Louisiana’s first female African American Poet Laureate Mona Lisa Saloy will visit Northwestern State University on Wednesday, March 9. Dr. Saloy will present a selection of her poetry at a reading to be held at 7 p.m. in the Varnado Hall Ballroom, 541 University Parkway, Natchitoches. Saloy will be introduced by members of the NSU Creative Writing faculty Dr. Andy Briseño and Dr. Rebecca Macijeski, who will also act as moderators for the Q&A following the reading.
In addition to her reading, Saloy will visit with the students in two of Macijeski’s creative writing courses. Students in English 4080, a class about the practice and profession of being a writer, will have a chance to join with Saloy for an informal conversation about her own experience as a writer. Students in Macijeski’s Advanced Poetry class will benefit from the opportunity to share their work with another working poet writing and living in the region.
“I am so excited that our students and the larger NSU and local community will get a chance to hear Saloy share her poems and herself,” Macijeski said. “Saloy is a poet that celebrates where and who she comes from. This celebration is evident in her work when you read it to yourself on a page, but it takes on a new life when you hear her words in her voice. Saloy is a generous poet, a musical poet, a poet who lives and breathes the places and people and memories she writes about. She writes not only to record and remember, but to sing.”
Gov. John Bel Edwards named Saloy Poet Laureate of Louisiana in 2021.
“Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy beautifully captures the culture and essence of Louisiana in her mesmerizing poetry,” Edwards said in a press release. “She understands the importance of using art to preserve our stories and pass them down for generations. As Louisiana’s poet laureate, she will continue to promote the art of poetry and inspire more people to pick up their pen and capture the world around them through verse.”
A native New Orleanian as well as a poet and folklorist, Saloy is the Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professor of English at Dillard University in New Orleans. Her first collection of poetry, “Red Beans & Ricely Yours: Poems” (Truman State University Press) won the 2005 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry as well as the Pen Oakland-Josephine Miles 16th Annual National Literary Award in 2006. Her second published collection, “Second Line Home: New Orleans Poems,” was published by Truman State University Press in 2014.
“Guided by the goal of the national Poet Laureate, I will seek to raise the consciousness to a greater appreciation of the reading and writing of poetry,” Saloy said. “I want to encourage folks to tell their unique Louisiana stories in verse, to honor ancestors, and look with hope into tomorrow.”
The program is sponsored by NSU’s Department of English, Foreign Languages, and Cultural Studies, the Louisiana Folklife Center and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity. For more information, contact Dr. Shane Rasmussen at (318) 357-4332.
The program is funded under a grant from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
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