Mariama J. Lockington
I am a published writer, educator, and nonprofit professional with a deep hunger for texts that centralize the experiences of women, especially women of color. As a voracious reader I sometimes feel I do not have the space (or time) to process some of the amazing books I am reading. Building off of the Audre Lorde quote, “Women are powerful and dangerous,” the BUBC is my latest project to connect with the “powerful and dangerous” women in my extended network and build community through literature.
I have a Masters in Education from Lesley University and a MFA in Poetry from San Francisco State University, and I have been teaching creative writing and literature to K-12 students, young professionals, and adults for the past ten years. I believe in the power of storytelling and I am constantly seeking ways to highlight the voices of marginalized and othered communities. I have edited and contributed to many youth-centered book projects including: Be Honest and Other Advice from Students Across the Country (2011, The New Press), Growing Our Hearts and Brains: Poems on love, technology, and success (2014, 826NYC), Chicken Makes the Ice Cream Taste Better: Stories on Food and Community, (2015, 826NYC), and my co-authored lesson plan “The Science of Superpowers” is included in STEM to Story: Enthralling and Effective Lesson Plans for grades 5th-8th (2015, Jossey-Bass).
I am a two-time National Collegiate SLAM team member, A San Francisco Literary Death Match Champion (Episode 46), a Voices of Our Nation Arts writers workshop alum, and I have been published in a number of literary journals including the Washington Square Review: Issue 36, Read America (s) Anthology, The Comstock Review, and Bozalta Magazine. I currently work for a health nonprofit in Lansing, Michigan where I live with my partner and our dapple-haired dachshund, Henry. You can find more of my work here.
To contact Black Unicorn Book Club about future book club sessions, private workshops, speaking engagements, etc. please email blackunicornbookclub(at)gmail(dot)com.
“As a result of Mariama’s guided facilitation of our book club meeting, our discussion was deliciously robust! Not only did I have an opportunity to share my thoughts on the book, I was exposed to ideas that I hadn’t considered, thanks to the other brilliant participants. The Black Unicorn Book Club is a place for compassionate, open, and critical thinkers. It’s a place to dig into the fiber of a book, and in doing so, it creates the space to dig a bit deeper into one’s self.” —Yalie Kamara, Writer/Educator, Bloomington, Indiana
“Reading God Help the Child with the BUBC in April was a moving experience. Each person in the group prompted me to consider Morrison’s writing and the themes of the novel in new ways. The two hours flew. I logged off wishing we had more time together with the ability to sit down, share a meal, and keep discussing the writing and our ideas. I’m looking forward to all the books in the series. Mariama is a great facilitator; I enjoyed her prompts and optional writing exercises.”— Erin Archuleta, restaurant owner and a co-founder of the #Fempire, San Francisco, CA
“I had so much fun being part of BUBC with Mariama and the fiercely intelligent, sensitive, and hilarious group of women who gathered together to discuss Toni Morrison’s, God Help the Child. Mariama’s thoughtfulness, imagination, and attention to detail was really impressive leading up to our meeting day. From sending guiding questions for consideration while we read, to links of various kinds of media that are in conversation with the book in various ways (a Nina Simone song and a Lupita Nyong’o speech, among others – amazing!), to a writing prompt to get our minds really fired up. And because she’s just that kind of lady, Mariama sent a recipe for a custom #ToMo cocktail inspired by the book for folks to make on their own and sip on during our meeting together, if they felt so inclined. Mariama’s efforts created an intellectually, creatively, culturally, politically and spiritually engaged way to experience this book that I would have never had otherwise. The amazing thing about such a well-rounded pre-meeting and meeting experience, was that it created a connection between all the participants, most of whom had never met in real life, so that it pretty much felt like I had a super fun and smart group of friends hanging out with me in my own living room, even though we were hundreds and thousands of miles apart. Our conversation during the meeting was challenging and funny and intense and surprising. I left feeling curious, energized, and inspired to make more space in my life for literary discussion, something there’s just never enough of outside of classroom environments. I think Mariama’s love for literature — that giddy kind some of us get infected with as kids and, thank goddess, never lose — and experience as an educator make her the perfect host and facilitator. I would recommend being a part of BUBC to anyone who loves literature, smart ladies, and a real good time. I can’t wait for the next one!” —Liz Latty, writer, educator, Brooklyn, NY
“Black Unicorn Book Club enabled a return to the magical space that reading holds but that often eludes us in the day-to-day of adult life. I felt an intellectual rejuvenation talking with the other amazing, insightful women who participated and felt so well guided by Mariama’s facilitation. It also gave me all the right reasons and motivation to finally crack into my desired reading list. I cannot wait for the next installment!” — Neekta Khorsand, writer, 826DC Programs Manager, Baltimore, MD
Testimonials— Teaching Style
“I’ve really enjoyed working with Mariama—her warmth, flexibility, and passion for writing and education have made her a good friend and mentor, and her work has done awesome things for our students, who need and deserve space to be recognized as writers.” —Sabine Chishty, 10th grade English teacher, Bronx, NY
“Thank you for coming and working with my ENG 413 college students. I asked them to reflect on your “Audre Lorde: Litanies of Survival” workshop and this is what they had to say:
‘I think the thing I enjoyed the most from this workshop was the composition of litanies for survival. I felt really inspired while writing and have continued into writing more poetry in my free time. I wish that we had more time in class to work on the poems/discuss them, but overall, I really enjoyed the exercise.’
‘What I enjoyed most about the workshop was the chance to consider a potentially teachable form of poetry and practice it myself. If we had one more hour, I would want to talk with you more about how you’ve engaged in conversations with others about your poetry.’
‘This workshop came at a very poignant time in my life as I had just suffered a huge loss. It was therapeutic to be able to convert that loss into poetry and it inspired me to believe that I could write poetry and that anyone could write poetry. I think it’s very likely that I would bring some form of “Litany for Survival” into my classroom. Exploring many types of poetry writing would’ve been great given more time.’
THANK YOU for coming in and sharing your stories, poetry, and insight with us. I am so excited that you were able to bring a fresh new perspective to these future teachers. The students gained a great deal from you, especially since some of them had never heard of Audre Lorde. I loved the entire experience.” — Dr. Butler, Assistant English Professor, Michigan State University
Mariama is one of the industry’s biggest proponents of student writing and publications. I was so grateful that my students had the opportunity to work with her on our school’s literary & arts magazine. Because of Mariama’s expertise, our student editorial board and our entire school community, was able to experience the power of putting pen to paper for publication. Mariama’s positive energy and enthusiasm is captivating and contagious. She inspires her students to accept the challenges of thoughtful reading and writing and she invites them to fully immerse themselves in the task at hand. Students leave her workshops feeling accomplished and moved. Working with her has been one of the highlights of my teaching career. —Rebecca Eisenberg, 10th grade English Teacher, New York, NY.