In Eyes with Winged Thoughts, the forty-four photographs and fifty-eight poems, reflecting on his long and extraordinary life, offer a rare glimpse of his thoughts and feelings about everything from romantic love to the Iraq war and the passing of Pope John Paul II. He has done it all. Gordon Parks's life is an astonishing litany of firsts: in the 1940s he was the first African-American photographer to work for the Farm Security Administration and for Vogue and Life magazines; in the 1960s he would become the first African-American director of a major motion picture. A dominating figure in contemporary American culture, he is an artist of uncompromising vision and creativity. In 2002 Parks received the Jackie Robinson Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award and was inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame, just the latest in a series of honors that began when he received a prestigious Julius Rosenwald Fellowship in 1941 and which now includes an Emmy, a National Medal of the Arts, and over fifty honorary doctorates. Now in his nineties, he could easily rest on his laurels, but the luminous photographs on display in Eyes with Winged Thoughts and the poems -- some meditative and lyrical, some raw with emotion about the war in Iraq and the tragedy of the tsunami -- show that he is still a true American Renaissance man.
Gordon Parks's retrospective book of art photography, Half Past Autumn, published in 1997, coincided with an exhibition organized by the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C., which traveled in the United States from that year until 2003, and an HBO documentary that aired on November 30, 2000. He has authored numerous books of art, fiction, memoir (including A Star for Noon), photographs, and a CD of his music (2000). He published The Learning Tree, a novel, in 1963, and three previous autobiographies, A Choice of Weapons, To Smile in Autumn, and Voices in the Mirror. He died in March 2006 at his home in Manhattan. He was 93.