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Dillard University Professor Recipient of National Poetry Prize

Dillard University Professor Recipient of National Poetry Prize NEW ORLEANS
Dillard University associate professor of English and creative writing program director Mona Lisa Saloy has been named winner of the 2005 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. Her winning manuscript, “Red Beans and Ricely Yours,” was selected by National Book Award nominee Ishmael Reed.

“This poet has captured the street idioms and culture of New Orleans in a manner that challenges the tourist misconceptions about that fabulous city. She has also succeeded where many performance poets have failed. The poems are music to the ear as well as on the page,” Reed said.

The T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry is an annual award for the best unpublished book-length collection of poetry in English, in honor of Eliot’s considerable intellectual and artistic legacy. Truman State University Press offers $2,000 and publication of the winning collection. Four finalists will each receive $100. The purpose of the T.S. Eliot Prize is to publish and promote contemporary English language poetry, regardless of a poet’s nationality, reputation, stage in career or publication history.

“Winning a national prize is a great honor. I am so thankful that I made it past the many eliminations required to arrive at the final judge, Ishmael Reed, whose work I admire greatly,” said Saloy. “On top of that, for my work and my name to be spoken together with T.S. Eliot and Ishmael Reed nationally, I have a thankful heart.”

Saloy has been published in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, and occasionally writes and reads commentary on the African American 7th Ward community in New Orleans for WWNO-FM. Her poems have appeared in The Black Scholar, The Haight Ashbury Literary Journal, Dark Waters, Louisiana Laurels and many other publications.

“I hope that my work collectively speaks to the life of the people here, in New Orleans, how we are to one another, the way we insinuate culture into every day — what makes families here unique, not the typical tourist expectation,” said Saloy.  “I also hope this work speaks to years of my attempts at marrying our folk strength into polished verse, resonant with a strong sense of craft, la joi de vivre and rhythms speaking to my African roots.”

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