Blog — The Cyber HEArt Era Begins!

by Leslie Anne Mcilroy

One thing HEArt cofounder Dan Morrow and I have always agreed upon is that HEArt was the best thing we ever did. From 1997 to 2002 we poured every last bit of energy, sweat and love into publishing the nation's first and only journal of literature and art devoted to fighting discrimination and promoting social justice. The work was powerful, the artists brave and unflinching, and the purpose more meaningful than anything we'd ever pursued. Unfortunately, time and money became increasingly hard to come by and one of us got pregnant, so with great sadness, but knowledge that we had given voice to some of the most significant contemporary art & literature, we let HEArt go.

Ten years later, recounting the import of that five years to Program Officer Germaine Williams at the Pittsburgh Foundation, we were invited to submit a grant to relaunch HEArt online, or as Germaine said, "We could get behind that." So this time, with encouragement from funders, lots more experience and an urgency in our culture benchmarked by DOMA, Trayvon Martin, Occupy and Sandy Hook, we began again.

That was more than a year ago and today here we are, with thanks to the A.W. Mellon Educational & Charitable Trust Fund of the The Pittsburgh Foundation and partnership with our fiscal agents, the New Hazlett Theater, bringing you HEArt Online.

Which brings me to the contents of the launch, which we are thrilled to present — a mix of some of our favorite artists from HEArt's original print launch and new artists we are thrilled to have discovered. Although everything is outstanding, let me draw your attention to a few pieces in particular.

First, Tim Seibles' "One Turn Around the Sun," which is a glorious poetic call to action that rattles us from apathy and challenges us to own the role we play in our lives and our culture. Are we participating or following? Are we thinking, feeling, moving, changing? Are we merely existing? I hate long poems, but this 11-page manifesto I have read again and again and again because it is uncompromising in its desire to make the world a place we can stand and stand in. It's the kind of poetry that has legs. It runs and fights and dances and bites. It's not going to be tied down or quieted. I dare you to try and put clothes on it, to read it and come away unchanged.

Then, there is the interview with Jan Beatty by Mary Kate Azcuy re: Jan's poem "Shooter," a controversial poem that witnesses sexual violence against women. Jan pulls no punches. She makes no apologies. She has been for many years my guide in what the poem can do to that prose can't. It is the image, the line breaks, the risk taking, the bravery, the truth, the heart. It's all here, it's all expertly crafted and its undeniable. I love Jan. Double dare.

Finally, there is the element of rock star. I got to do an interview with one of my all-time new favorite poets, Jericho Brown. OK, so he didn't have a new poem for us to publish, but he was hugely generous and responsive in giving us an interview which oozes his humility while effortlessly showcasing his keen mind and insightful perspective. AND he let us reprint one of my favorite Jericho poems, "Collosseum" from The New Yorker. Just what is political poetry? Ask Jericho.

I could go on forever, but let me say there is nothing in this launch that should be skipped.  From Terrance Hayes' "Democracy Is Dying" and Stacey Waite's "When Butches Shoot Pool" to Scot Roller's photo essay "Freedom Riders" and our Music Editor, Mark Dignam's review of The Sessions Voices "Blackbird," it all meets our ridiculously high criteria for craft and cause.

And this is just this start. Our goal is to publish on a rolling basis, new work once a week, or at least every two weeks.  If you subscribe, you'll always know when something cool is up. In the meantime, please read, comment, share, promote, link, shout it from the rooftops. HEArt is back and the beat is stronger than ever! 

Leslie Anne Mcilroy, Poetry & Managing Editor