Over the years, Marshall Surratt has committed himself to writing about or photographing people who have sought to make a difference, including Rosa Parks, Anne Braden, Pete Seeger, Wendell Berry, and Wes Jackson. Other times he has turned attention to his family lore, to sort out past wrongs and attempts at penance, believing in self-examination, too. Articles and reviews of his have appeared in Christian Century, Christianity & Crisis, Texas Observer, and Dallas Morning News, as well as other publications.
Eckleburg: What captures your interest most in your work, now, as a reader of your work?
Marshall Surratt: In reading, I probably am most interested in how character and belief intersects the world of action. The nuanced descriptions in Defoe’s Journal of the Plague Year of those who use difficult times for self-aggrandizement seem as relevant as ever.
Eckleburg: What are you working on now?
Marshall Surratt: I am writing a longform essay on political rhetoric, particularly as used to coalesce one’s own side and present other people as the dangerous enemy. When I taught journalism at the university, the intersection of religion and faith and the use of political rhetoric were my particular areas of study.
Eckleburg: Who and what are your artistic influences?
Marshall Surratt: My influences have been both writers and photographers, writers such as Wendell Berry and William Carlos Williams, or the writer-photographer Wright Morris, each who located his work in his community and sought to convey the quiet grace in the lives of those people in the surrounding community. I am also indebted to those people of faith who sought to empty their egos and engage with the world around them in a meaningful way, and are inquisitive and comfortable with not knowing everything, whether someone like an Owen Barfield (with whom I spent an afternoon once upon a time) or a Simone Weil.
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