ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


Home   ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)


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.




Red Beans and Ricely Yours

By Mona Lisa Saloy

Winner of the 2005 T. S. Eliot Prize


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. Truman

*   *   *   *   *

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

*   *   *   *   *

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.ChickenBones: 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.—

*   *   *   *   *




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 Lord


Shotgun Life

Shotgun Life I: Home


Shotgun Life II


Shotgun Life III


Shotgun Life IV: Section 8, 2003


Shotgun Life V: Remembering 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 Lisa


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 LeVeau


The Last Mile


A Taste of New Orleans


Summer in New Orleans


On Writing

Black Creole Love

This Afternoon . . . 


Email: Hey Now


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


The N Word


We've Come This Far




About the Author


Published by Truman State University Press / Hardback $2495 / Paperback $14.95


Mona Lisa Saloy is associate professor of English and Director of creative writing at Dillard University (before Katrina). She won the 2005 T.S. Eliot Prize for Poetry for this collection. She has also won fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities and from the United Negro College Fund/Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Her poems have appeared in anthologies, magazines, journals, and film. 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. Displaced by hurricane Katrina, Saloy is a visiting associate professor of English and creative writing at the University of Washington for the 2005/2006 academic year.  Mona Lisa Saloy Bio

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)





update 7 March 2012




Home  Mona Lisa Saloy Table

Related files:  A Life Won with Blood & Tears