Poets and authors will come together to share their works at the Vancouver Public Library, central branch on Jan. 22.
Hasan Namir, Jennica Harper, Chantal Gibson, and Alex Leslie will present their multi-genre works to kick off the first events of the 2020 Vancouver Writers Fest.
Poets in Conversation is the first Incite event of the new decade, an event series of the Writers Fest that showcases authors. One such author this year is Hasan Namir who released his second book War/Torn in April of 2019. Namir was born in Iraq and a lot of his work concerns being gay in a culture that absolutley forbids it. Through his work to bring this taboo topic to light, Namir won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Fiction for his first novel God in Pink at the 28th Lambda Literary Awards.
From Iraq to Canada
Born in Iraq in 1987 Namir moved to British Columbia in the late 90s when he was 11 years old. He spent many formative years in Iraq before settling in Canada, so memories of his homeland remain at the forefront of his mind. He can still picture the restaurants he frequented with his family and even the house he grew up in. The colorful images of Namir’s past helps paint a vivid landscape for the reader to explore while reading his work.
Namir has had a propensity for the written word since he was a young boy and followed that passion into adulthood by going to Simon Fraser University and receiving a BA in English.
“I’ve always loved writing since I was 6 or 7 years. I used to read a lot of books and I knew I wanted to be an author like the authors in the books I read,” says Namir, “I come from a family of writers. My grandpa was a poet and my aunt was a murder-mystery author, so I knew it was in my blood to be a writer.”
Bringing taboo topics to light
Namir published his first book God in Pink in 2015. It focuses around a young gay man named Ramy. Ramy is left to keep his sexuality a secret in war-torn Iraq as he navigates university life during the turbulent war times of the early millenia. God in Pink was released to critical praise and four years later, Namir is back to continue telling stories from his homeland.
War/Torn is a book of poetry that focuses on more than one story of hardship in Iraq. With this second work, Namir delves into territory he had previously left undiscovered in his first novel.
“God in Pink obviously has inspirations from my own life story. I wrote it as if I stayed in Iraq. War/Torn is a lot more personal, in which the body is me. I got to expand on the themes I introduced in God in Pink with War/Torn,” says Namir. “The book was focused mainly on the self vs. religion, sexuality vs. religion, the ‘I’ vs. ‘the other.’ There were poems that were the voices of the silenced, the voices of victims of violence because of their sexuality. The open space in poetry allowed me to freely explore these themes even further than I expected.”
A misunderstand nation
The stories within Namir’s works are ones that may not normally be told, or even allowed to be voiced. Being gay in an Islamic nation is illegal and people must keep that secret buried deep within them otherwise their lives are in jeopardy. Through these tales of perseverance, empathy crosses all social and cultural borders.
“Despite the fact that my home country is often War/Torn, people are still living their lives. They are safe and they are all right. The media tends to make things look a lot worse than what they really are,” says Namir. “With Islam, the media portrays it through the actions of very few individuals who don’t really represent the religion. Islam is a peaceful religion and the actions of the terrorists don’t represent Islam.”
For more information, please visit www.vpl.bibliocommons.com/events/5de97a0cab0e002e00e088cf