On Feb. 12, 2013, Bellevue College opened the doors of N-201 to welcome a famous author, Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy, to speak about her book and how it directly relates to her life. Saloy is not only the author of “Red Beans and Ricely Yours: Poems.” She is also an associate professor of English at Dillard University as well as the director of the creative writing program.
“Red Beans and Ricely Yours: Poems” has received a plethora of recognition. In 2006, Saloy won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize in poetry for 2005. In addition, Saloy was chosen as a finalist for the Morgan Prize from Storyline Press.
Saloy is one of the fortunate few to have survived Hurricane Katrina, but to this day everything in her life is still affected by the tragic event that happened many years ago. Seven and a half years has passed and she still hasn’t been able to move back into her home in New Orleans. To date, she’s moved 15 times and has had 12 addresses. “My neighborhood is still a food desert,” she said.
Saloy’s appearance at BC was her reading passages and poems from her novel as well as telling her personal stories that inspired her to write the contents of the book comprised of Along with this, Saloy describes the novel as “celebrating culture before Hurricane Katrina” and giving readers an insight to the Creole glossary.
During the lecture, Saloy dedicated part of her time to reading passages about her father and mother and how they impacted her life while she was growing up. “We work like we don’t need the money, we love like we’ve never been hurt,” Saloy read from one of her poems, reminiscing on a talk that she had had with her father.
Growing up, Saloy said that she remembered not being as dark as her mother, and she received the advice, “Chocolate was good, don’t matter if it’s light or dark and don’t you forget it.”
Between reading out of her novel and answering questions, Saloy also sang many songs that she had present throughout her book. Not quietly, either. She sang loud and even encouraged the audience to join in with her, which they eventually did.
The audience was comprised of varying individuals, and two of those individuals were Ashley and Hally Davis who are BC students. “We would definitely come again if she came back. Our grandparents are from Louisiana, so it’s fun to learn about our culture from someone else,”
Elisel Gonzalez, BC sophomore, said, “My favorite parts of the lecture were the poems. I thought they were really fun and it was cool how she would just start singing out of nowhere. It was really insightful.”
“A collection on the culture. I felt others had missed the mark. An entire collection just on New Orleans culture is what I was hoping to accomplish,” Saloy said regarding the purpose of her novel. Concluding the lecture, Saloy closed with questions and a reminder to “Follow your passion. That is not a cliché.”