This year I am celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the publication of my debut book the memoir Migrations of the Heart. I consider the publication of that book to be the official launching of my career as writer and teacher of writing and literary activist. Forty years is a long time.
When I realized last year that the fortieth anniversary of being Marita Golden author was pending, I decided to celebrate and to invite others to celebrate with me. This life that I dreamed and created has given me so much, so many stories to write, students to teach, and communities to build.
In a sense, it has all been part of a piece, a beautiful quilt that I learned how to make with no instruction manual, only a willingness to be possessed by stories, a commitment to hard work, a sense that I had to, with my writing complicate and expand the narratives about my life and about Black life. All this writing has given me a gift for myself, a voice for myself, a gift for others and I have been told by readers, a voice for others.
Twenty-two books! Good lord, how did I write them? All I remember is getting called and reporting for duty and staying the course until the story taught me how to tell it. Oh, the experiences, a phone call from Audre Lorde when I was young gifted and black and twenty-three living in New York, a phone call in which she told me that having read my poems I had talent and to keep writing. Having lunch with Toni Morrison the next year as I interviewed her for an article for Essence Magazine about Black feminism and in her presence witnessing a Black woman in full possession of herself and her voice.
Living in Nigeria for four years and unexpectedly finding in that life the seeds of a book that would speak to so many over the years. Writing Long Distance Life inspired by my mother’s great migration from Greensboro, North Carolina and as I wrote the book hearing her voice every day I wrote. Marrying the second and last time a man who believed in me as a writer more than I believed in myself. Writing about colorism when there were few words in the public arena on the subject that offered healing from colorist wounds. Being called and inspired to create the Hurston/Wright Foundation and to work for over two decades with people all over the world who loved Black literature and knew we needed more Black writers. Travelling all over the world from Jamaica to Turkey to Israel to Antigua because I was a writer. Being blessed to earn money from writing that fulfilled my and my family’s dreams. Receiving recognition from the community of writers who are my tribe for my stories and activism. Finding that if I loved to write I also loved to teach writing to others as we shared the magical power of language and its ability to break barriers and join us soul to soul. I dreamed a world and that world came true!
Migrations of the Heart is a story of how I found my place and my voice in the world. It’s a story that is as relevant today as when it was first published. Start the new year by connecting with me through this book >>
Marita Golden is the author of over 20 works of fiction and nonfiction. She is Co-founder and President Emerita of the Zora Neale Hurston/ Richard Wright Foundation. As a teacher of writing, she has served as a member of the faculties of the MFA Graduate Creative Writing Programs at George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University and served as a Distinguished Visiting Writer in the MA Creative Writing Program at John Hopkins University, and at the University of the District of Columbia. She has taught writing workshops nationally and internationally to a variety of constituencies and is a writing coach, workshop presenter, and literary consultant.