We commissioned poet Nikky Finney to respond to the images from the Southbound project. We sent her a link to all of the photographs, but chose not to include artists’ names, image locations, or any caption information. We felt there was value in allowing the poet to view the narrative potential contained within each image as an image, even if slippage between Finney’s poetic musings and the actual facts of a photograph’s making might result. She selected four, but stated to the curators:
I’ve accepted these kinds of invitations from others before. But I have never been so struck by so much of the work before. If I had been locked in a cell with each of these photographs taped to the walls around me I know I would’ve eventually made it out alive because of the hope and the life that I found in this masterful collection of images. I could have written a story about each and every one of these photographs had I had the time. That has never happened to me before. There were so many more I wanted to explore. I was struck like lightning by most every frame.