OHF Stories

In celebration of our tenth anniversary, contributors were invited to share recollections of Open Heart Forgery. We hope you enjoy their stories. To add your story, please use the submission form on the home page.

Mary Ellen Sullivan

I’ve been involved with Open Heart Forgery (OHF) since its beginning in 2010, when a small poetry reading group, fuelled by Donal Power’s passion, expanded quickly and outgrew its venue. I began Open Heart Farming, a special annual edition of OHF. From 2012 until 2017, Open Heart Farming published food and farming themed poems by residents of Nova Scotia. Open Heart Farming poems are poignant, passionate, political, reminiscent and frolicking, and the project strove to re-kindle a love for written and spoken poetry. We believed that submitting a poem should be a positive experience. We loved to share the stories of the poets and their poems, and give poets opportunities to read and perform their poems publicly. OHFarming poets have read at events and venues including farmers markets, libraries, and food gatherings.

I grew in confidence by reading my poems in public, which is an intimate and brave thing to do. I developed friendships with the poets. It was a time of great joy for me. Abundant gratitude to poetry harvesters Lois Brison Brown and Paul Brown, and thanks to members of the Open Heart Forgery committee for their skilled and generous input. We invite you to fall in love with Open Heart Farming and the poetry of the land!

Read poems from Mary Ellen Sullivan.

Valerie Broadnax

Aloha, I first discovered OHF when I first moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia over six years ago. Right away I fell in love with the publication, and it took me five years of enjoying OHF before finally submitting my first poem, which was a love letter to a secret love, and after successfully having my poem accepted by OHF, I decided to join the group for their once-a-month reading of poems. I was so nervous, but after reading my first poem in front of the group, I fell in love and became more aware of the romance of a secret language called poetry, and even though I haven’t submitted all my poems, I have been dedicated to writing more and creating my own collection, and on the occasion of course plan to submit more. As soon as possible I look forward to the next gathering to be able to read another poem. Thank you/Mahalo Open Heart Forgery for opening up more avenues and possibilities into the magical world of poetry, and giving opportunities for the creative mind to be heard.

Read poems from Valerie Broadnax.

Meg Baird

I love Open Heart Forgery. Its name and acronym, OHF, are cool and as honest as the work it publishes. I had the good fortune to be involved in the writing scene back in the days of its first editor, Donal Power. His work blew me away, and anyone who takes on a publication to help out other writers is one of the world’s best people. Georgia Atkin, its current editor, is equally inspiring and hard-working in support of the arts. I’m sure I speak for all Open Heart Forgery writers in thanking them and everyone who makes this publication possible and puts us on the map/web, so to speak!

Read poems from Meg Baird.

Emily Young

I first encountered OHF at my public library, and I thought it was amazing to see poetry that was local and brand new. I sent in a piece of poetry, and when I was accepted I felt so accepted. I finally found a poetry community that is thriving.

Read poems from Emily Young.

Jasmine Chater

My name is Jasmine Chater, and I am a junior high English teacher living in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I first started attending Open Heart Forgery launches in 2015, and began submitting poems that I wrote in my university creative writing class. I volunteered doing outreach with OHF for a year, and continued submitting poems and attending launches when I could. OHF is important because it allows us to share our voices and creative thinking out there with other Nova Scotians, and it helps foster our love of writing. It gave me the confidence to submit my work to other publications and allowed me to reflect on the uniqueness of my voice as a Lebanese Nova Scotian woman.

Read poems from Jasmine Chater.

Nicole Myers

I came across OHF quite by accident – a fortuitous accident. And, it was perfect timing. I was in dire need of community, like-minds, and dare I say it, support in my creative pursuits. It seemed the Universe listened. The creators exhibited such benevolence and attention for those of us who came forward to contribute and in that made such a difference for so many voices who longed to be heard.

Being an active participant fostered a confidence I didn’t even know I possessed. I learned how to trust my gut, my artist, the work I was doing, and come stand beside other writers instead of straying off to the sidelines as a lonely stage-scared observer.

A little kindness and faith go a long way. That, to me, was and is a powerful thing. It is what OHF gave me and continues to all these years later. It saved me.

Read poems from Nicole Myers.

David Du

In 2015, I was studying at NSCC. Ms Margarita (a guest speaker) came to NSCC to tell her story. In her speech, for the first time I heard about Open Heart Forgery. Two days later, she sent me an email, and told me that the last Thursday of every month, OHF had an open-mic poetry event. She encouraged me to come and join one of these events, so in August 2015, I joined OHF.

Since then OHF has impacted my life. I enjoy having a good time with OHF. There I read my poems and listen to others’ poems joyfully.

As I understand, OHF is open to all people who live in Nova Scotia and write poems with heart, copying our lives in poetic words. OHF selected my poem “Life Needs More Poetry” to put into the new anthology celebrating its 10 year anniversary. I hope I will be part of OHF forever.

Read poems from David Du.

Laureli Morphy

I first joined in 7th grade. It’s been an amazing experience, the people involved seem really cool, and it’s epic to see my work published!

Read poems from Laureli Morphy.

Harry Wayne Mah

huh?   . .   what’s this here library pamphlet?  . .     huh,  free poetry  . .  Never contemplated becoming an OHF contributor myself                                    ‘cuz I am not a real poet  but Fate gallops      mysteriously        curiously        gleefully                                   tee hee hee!  in that Destiny Derby – dragging my ah-so.sorry butt bounce bOunce BounCe                    barreling down the dirt raceTrack of Time  my darn boot’s caught in the stirrup!  help meeee!                            a-chokin’  gasp*   wheeeezee**    in  chaotic clouds of spiffy jiffys   . .    . .   pinwheelin’                             juices squirtin’  askew boxers shredded quill feather mangled  munchin’ miles of                               minutes delicately scented by Fate’s Flatulence    cough cough **   acccck!   . .      - -                             Clanking  Cosmos  jettisons square  cog   out the poop chute - -            … sent  hurtlin’                           thru manifold.Space.corridors    . .  rippin’ hOLes thru billowin’ Blanket.S of Time …. .                                    . .    .      .      .        .         .    . . .     .  .         ..      heeelllppp  mmeee .  .     .

Read poems from Harry Wayne Mah.

Harry Garrison

What was this Local Joe I kept hearing about in connection with poetry?  A downtown pub?  No.  Local Jo Café & Market on Oxford St.  The Left Bank Reading and the Open Heart Forgery journal.  I thought I was too late to “get in on the ground floor,” but I submitted work to the journal, and was published in it.  “…energize local writers from the grass roots up.”  (Written on the front of every issue.)  Meaning a perpetual ground floor for everyone.  My favourite fact about this time is that we outgrew the venue because the number of our attendees was breaking fire regulations!

Open Heart Forgery is a forum for poets to express themselves.  I’d like to think I’m part of making a positive contribution to our readers, that they find our poetry moving, entertaining, and amusing.

Read poems from Harry Garrison.