Wombwell Rainbow Interviews
I am honoured and privileged that the following writers local, national and international have agreed to be interviewed by me. I gave the writers two options: an emailed list of questions or a more fluid interview via messenger.
The usual ground is covered about motivation, daily routines and work ethic, but some surprises too. Some of these poets you may know, others may be new to you. I hope you enjoy the experience as much as I do.
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, and in the film God in Pink: A Documentary. He was recently named a writer to watch by CBC books. Hasan lives in Vancouver with his husband. War/Torn (2019, Book*Hug) is his latest poetry book.
Twitter – @hnamir
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hasannamir
Book cover by Malcolm Sutton
1. What inspired you to write poetry?
I’ve been writing poetry since I was 12 years old. I used to write a lot of lyrical poems, and the act of writing poetry itself helped me stabilize my emotions. Poetry became an outlet for my emotions. I was writing poems when I felt sad, lonely. Or if I saw something sad on tv, I felt the need to write about it. After writing it, and regardless of whether or not I was satisfied with the poem, I would feel better emotionally.
2. Who introduced you to poetry?
When I was younger, I used to read Nizar Qabbani, a well known Syrian poet growing up in Iraq. His words inspired me. I knew I wanted to be a poet.
3. How aware were you of the dominating presence of older poets?
Quite aware because as much as I enjoyed writing poems, I enjoyed reading them. When I was living in Iraq, I was reading Arabic poetry. When I moved to Canada at the age of 11, I used to read a lot of books, however not so much poetry books. I would say, I read a lot more poetry during my high school and university years.
4. What is your daily writing routine?
I can’t say I have a specific writing routine, but I do try to write at least 3 days a week, and only in the evenings. I’m not a morning person so I’m most active and creative in the evening. I don’t have specific days that I write, it depends… one day, all of a sudden, I’ll have an idea to write a poem, so I start writing it. Other days, I’m revisiting current manuscripts I’m working on, such as fiction or poetry. If I have a deadline of some sort, then I’ll be working on that project first. I tend to prioritize deadlines always first. Or if I’m in the middle of writing a novel, then my focus tends to be mostly on finishing that novel.
5. What motivates you to write?
Writing keeps me sane and happy. So I’m always writing.
6. How do the writers you read when you were young influence you today?
As a poet, I am inspired by many poets. One of my favourite poets is Fred Wah and when I read his work, I learned of the word languageless, without language and I connected a lot with that because I felt languageless myself, I still feel that sometimes because I am always trying to reconcile between both English and Arabic. Writing my poetry book War/Torn, the process was of me to trying to find my language while searching for my own identity.
7. Who of today’s writers do you admire the most and why?
I have a lot of writers who are my colleagues that I admire and look up to so much. Also, I love reading books by different authors. But if I have to name one person, the person would be Jordan Scott, who is not only one of the most incredible poets I know personally, but also, he has been my mentor and friend all these years since 2012. My poetry book War/Torn started off as my English 472 final writing project. Jordan Scott was teaching that course. I admire him a lot because I learned so much from him and I look up to him so much.
8. Why do you write, as opposed to doing anything else?
I knew I wanted to write since I was 6 or 7. It’s always been my passion, the vessel of my dreams and creativity. I could have been a doctor if I wanted to, but no I wanted to be a writer and I’m so thankful that I get to do what I love the most.
9. What would you say to someone who asked you “How do you become a writer?”
If you are passionate about writing, then you should write. It’s as simple as that…write, write, write. You can take courses or do MFA, as that’s an option. It’s not mandatory, though. I’d say keep reading and writing. Also, attend writing events such as readings of authors, build a network, workshop with authors who share the same passion. Most importantly, don’t give up if you received rejections. Keep writing.
10. Tell me about the writing projects you have on at the moment.
I have just recently finished two novels, Son of Sodom and Felicity Island, which I hope to get published in the near future. I’m also working on a new poetry manuscript called Umbilical Cord and I have a children’s book entitled The Name I Call Myself, which will be published by Arsenal Pulp Press in the fall of 2020.