For Marita Golden writing is “the way I live in and respond to the world.” It is also a calling and a mission. A writer who has distinguished herself as a master of the genres of fiction and nonfiction, Marita Golden has said, “I write from the center of my experience as a Black woman, and I know that story speaks to everyone and is universal.”
Growing up in Washington, D.C. Golden’s gifts as a writer were recognized when she was a child and encouraged by her parents. Her mother told her when she was twelve, that one day she was going to write a book. From poems and articles in the high school and college newspapers, Golden moved in her twenties to free-lance writing for publications as diverse as Essence and the New York Times. But she longed to move beyond journalism and write stories that only she could imagine and tell.
Marita Golden’s marriage to a Nigerian and her subsequent experience living in Nigeria for four years formed the basis for her debut book the memoir Migrations of the Heart. Because of its exploration of the issues of cultural identity, and the impact of the social and political changes of the late 1960’s, Migrations of the Heart has gained legions of passionate fans and is one of several of Golden’s books that have been adopted by colleges and universities for campus wide reading projects and for use in courses from African-American literature to sociology.
The themes of the intersection of the personal and the political, the bonds of friendship among Black women, and the stresses on and resilience of the Black family are frequent themes in Golden’s fiction and nonfiction. In Saving Our Sons: Raising Black Children in a Turbulent World and Don’t Play in the Sun One Woman’s Journey Through the Color Complex Marita Golden used a technique she calls “communal autobiography” to explore the taboo, controversial subjects of the impact of violence on the lives of young Black males and the legacy of color consciousness. “I like to think of myself as a literary disturber of the peace” Golden says. “A good narrative, whether it is fiction or nonfiction requires that you look at and experience the world with new eyes and a new heart.”
Marita Golden is the author of 17 works of fiction and nonfiction. The Black Caucus of the American Library Association awarded Marita Golden an Honor Award for GUMBO an anthology of fiction by African American writers which she edited with the late E. Lynn Harris, and the Literary Award for Fiction for her novel After. Pulitzer Prize winning author Alice Walker said of Migrations of the Heart, “It is a book all women will find useful and compelling and all men who love women will find disturbing.” Marita’s novel The Wide Circumference of Love was released in March 2017.
As a teacher of writing, Marita Golden has held appointments at George Mason University, and Virginia Commonwealth University, where she served as a member of the MFA Graduate Creative Writing programs. She has also taught at Emerson College, The University of Lagos (Nigeria), Roxbury Community College, and American University. She served as Writer in Residence at the University of the District of Columbia, in Washington, D.C. Marita has served as Distinguished Visiting Writer in the MA Creative Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University.
Marita Golden has lectured on the topic of literature, women’s studies, African-American Studies and African American literature nationally and internationally. She has read from her work and held writer-in-residence positions at many schools, including Brandeis University, Hampton University, Simmons College, Columbia College, William and Mary, Old Dominion University and Howard University. She has also been a guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and has appeared on ABC’s Primetime Live. Articles and essays by Marita Golden have appeared in Essence Magazine, The New York Times and The Washington Post.
As a literary activist Marita Golden founded and served as the first president of the Washington-D.C. based African-American Writers Guild. In 1990, with Clyde McElvene she co-founded the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation, which presents the nation’s only national fiction award for college writers of African descent and an annual summer writer’s workshop for Black writers, Hurston/Wright Writers’ Week, as well as the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for published Black writers. She now serves as President Emeritus of the organization.
Among the awards Marita Golden has received in recognition of her writing career and her work as a literary cultural worker are The 2002 Distinguished Service Award from the Authors Guild, The 2001 Barnes and Noble Writers for Writers Award presented by Poets and Writers; an honorary Doctorate from the University of Richmond; induction into the International Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent at the Gwendolyn Brooks Center at Chicago State University; Woman of the Year Award from Zeta Phi Beta; and a Distinguished Alumni Award from American University. Her novel AFTER received 2007 Fiction Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and was nominated for Outstanding Literary Work Fiction by the 38th annual NAACP Image Awards. AFTER also won the 2008 Maryland Author Award from the Association of Maryland Librarians.
Marita Golden holds a B.A. from American University in American Studies and English and a Masters Degree from the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.
The Washington Post said of After “Golden ably walks the line between predictable morality tale and compelling personal journey.”
Of Saving Our Sons Chicago Tribune writer Clarence Page said “Marita Golden has captured the special pain that shadows the joy of Black parenthood in these turbulent times. Elegantly written this book is a breakthrough.”