Mariahadessa Ekere
Award Winning Children’s Author
Poet and Interdisciplinary Artist
Travels from: Rhode Island

“Tallie honors the many ways children define happiness…A handsome and helpful primer on self-reflection and a mirror to urban black and brown children, this joyous title could be well paired with Samantha Berger’s What If.” — School Library Journal, starred review

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is an interdisciplinary artist, curator, and a PhD candidate in the Theatre Arts and Performance Studies program at Brown University. She is the author of the award-winning children’s book Layla’s Happiness(Enchanted Lion Books), and the poetry collections Strut (Agape Editions) and Karma’s Footsteps (Flipped Eye). Tallie’s Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation (Grand Concourse Press) gathers her advice to writers dedicated to social justice in epistolary form and was named a “Spectacular Book of 2015” by Split This Rock.

Tallie’s poetry is the subject of the film “I Leave My Colors Everywhere.” She is also featured in “Tell Me Another Story,” a film produced by the Ezra Jack Keats Foundation about the importance of inclusivity in children’s literature.

Tallie is the mother of three galaxies who look like daughters.

Mariahadessa Ekere's Featured Titles

Layla’s Happiness

Enchanted Lion |

★ 2020 Ezra Jack Keats Award Winner for Illustration
★ 2020 Ezra Jack Keats Honor for Writing
★ A Bank Street College of Education Best Children’s Book of 2020

“Affirmations of black childhood abound, and whimsical wishes float like dandelion fluff. Equally as imaginative as the lyrical text, Corrin’s boldly colored, textured illustrations beautifully capture the buoyant spirit of Layla, a brown girl exuding confidence, comfortable in her own skin—indoors and out. Well-illustrated poetry of the best kind that will leave sunshine in its wake.” STARRED REVIEW, Kirkus

Seven-year-old Layla loves life! So she keeps a happiness book. What is happiness for her? For you?

Spirited and observant, Layla is a child who’s been given room to grow, making happiness both thoughtful and intimate. It’s her dad talking about growing-up in South Carolina; her mom reading poetry; her best friend Juan, the community garden, and so much more. Written by poet Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie and illustrated by Ashleigh Corrin, this is a story of flourishing within family and community.


Agape Editions |

Strut, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie’s second book of poetry, emerges from an intense engagement with our historical moment. These poems are just as much about injustice, struggle, and survival as they are about transcendence and love. Readers will find themselves immersed in the intersections that connect climate change, capitalism, genocide, racism, misogyny, and mental illness. This work honors the gorgeousness of life, even while bearing witness to the ugliness that accompanies–and often seems to permeate–the human experience. Strut is a celebration of self-acceptance, ancestry, love, sensuality, and resilience. It’s not a book of answers, but a blessed, influenced weaving together of shadow and light.

Karma’s Footsteps

flipped eye publishing limited |

Somebody has to tell the truth sometime, whatever that truth may be. In this, her début full collection, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie offers up a body of work that bears its scars proudly, firm in the knowledge that each is evidence of a wound survived. These are songs of life in all its violent difficulty and beauty; songs of fury, songs of love. ‘Karma’s Footsteps’ brims with things that must be said and turns the volume up, loud, giving silence its last rites. “Ekere Tallie’s new work ‘Karma’s Footsteps’ is as fierce with fight songs as it is with love songs. Searing with truths from the modern day world she is unafraid of the twelve foot waves that such honesties always manifest. A poet who “refuses to tiptoe” she enters and exits the page sometimes with short concise imagery, sometimes in the arms of delicate memoir. Her words pull the forgotten among us back into the lightning of our eyes.” -Nikky Finney



Layla’s Happiness reading, Q&A, activities and crafts


Writing Workshops

College Age +

Poetry Readings

Read from Karma’s Footsteps and Strut, share letters from Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation and have a Q&A session with the audience members afterwards.


Unlimited Life

So much of what we do is based on what we have been taught we should be doing at certain points in our lives. But whose life is this? This talk explores my uncommon path being an artist and returning to school for graduate studies in midlife as a mother of three. This talk aims to encourage people to identify their dreams, what they hope their legacies will be and urge them to move toward them.



PLAYshops involve more embodied activities and games to give adults room to create in ways that are freeing and focus more on process than product. We combine writing, collage and movement to move past our inner critic, access our creative visions to create scenes, settings, characters, dialogue and poems.

Mariahadessa’s Blogs Link

Mariahadessa’s Media Link

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Layla’s Happiness
★2021 Rhode Island Great Reads Book
★2020 Ezra Jack Keats Award, for illustration
★2020 Ezra Jack Keats Honor, for writing
★3-Time AALBC Bestselling Book
★Starred review Kirkus
★Starred review School Library Journal
★Brain Pickings Best Books 2019
★Inclusive Storytime Best Books of 2019
★Best Children’s Books of the Year 2020 Edition, Bank Street

Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation
Split This Rock Spectacular Book of 2015

Media Kit

By clicking the link below you will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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