Louisiana’s current Poet Laureate, Mona Lisa Saloy, will visit Northwestern State University for a poetry reading on Tuesday September 20 at 7 p.m. in the Varnado Hall ballroom at 541 University Parkway in Natchitoches. The event is free and open to the public. Those unable to attend in person can watch virtually through Microsoft Teams at www.nsula.edu/LFCEvent.
Saloy will be introduced by Dr. Rebecca Macijeski of the NSU Creative Writing faculty, who will also act as the moderator for the Q&A session following the reading. Earlier that afternoon Saloy will join with individuals from Watson Library and students and faculty from the Department of English, Languages, and Cultural Studies to participate in a Read Out in observance of Banned Books Week, an event put on by the American Library Association each year to raise awareness against censorship and for freedom of speech. Saloy will visit with Dr. Kent Peacock of the Creole Heritage Center, and later will discuss literary publishing with the editorial staff of Argus, NSU’s student-led art and literary magazine.
“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,” said Macijeski. “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.”
Governor 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,” said Edwards in the press release announcing her appointment. “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,” said Saloy. “I want to encourage folks to tell their unique Louisiana stories in verse, to honor ancestors, and look with hope into tomorrow.”
This program is sponsored by NSU’s Department of English, Languages, and Cultural Studies, the Louisiana Folklife Center, and the Office of Inclusion and Diversity. For more information, contact Dr. Shane Rasmussen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (318) 357-4332.
This 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.