collection and a children’s book, as well as screenplay material for the film version of God in Pink. This year, he was chosen by Word Vancouver 2021 as an LBGTQ2s+ guest curator.

Namir clearly expects the poems in the Umbilical Cord to be read together, and not treated as single verses. He emphasized this point in a recent interview, where he said, “As a poet, I don’t write separate poems and submit them individually to magazines. Instead, I write each poem, knowing that it will be part of a collection. Thus, before starting to write the poems, I have already thought about the main lines, the backbone of my poetic narrative.

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Her poetic story in Umbilical Cord centers around the birth and first year of her son Malek’s life. Along the way, Namir has a lot to say about her love for her husband Tarn and her respect for her sister-in-law Kiran, who bore Malek at birth and is still part of their extended family. But the emotional focus of this book links Namir’s joyful bond with his son and his painful but deep bond with his bewildered and somewhat homophobic father.

This collection is a heartfelt tribute to love in its many forms. It reflects the author’s courage, even in the face of death threats and insults, to celebrate his loving and chosen family. And that courage must flourish in a world that is still far from accepting same-sex marriages like those of Hasan and Tarn.

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