John Metoyer – Blood Migration

April 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

As John Wood writes in his introduction: John Metoyer is one of the great photographic geniuses of our time and one of those exceptionally rare artists of the last few centuries who can genuinely be considered a master of more than one art–in his case, photography and poetry….This book celebrates his work in both arts, two arts which for Metoyer are completely separate and have nothing in common but their creator. His photographs do not illustrate his poems nor is his poetry a commentary on his photography. They are merely separate manifestations of a similar genius.

Metoyer was born in Chicago in 1966 and grew up there; however, his roots were in Creole Louisiana. Since the mid-eighteenth century his family lived in and around Yucca (later renamed Melrose), their ancestral plantation, and many of his relatives still live there. Of all the plantations of Louisiana, Melrose is perhaps the most fascinating and most atypical because it was not the product of a white patriarchy but of a Black matriarchy.

In addition to Immigration Song Metoyer has a few other works, both poetic and photographic, that touch upon the “Black experience,” his powerful image of a blind and bound Africa, for example, but his larger subject is the human experience. And that is his greatest strength, that his imagination is not circumscribed by arbitrary limitations; he lets it range unfettered. And the results are strikingly original poetry and strange and beautiful photographs unlike anyone else’s.

…Metoyer’s vision is comprehensive, for it also encompasses both compassion and grandeur. In Grounds-keeper’s Observations, a poem of unique and powerfully touching observations, he writes:

After two years,
the widows come less,
find other widows, different men,
maybe cats. The widowers keep coming though,
wearing wrinkled suits and stained ties,
carrying foiled pots of blossoms.
Some show at early dawn, following rain,
when the hazy light and quiet
can appease eager eyes with shadow,
with breezes twisting morning
into visions of their slumbering loves.
Better days have stranded them here
to walk alone against the partial sun,
to lose their way in this maze of dirt,
memory, and chiseled stone.
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