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    ISBN : 9781931112543

    October 2005

    120 pp.


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    ISBN : EAN 845011392

    October 2005

Red Beans and Ricely Yours

Mona Lisa Saloy

Winner of the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize

2006 Annual PEN Oakland-Josephine Miles Literary Award for Poetry.

These narrative poems celebrate the day-to-day lives of Black New Orleans and the rare magic in the culture. Vibrant with local history and color, these poems have a Black sensibility that reaches beyond boundaries, with folk sayings turned into polished verse. From Black talk to verse forms, Saloy never loses sight of the African American cultural roots of her community.

Mona Lisa Saloy captures the street idioms and culture of New Orleans that challenge the tourist misconceptions about that fabulous city. She also succeeds where many performance poets fail. These poems are music to the ear as well as on the page.

—Ishmael Reed, 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize judge

Southern poetry has long been a wonderful affair, a depiction of the heart’s struggle in that life way down there, all too often a white soiree, and male to boot, with poems as rigid as bankers’ suits, and change the grim subject of the day. But real poetry is so alive it sweeps along like the Mississippi in New Orleans, touching everything, its life and its will, knowable but not known. That’s why poems that please deeply and endure arise from place and character and forces, forging lives not always as we want them (though sometimes!), but as they have been and are. Mona Lisa Saloy’s prize-winning collection is black and female and southern and a literary event. The language is lively, the life is palpable, the observing eye is accurate and selective in distinctive ways, and the heart here is both true to the self and honest in its presentation. You don’t know New Orleans if you haven’t read this collection. You don’t know southern poetry if you haven’t read this book. You don’t know the fun serious poetry can be if you haven’t read Red Beans and Ricely Yours. Ms. Saloy does, yes she does.

—Dave Smith, Johns Hopkins University

Mona Lisa Saloy is not just a poet, she is a N’awlins woman. Her poems will put a smile on your face like a good bowl of gumbo. Some of them are better than oysters on fried bread. Mona Lisa is a woman with a Nat King Cole kiss of a name. Now I have her book of poems to hold in my hands. I don’t need hot sauce to make me shout—RED BEANS AND RICELY YOURS.

—E. Ethelbert Miller, Howard University

When she arrived unexpectedly on the heels of a mysterious visit from a midnight haint, her delighted father named her Mona Lisa and raised her in New Orleans in a house full of good love, good music, and good food. It should come as no surprise that her poems are as richly evocative as the taste of homemade gumbo and the sound of a second line band. Mona Lisa Saloy’s poems are love songs to family and freedom and the magic of the city that continues to define her work and her life. Red Beans and Ricely Yours is pure pleasure.

—Pearl Cleage, author of Babylon Sisters

Also by Mona Lisa Saloy: Second Line Home: New Orleans Poems.

Dr. Gary Clark interviews Mona Lisa Saloy at 

Dr. Saloy talks about red beans and rice and cultural significance at

This poet of New Orleans excels at storytelling.… There’s this extraordinary sense of place. It is the dominant theme: the importance and significance of place caught up in and creating identity and a sense of being. For New Orleans is a way of life—a religion, a way of being, a unique and extraordinary cultural way of existing within the context of racial oppression and poverty.

Chicken Bones: A Journal

Far from the many neo-formalist and l-a-n-g-u-a-g-e winners of other contests that year, Saloy’s is a plain spoken meander through New Orleans neighborhoods, one front porch at a time.… For those who remember the pre-disaster new Orleans and miss it…for those who delight in a family history honestly portrayed, Mona Lisa Saloy’s Red Beans and Ricely Yours will be a warm, familiar read.


Wall Street Journal article, November 1, 2005


Red Beans and Ricely Southern
     Word Works
     Back on the Block
     This Poem is for You My Sister
     My Mother’s the Daughter of a Slave
     For Frank Fitch
     Southern Sisters
     Louisiana Log
     A Few Words on My Words
     I Had Forgotten the Loud

Shotgun Life
     Shotgun Life I: Home
     Shotgun Life II: Sonnet
     Shotgun Life III: Today
     Shotgun Life IV: Section 8, 2003
     Shotgun Life V: Rembering D
     Shotgun Life VI: Roots, 200 Years, Louisiana Purchase
     Shotgun Life VII: Old School, Circa 1960

Red Beans and Ricely Creole Quarters
     Nat King Cole Babies and Black Mona Lisas
     My Creole Daddy I
     Daddy’s Philosophy II
     Daddy Poem III: New Orleans Then
     Daddy Poem IV
     For Daddy V
     On My Block
     Parochial Product
     My Cousin My Brother
     French Market Morning
     French Market Friend
     Recycling Neighborhood Style
     Villanelle for Voodoo
     The Ballad of Marie LaVeau
     The Last Mile
     A Taste of New Orleans in Haiku
     Summer in New Orleans
     On Writing

Black Creole Love
     This Afternoon...
     Email: Hey Now
     Distant Lover Poem
     When We…
     The First 30 Days
     Charm Fails Death
     Deuces Running Wild
     Telling Poem
     Like Langston Hughes Did

Red Beans and Ricely Black
     Song for Elder Sisters
     Mother with Me on Canal Street, New Orleans
     For My Brothers
     jim crow
     End Notes
N Word
     We’ve Come This Far


About the Author


Mona Lisa Saloy won the 2006 PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award in Poetry and the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry. Dr. Saloy has a chapter in the collection of essays, Living Blue in the Red States. She is associate professor of English and director of creative writing at Dillard University. She received her PhD in English and MFA in creative writing from Louisiana State University and her MA in creative writing and English from San Francisco State University.