The collaboration between photographer Richard Leo Johnson and poet C. D. Wright, which appears as a feature in our Spring issue, was transformed by Wright’s unexpected passing in January. She had recently delivered her piece, a poem inspired by Johnson’s images, “What Do You Think’s in the Shed,” and was looking forward to the publication. Now it stands as a memorial to her acclaimed and beloved life’s work, so much of which she devoted to alchemizing the sensibilities and images of the South (and particularly the Ozark region where she grew up) into extraordinary words. It is no stretch to note that Johnson’s pictures of his own home place in northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas perform a similar function, each one a sympathetic glimpse into a world that has long since vanished.
Richard Leo Johnson’s photographs will be on display with C. D. Wright’s accompanying poem throughout the South this year in his exhibition . . . Once Was Lost . . . . (Visit his website for details.) As a further tribute to his friend, Johnson, who is also an accomplished guitarist and songwriter, put together a short film of the images set to original music and featuring Wright’s husband, author Forrest Gander, reading her words. It is a moving piece, and a lovely supplement to the printed feature. They have kindly allowed us to share it here with you.
(The reading begins around 1:40.)