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Every generation of Americans has at least one moment where young adults are faced with the worst and best of humanity on a national scale. For McGraw, the demolition of the twin towers while occupied was that moment. In this debut collection, poet and journalist Leslie McGraw shares a risky mix of news, live interviews, and personal journal entries collected over twelve years, beginning on September 11, 2001. Grief captured in McGraw’s journal started as a way to deal with all the death seen on the news and morphed into a movement of self-discovery and personal healing that helped her deal with her own depression and loss. “During the first years, most of my journaling had to deal with my emotions – how I felt about this or that. Once I started to mine those journals, I found something deeper. Something beyond the flesh- my true self. In this twelve year process, I discovered beauty and dirt about myself. For instance, I realized that much of my longing to have someone to love and be loved back was really a longing to be heard, to be valued, to be shown affection and given acceptance.


Every generation of Americans has at least one moment where young adults are faced with the worst and best of humanity on a national scale. McGraw captures the feelings in those moments in Emergencies of the Heart.

This special 21st anniversary memorial edition includes some updated and new poems, as well as a timely foreword dedicated to the 267 Black Americans who were killed during the attacks at the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

“In Emergencies of the Heart, poet Leslie McGraw transforms her grief, anger, and confusion over the 9/11 attacks into some measure of comfort, clarity, and grace, through poems that insist on the indomitability of the human spirit. A generosity of heart pervades these poems that urge us to connect-whether it be to the beloved, to family, or to the larger human community. Because ultimately, as McGraw’s poems attest, the only true response to the emergencies of the heart is love. A heartfelt, courageous debut.”

Angela Narciso TorresRHINO PoetrySenior Editor and Author of What Happens is Neither and Blood Orange.

Discover a poignant reflection on love, identity, and societal expectations in “Roses Come In Black, Too.” Delve into a thought-provoking narrative that begins with Sojourner Truth’s timeless question, “Ain’t I a woman?” and unfolds into a candid exploration of Valentine’s Day and the overlooked experiences of black women.

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