Monet, 28, holds bachelor’s degrees in English and French from the University of New Orleans and she expects to receive her MFA in poetry from the University’s Creative Writing Workshop in the fall.
The Iowa Review Award annually recognizes unpublished poems by a single author. Monet receives $1,500 and, as part of the prize, her winning poems, titled "In Hamburg with The Negro Avenged," "On Menzel’s Atelierwand," and "In Madrid with Picasso’s Guernica," will be published in the forthcoming issue of The Iowa Review.
Elizabeth Willis, professor of poetry at the Iowa Creative Writing Workshop and judge for the Iowa Review Award, said that Monet's poems "bring the reader to specific occasions of 19th and 20th Century artmaking with contemporary insight into what these works reveal both by what they show and by what they occlude."
"Rather than explaining, summarizing, or translating other works of art," Willis wrote, "these poems are with them, in layered representations of the ways art accompanies us, the shape of its afterlife, its blindness and insights, and its formidable power to transport, narrow, or expand the viewer's field of vision."
Monet is a New Orleans native, a graduate of Salmen High School, winner of the Vassar Miller Poetry Award and poetry editor at Bayou Magazine, the University of New Orleans' literary magazine. Monet's poetry has appeared in Crazyhorse, Sundog Lit, and Unlikely Stories, and she has poems forthcoming in Yemassee Journal.
As her master’s thesis, she is at work on her first book of poetry, which will explore the lives of her ancestors, people whose lives she has learned about through census records, historical records, archival research and, of course, family storytellers.
Monet, whose New Orleans family roots extend to before the city’s founding, says that she has been writing as long as she can remember. She once even got in trouble with a high school teacher for working on a novel in class, a supposed trespass that the then-Salmen High principal Byron Williams disregarded as absurd, much to Monet’s delight and appreciation.
Monet’s poetry has become a vehicle for her to explore her long-held interests in history, philosophy and words. As in the poem, "Madame Marguerite Joséphine Jean-Louis Pierry (f.w.c.)," her work blends imagination and nonfiction with intentional artistry that manages to resurrect the lives of the long deceased within the context of modern understanding and empathy. (Click to view a video of Monet reading this poem before an audience.)
Monet’s contemporary influences include Aracelis Girmay and Tonya Foster. She also credits Stacy Allbritton, who taught her French and English at Salmen, as well as University of New Orleans English faculty – including Carolyn Hembree, John Gery, Elizabeth Steeby, Randy Bates, Dan Doll, Barbara Fitzpatrick, Nancy Easterlin, and Leslie White – whose classes and teaching styles have helped shape the formative parts of her academic and literary education.
Hembree, assistant professor of English and accomplished poet who was recently named the recipient of the University of New Orleans Alumni Association Excellence in Teaching Award, has been an especially important mentor, Monet said.
"She teaches you to know what you’re doing, to have a why," Monet said.
Hembree has also provided a relentless voice of encouragement within the context of the criticism-heavy culture of Creative Writing Workshop. "'Submit. Submit a lot,'" Monet said, summarizing Hembree's advice. "I never really thought anything was good enough to send. She has always believed in me."