Vikki Leathers is the creator and owner of M&BB’s, LLC and an elementary school Reading Interventionist. She has been an educator in Durham, North Carolina for more than 10 years teaching English and Language Arts to secondary, middle and elementary school students.
Writing poetry became a purposeful passion while Vikki was a student of English and Creative Writing at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. She and a few of her classmates started a campus literary magazine, Mealie Fields, to create a platform for diverse writers who had been consistently omitted from the university’s existing publication. For more than 30 years, Vikki has been writing poetry to give voice to her experiences as a God-made black woman, mother of three, wife-in-love, daughter of a queen and an educator. She opened her business in 2019 to provide creative experiences for her community and to spread the joy and healing power of creative expression.
Q and A with Publisher Arilia Winn
Arilia: So Vikki, how did your journey as a poet begin?
Vikki: My grandmother bought me Shel Silverstein’s book of poetry, “Where the Sidewalk Ends” in 1982; I was 10 years old and I’ve loved poetry since. In high school, I learned of poets like Maya Angelou, Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, James Baldwin, and Nikki Giovanni.
Arilia: Those are pretty influential poets! Was writing poetry something you always wanted to pursue?
Vikki: I started a business in 2019, M & BB’s LLC. We facilitate creativity by designing experiences and events to inspire people to get together, get creative, make something they love! I hope to launch an afterschool program next year that will integrate math, science, and art.
I want to solely surrender to a creative life; I want to wake up every day promoting and pursuing creativity.
Arilia: Ok, so who or what motivated you to write poems?
Vikki: From the time I was a small child, my mother always encouraged me to be creative. She was more of an analytical person, a true left-brained Scorpio woman. Nonetheless, she honored my aquarian spirit and recognized and valued my desire to write, paint, draw, and express myself creatively. Her delight in my poetry gave me the courage to continue to write poetry.
Arilia: I have to ask, have you published your poems into a book?
Vikki: I have not published my poetry in a book, but this is a life-long goal.
Arilia: So does that mean you currently working on any new projects?
Vikki: With the impact of COVID-19, I am working to re-envision my business to incorporate creative online experiences.
Arilia : Very nice! So where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Vikki: I hope that my business is thriving and I am a published poet. I hope to be writing a book that weaves together my experiences as a parent and my family’s history.
Arilia: Ok, what does being a poet mean to you?
Vikki: Writing poetry is a part of who I am. My poems will be a part of my legacy, proof that I walked this Earth and felt what I felt, lived a life worth remembering, and thought deeply about the people I’ve loved.
Arilia: Here’s a fun question. What’s your favorite quote and who’s it by?
Vikki: One of my favorite quotes is by Dr. Maya Angelou, “If you are always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
I despise the thought of simply being normal. I implore my own three children and my students to live as their authentic selves–to live any other way diverts from your divine purpose.
Arilia: Last question, if you could co-author with anyone – dead or alive- who would it be and why?
Vikki: I wish I could co-author a book with my mother and grandmother (both have passed on). I’d love to write our family’s story so generations to come would know their roots are embedded in love, strength, faith, determination, and grace.