Iraqi-Canadian author Hasan Namir 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 featured on Huffington Post, Shaw TV, Airbnb, in the film God in Pink: A Documentary, Breakfast Television Toronto, and CTV Morning Live Saskatoon. He was recently named a writer to watch by CBC Books. He is also the author of poetry book War/Torn (2019, Book*Hug Press) and children's book The Name I Call Myself (2020, Arsenal Pulp Press).
Describe yourself in three words.
Ambitious. Kind. Creative.
How would those who love and respect you describe you?
Emotional. Loving. Creative.
What helps you feel safe and grounded?
Having my family around me – Tarn (my husband), Malek (our son) and my family from both sides. They are my sanctuary and my comfort. They provide me with love and safety, and keep me feeling grounded always.
How would you define trauma?
Trauma is a phase in which we feel helpless and overwhelmed with conflicting feelings. Trauma makes us feel as though we are trapped and are unable to cope with life. It’s a feeling that causes ongoing distress and lack of sleep. It’s the feeling of being stuck in a maze, of feeling lost, of feeling unsure where to turn and whom to turn to. It’s that moment when you’re crying, but you’re unsure why you’re crying.
How has trauma contributed to your suffering?
In the past, I went through family loss; at the time I did not have some of my closest family members around me and I was not able to see them at all, which is what I really needed at the time. I felt as though I was drowning or suffocating. At times I felt like I was completely lifeless and hopeless. For a while I felt sorry for myself and in a way that contributed to even more feelings of sadness.
How has suffering contributed to your evolution or personal awakening?
Though I previously felt trapped in my own depression, it was like a wakeup call for me at the same time. To add, having my husband Tarn by my side during these times helped me feel less like I was drowning and helped me bring my head above the water in order to breathe and float. For a long time, I tried to escape my reality. I resorted to temporary happiness thinking that it would solve all my problems. It didn’t. I realized that I had to address reality and acknowledge my situation before I was able to heal. That whole process of awareness and acceptance really helped me begin to shine a light that guided me out of the tunnel of darkness. It paved the way for my own reconciliation with everything.
How has suffering contributed to allowing you to align with your highest creative self, if it has?
Writing has helped my own mental health in ways I never thought were achievable – specifically writing poetry. For me, poetry is a deeply personal journey. I write about my feelings and my experiences. With my poetry, I can tell stories that are too painful to be told elsewhere. When I was at my lowest, I would write and write and write some more. The writing process itself began to heal me; it allowed me to put my trauma into words. As I shed my tears, my words would flow… sometimes I didn’t even think about it, they just came naturally. My laptop was one of my best friends at the time. I spent a lot of time interacting with it, and I used it to write my stories – the painful and beautiful stories that needed to be written. I still do to this day.
What words of wisdom would you offer to those who are stuck in suffering that is similar to what you have been through in the past?
The biggest piece of advice I can offer to others is to take a moment and breathe. Look around you, and breathe some more. Remember your feelings are valid and you have every right to express them in whatever form is most comfortable to you. Instead of trying to escape reality, my advice is to acknowledge and address your situation as that is the first step in healing. Talk to someone about it. Reach out to your loved ones – to your friends or your chosen family. Don’t be ashamed to talk about your situation. You might be surprised to discover that many others are dealing with similar things. Also, don’t be so hard on yourself. Love yourself and know that you are special. Though what you are going through may seem like an entrapment that is endless, it will all pass. Stay strong. All my love and good wishes to you.