Since 1991, Mona Lisa Saloy, PhD, has been a professor at Dillard University, as well as the Conrad N. Hilton endowed professor and coordinator of English since 2014. Prior to these appointments, she was a visiting associate professor of American ethnic studies from 2005 to 2007, a research assistant at Louisiana State University from 1986 to 1991, an instructor in the Upward Bound program at the University of California Berkeley in 1985, and a National Endowment for the Arts poet in residence and director of the writing program for the San Francisco African American Historical and Cultural Society from 1983 to 1985. Additionally, Dr. Saloy was an instructor of writing at San Francisco State University from 1983 to 1985, at Laney College in Oakland, California, from 1983 to 1984 and the City College of San Francisco in 1980, where she was also a counselor and job developer for the Ocean Mission Ingleside summer project. She recalls winning a writing contest at the beginning of her career, after which William Stafford told her that she was going to do great things. This affirmation was the highlight of her career.
Dr. Saloy’s academic pursuits began at the University of Washington, where she studied English, creative writing and poetry. In 1979, she graduated with a Bachelor of Arts. She continued her studies at San Francisco State University, where she earned a Master of Arts in creative writing and poetry in 1982. She then attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, where she obtained a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing in 1988. Ultimately, Dr. Saloy earned a PhD from the same academic institution in 2005.
Some of Dr. Saloy’s published works include “BAM and Mona Lisa Saloy” in 2018, “We Matter” in 2017, “Great Neighborhood SELLabration Site Spotlight: Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church” in 2016, and “The Federal Flood” and “Children’s Games Songs” in 2015. Additionally, she wrote “Enduring Creole Terms” in 2012 and was involved with the Louisiana Department of Folklife’s Division of the Arts. Her other works written include “Zora Neale Hurston on River Road: Portrait of Algiers, New Orleans and Her Fieldwork” in 2001, “Sidewalk Songs, Jump-Rope Rhymes and Clap-Hand Games of African American Children” and “Forward” in 2011, and “New Orleans Black Indian Tradition at Mardi Gras” and “Zora Neale Hurston in New Orleans” in 2010. Her work “Code Switching” was published in the Louisiana English Journal in 2009. Dr. Saloy has additionally authored “Disasters, Nature and Poetry” and “Saloy Letter” in 2009, “Rebuilding Remains a Logistical Nightmare for South” and “The World Loves New Orleans, but America did not Come to its Rescue” in 2007, and “Social Networks in New Orleans: A Complex of Culture” in 2006, among others.
Moreover, Dr. Saloy has written numerous poems that have been published over the years, including “Coming of Age in BAM” in 2018, “Lincoln Beach” and “For My Sister 2” in 2014. Furthermore, she has poetry published in “Fightin’ Words: 25 Years of Provocative Poetry and Prose from ‘The Blue Collar’ PEN” in 2014, in the Southern Poetry Anthology in 2011, in the Pan African Literary Journal in 2010, “Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present” in 2004 and on the Louisiana Poetry Project website. Other published poems of Dr. Saloy’s include “Missing in 2005: New Orleans Neighborhood Necessities” in 2011, “Post-K Poems” in 2007, “We” in 2006, and “Shot-Gun Life,” “French Market Morning” and “Daddy Poem IV” in 2003. Aside from all of her written works, she has also been involved with films such as “Bleu Orleans: Documenting Black Creole Culture at Dillard University” in 2017, “Easter Rock” in 2016 and “Word Works” in 2001.
As a seasoned professional, Dr. Saloy has been invited as a speaker at numerous events, including the Smithsonian Black Creole Culture in 2015, the Louisiana Council of Teachers of English, the Jack Kerouac Conference on Beat Literature at the University of Massachusetts in 2003, and the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival from 2001 to 2003. Additionally, she spoke and presented at the Purdue African American Cultural Center in 2008, the American Folklore Society Annual Conference and the Tom Dent Literature Festival in 2003. Dr. Saloy was a speaker and guest writer at Santa Barbara City College in 2006, the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literature Festival in 1997 and at Savannah State University in 2003. She was also a presenter at the Atlanta Conference in 2015 and a moderator at the Society for the Study of Southern Literature in 2002. Moreover, she was a fellow and guest writer at the DeBose Fine Arts Festival, speaker at the Louisiana Creole Research Association and guest writer at the Lakeside School in 2008. She has also been involved with the Association of Writers and Writing Programs in 2003 and the National Black Jewish Conference every year since 1996.
For all of these accomplishments, Dr. Saloy has been recognized with the Mayor’s Office Tricentennial Grant in 2018, the Louisiana State Folklife Ambassador in 2017, the Faculty Award for Dedication and Excellence in 2016, the NEH $100,000 Black Creole Culture Grant from 2015 to 2017 and the UNCF/Mellon Fellowship to Nantes, France, in 2015. In 2014, she was selected for the President’s All-Star Team at Dillard University, received the Exemplary Faculty Award for Creative and Research, and was honored as an Outstanding Black Artist at the National Conference of Black Artists. Furthermore, Dr. Saloy earned $400,000 in fundraising grants in 2011, was given a Dillard University Research mini-grant in 2010, a Board of Regents Grant for Creative Writing from Dillard University in 2009 and another research grant from Dillard University in 2008. In 2008, she received a Cultural Economy Grant for Audio Book. She previously received a United Negro College Fund and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Dissertation fellowship from 1993 to 1994 and in 2000 and 2004, a National Endowment for the Humanities Dissertation fellowship from 1994 to 1995, and an Arts Excellence in Literature Award from Delta Sigma Theta Sorority in 1996 and 1989.
Dr. Saloy also had poems commissioned by the National Constitution Center in 2006 and by Southern University’s 1997 Bayou Classic/State Farm. In addition to working as a writer in residence at the City of Plaquemine Activity Center in 2001, she received the Morgan Poetry Prize from the StoryLine Press in 2005 and the T.S. Eliot Prize in Poetry from the Truman State University Press in 2005.