John Wood, founder of McNeese State’s MFA program and its director for more than two decades, retired from the school in July, 2007. He and his wife Carol have moved to Vermont of all places, where they are still hard at work doing all the things they love.
John’s legacy is impossible to describe. Everything good that’s ever come out of the program-or that may come out in all the years to come-can be credited to him. He built this program with wit, intelligence, fierce loyalty, and above all an unbridled belief in the power of art. The generosity he showered on those in his classes was the kind that can never be honestly reciprocated, only passed on to others.
John Wood is the author of several books of poetry, including Selected Poems 1968-1998 (1999), The Gates of the Elect Kingdom (1997), and In Primary Light (1994) and a two-time winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Antaeus, the Southern Review, and elsewhere. He has also penned over a dozen volumes on photographic history and criticism, including The Photographic Arts; The Art of the Autochrome; and books on such contemporary artists as Jan Saudek, Luis Gonzalez Palma, and others. His books have picked up awards from the New York Times Book Review, the Wall Street Journal, the American Library Association and the American Photographic Historical Society. He also co-curated the Smithsonian Institution’s landmark 1995 exhibition Secrets of the Dark Chamber and co-wrote the book of the same title.
In addition to teaching, Wood holds the position of editor of 21st: The Journal of Contemporary Photography. Most recently he and photographer Joel-Peter Witkin have collaborated on a new edition of William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Experience.