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Open Heart Forgery

Halifax, NS

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Founder and Team

Donal Power, Founder, is a poet, musician and journalist who emerged phoenix-like from his squalid youth in North End Halifax to become founder of Open Heart Forgery and Temples Open Toronto.

Georgia Atkin, Editor, is a writer and freelance editor living in Halifax, NS. She holds a BA in English Literature and Environment, Sustainability & Society, and she has edited Open Heart Forgery since 2014. In her spare time, Georgia writes Wikipedia articles and vanquishes Sudoku puzzles.

Erica Allanach, Layout Designer, is a Haligonian and lifelong creative pursuiter. She has done the monthly issue layout for Open Heart Forgery since 2014.

Jim Hoyle, Communications, is a retired teacher, scientist and athlete more familiar with technical and sports writing than poetry. He lives in Dartmouth, NS, and is often to be found hiking, biking or downhill skiing.

Janet Brush, Secretary/Treasurer, was born in Halifax and has spent most of her life here. She pursued a career in accounting, a choice necessitated by the need to eat. Now she is free to cultivate her love of poetry, and to realize her life-long dream to study English literature.

Tim Covell, Website, is a technical writer, editor, and author of various short fiction and non-fiction pieces. He is working on several romance novels. Other interests include movie rating systems, cats, typewriters, limericks, and Oxford commas.

Tell us a bit about your press. How did you start? Who are your influences, in Canada and beyond? What is your mission?

Open Heart Forgery (OHF) was founded in February 2010 by Donal Power, a Halifax writer. Donal realized that there is a pressing need to encourage local writers by publishing their work in a way that everyone in the community can access, either freely downloadable or free to pick up around town. He began publishing free monthly poetry issues and hosting launch events with open mics. The submission rules were simple: (1) No hate, no sexism, no racism. (2) Maximum 28 lines long, 43 characters wide, to ensure enough space for lots of poems. (3) Only Halifax Regional Municipality residents, to keep OHF a local community journal.

OHF was Donal’s labour of love for four years before he moved away from Nova Scotia – since then, a team of volunteers has worked hard to keep it alive and flourishing. We have now published more than 95 monthly issues and two full-length anthologies, featuring the work of over 457 local writers, and we have also created a new online project, OHF Abroad, to showcase poetry submissions from outside the Halifax Regional Municipality. We host open mics and attend local literary festivals such as Word on the Street, and we are grateful to be part of a strong, vibrant local writers’ community. We aim to continue supporting the voices of both established and emerging poets in Nova Scotia and beyond.

What about small press publishing is particularly exciting to you right now?

Despite the difficulties presented by the global pandemic, Open Heart Forgery has had the internal capacity and financial stability to continue publishing local poetry throughout the crisis. As a small press sustained by donations and a team of hardworking, passionate volunteers, we have the capacity to remain grounded and stay connected with our local community. The sky is the limit for our future projects!

How does your press work to engage with your immediate literary community, and community at large?

We make our regular monthly issues freely available to print, download and share via our website. In non-pandemic times, our volunteers also distribute print issues through library branches, coffee shops and other community spaces. Open Heart Forgery’s strongest form of engagement with the literary community is probably our monthly issue launch and open mic events, traditionally held in local coffee shops: poets of all backgrounds come with friends and family to chat and share poetry. While some of our writers have prior experience being published, many others have seen their work in print or read it aloud to an audience for the first time as part of Open Heart Forgery, and we’ve seen writers of all ages grow in confidence as they make new friends through our open mic events and learn to trust their own voice.

What makes your publications special, needed, and/or unique?

We believe our publications are needed because they provide a place for writers to be accepted – no judgement, no criticism – and because we give people a chance to find their own voice.

How have the current multiple global crises impacted your work with the press?

When Nova Scotia went into lockdown in March 2020, we had to put our regular print issues of Open Heart Forgery on hold – we ordinarily distribute our issues in public spaces around the city, and because of the pandemic that was no longer practical. We also had to stop our in-person open mics and postpone the launch of our 10th anniversary anthology collection, which was originally planned for release in April. Open Heart Forgery has continued publishing issues and poems online, but we’re all sorely missing our in-person events, and we’ve had queries from community members about when we’ll be able to meet safely again.

Our monthly poetry issues often have a tendency to reflect current events and themes (whatever topics are on the minds of our poets right now). Over the past few months, we’ve seen poem submissions about COVID-19, isolation, lockdown, empty city streets, social injustice and the end of “normal.”

Open Heart Forgery 10th Anniversary Anthology cover

Open Heart Forgery 10th Anniversary Anthology
Edited by Georgia Atkin

This anthology collection features the poetry of 93 OHF poets and includes a special foreword by Canadian author George Elliott Clarke.

Open Heart Forgery issue cover

Open Heart Forgery regular issues
Edited by Georgia Atkin

This monthly journal – our founding publication – is available on our website to read, download and share. Check out brand new works by poets in the Halifax Regional Municipality!

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