by Jennifer Smarr
Passionate, touching, and quite literally music to your ears. The 2021 – 2023 Louisiana Poet Laureate Mona Lisa Saloy held a captive audience during the annual LSUA Cavanaugh Lecture series at Westside Regional Library in April. Her words of love, grief, family, and culture reach out to grasp one’s heart and fascinate the soul. Her songs are a testament to the cultural gumbo and superlative resilience of not only herself but the Crescent City that she calls home.
The Crescent City, New Orleans, is where Dr. Saloy lives and works as the Conrad N. Hilton Endowed Professor of English at Dillard University. As an award-winning author and folklorist receiving the T.S. Eliot Prize and the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award for her first book Red Beans & Ricely Yours, she continues to celebrate and document the Creole culture, speech, and family dynamics in works such as Second Line Home: New Orleans Poems and Chicago Quarterly Review, an Anthology of Black American Literature, Volume 33, 2021.
“I encourage you all to find your voice and tell your story, and just be authentic” is just a bit of the advice Dr. Saloy gave participants in a poetry workshop held at Main Library on April 21 st . Participants were excited to receive writing prompts, tips, and advice to advance their own writing skills. As the Louisiana Poet Laureate, Dr. Saloy travels throughout the state to ignite a passion for poetry and support the states flourishing poetry scene. You may check out her works in addition to a variety of poetry and writing resources through the Rapides Parish Library physical or digital collection by visiting www.rpl.org.
If you’re interested in enhancing your own creative writing skills, the Come Write In! monthly creative writing session led by Dianne Lundy or the Main Read/Write Club led by Garrett Burlew are open to writers of all skill levels at Main Library. Be sure to check the calendar of events on RPL’s website to discover the next meeting date!