I hadn’t understood
what it meant to be different, to stand
out as the worst of humanity, worse
than the gutter, worse than the worst
sin. Like a dagger in its scabbard, pushing
at the skin, I saw half my soul, waiting
on the other side
– from “The Worst” by Hasan Namir
In his Power of Poetry essay for The Poetry Question, Hasan Namir refers to himself as “hyphenated.” And he is. He is caught between the Middle East and America. He is caught between family and ideology. He is caught between who he loves and the shame he feels from, and for, those who don’t agree. He is caught between wanting to be himself and a culture that does not always accept him for who he is. That said, as you move through War/Torn, his newest collection from Book*Hug Press, you find a speaker who becomes stronger with each piece, with each move, with each partner, and with himself.
Namir does not hide. These pieces are honest, harrowing, and at times heavy enough to put it down. You have to be ready for this collection. You have to prepare to feel. You have to be able to breathe. You have to know that War/Torn is a journey and a metaphor that digs well beyond the surface.
There are no apologies in this collection. There is no facade of hiding one’s true self. There’s only “The Story of a Man” who has found that in order to be a man, he has to find his own road, take his own risks, deal with all the hate from himself and others, and find a way to win the war.