Recent Work By Susan Tepper

Sweet Marjoram, your new book, is done up in shades of green, on a velvet-soft matte cover.  It’s very tactile, this book.  There is this sensation of the flora, moist and juicy, stretching up from dark waters toward an unseen light source.  I think the cover image serves these writings extremely well.  As I went through the differently themed chapters, I had a sense of Thoreau musing over things.

The cover design by is Marc Vincenz  (also the editor of Mad Hat Press, the umbrella for Plume Editions).  It’s meant to portray the herb sweet marjoram, which was believed to cure madness in Shakespeare’s time, hence this close-up photograph of the living leaves against a dark background.  I took my title from the impromptu password that Edgar in King Lear (Act 4.6) offers the maddened Lear on Dover Beach, and I hoped to share that friendly, respectful spirit in my essays.  Given the Lear connection, by the way, we had also considered a different image from a Lear performance in the 1960s, where Lear wears a crown of weeds (rather than thorns) and actually offers Edgar some weed like a stoned Timothy Leary.  I preferred the first, simpler and more classic design, and I’m pleased it works so well for you: even bringing Thoreau to mind.  Thoreau both explored Nature as a scientist and imagined it as a poet, or tried to.  Interesting that his Walden Pond also helps him assess “unaccommodated man.”

Also, I suppose, just as Thoreau left civilized Concord for the woods, which seemed to others an odd and whimsical thing to do, here I’m leaving the serious literary work of novel and memoir writing, or seem to be.

I have known you for more than a decade as a writer of sensitive fiction mostly centered around your Indian roots.  But you are also a journalist who has many in-depth articles on nature and religion under your belt.  Now you have taken on the role of filmmaker. Specifically as writer and Associate Producer.  How did this new project come about?

A good friend of mine in the US, Ribbel Josha Dhason, happened to read one of my stories online and got in touch with me. “How about making this into a movie?” he said, ever so deceptively casual. Equally casual I replied, “Why not? How do you want to go about it?”

First step, turn it into a script, he said. Could I do it?

DeWitt Henry is the author of the novel The Marriage of Anna Maye Potts (winner of the inaugural Peter Taylor Prize for the Novel), and a mid-life memoir-in-essays, Safe Suicide: Narratives, Essays, and Meditations.  Both are sequels to his latest memoir, Sweet Dreams, about growing up on Philadelphia’s Main Line.  The founding editor of Ploughshares literary magazine, he is a Professor at Emerson College in Boston.  (For more details, please visit www.dewitthenry.com.)

Bradford Morrow is the author of six novels, including The Diviner’s Tale, Giovanni’s Gift, and Trinity Fields, and co-edited with David Shields The Inevitable: Contemporary Writers Confront Death. The recipient of numerous awards, he founded and edits the literary journal Conjunctions and is a professor of literature at Bard College. Morrow lives in New York City.

Why don’t you start off with the second question?

 

No, no, I’m going to start off with the first question.

All right!

 

I’m going to start off by saying it is Monday, August 22, at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, at an undisclosed location, outdoors, on a beautiful day…

I like your hair, by the way.