Debra Marquart Directory Page

Debra Marquart
Professor of Englishmarquart2



Office: 303 Ross Hall
Office Phone:  (515) 294-3173
Cell Phone:  (515) 290-7731
Personal Website:


Undergraduate courses in Creative Writing and graduate courses in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment

English 207:  Introduction to Creative Writing
English 304: Undergraduate Fiction Workshop
English 305:  Undergraduate Nonfiction Workshop
English 306:  Undergraduate Poetry Workshop
English 496:  Study Abroad—Ireland: A Traveling Writers’ Workshop
English 555:  Graduate Nonfiction Workshop
English 556:  Graduate Poetry Workshop
English 557:  Studies in Creative Writing (Travel Writing)
English 559:  Creative Writing Teaching Practicum
English 560: Environmental Field Experience
English 589:  Supervised Practicum in Literary Editing


MLA – Master of Liberal Arts.  Moorhead State University, Minnesota.  1990.
Creative Thesis Title:  “Through the Beaded Curtain: Stories.”

MA – Master of Arts (Creative Writing).  Iowa State University, Iowa.  1993.
Creative Thesis Title:  “The Horizontal Life: Poems, Stories, Essays.”


Poetry, Eco-Poetics, Ekphrastic Poetry
Intermedia Arts, Video Essays, Performance Poetry
Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, Research Nonfiction, Reportage
Fiction, from novel-length narratives to flash fictions
Travel Writing, Experiential Writing, Writing of the Environmental Imagination


Music is the starting point for much of my life in art, and it also informs my teaching practices.  For many years, from the late-seventies forward, I was a road musician, and I continue to perform as a singer-songwriter.  Many years ago—early in my life as a traveling musician—my band lost everything in a truck fire.  All of our gear burned, and we were left with no equipment to play music.  During this time, while we were stalled out in Fargo figuring out how to replace our lost gear, I began to write out of an intense feeling of loss.  The writing began as scribbles in a notebook, song lyrics, rants, and bad poems.  I hope, in the years since then, the writing has evolved to something more masterful, resonant, and evocative.  So, my life as a writer also developed out of music, or perhaps out of loss, or maybe out of fire.  I’m still working that question out in my own creative work.

Teaching, like music, is an improvisational act.  One must plan, practice and prepare, of course, but what happens in the classroom is often unexpected and surprising, because it involves the abundance of ideas, energy, and experiences that the students bring to the classroom.  This is especially true when teaching creative writing, because so much of what students write for my classes is informed either directly by personal experience or, at the very least, by personal observation.  I see my job as a teacher of creative writing to provide enough good models of literature to inspire the writers, then to provide a strong framework—structure, guidance, craft principles, deadlines, feedback—to allow the students to learn the best practices of working writers so that they will flourish in their own imaginations.  Each day in a creative writing classroom is full of incredible revelations and wonderful surprises—I feel very lucky that I get to do this work.


Alligator Juniper 2016 Creative Nonfiction Award for essay, “When the Band Broke Up.”

Invited Traveling Residency. North Dakota Humanities Council Grant.   “Our People. Our Places. Our Stories.” Awarded in 2014. Grant Activity in January/February, 2015. $27,000 grant to teach creative workshops and gather oil impact stories in North Dakota oil patch.

Visiting Fellowship. Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, MI. 10 Week Fellowship, $10,000 Fellowship. Awarded in 2014. Grant Activity in March/April, 2015.

2014 Paumanok Poetry Award from the Visiting Writers Program at Farmingdale State College, New York.

2013 Manchester Poetry Prize, Short-List Honors. Manchester Writing School, Manchester Metropolitan University, Mancheser, UK. 2013.

Normal Prize in Poetry, for poem, “Kablooey is the Sound You Hear.” The Normal School. 2013.

Wachtmeister Award for Excellence in the Arts, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. 2013.

North Dakota Humanities Council, invited traveling residency to gather cultural and environmental impact stories in the North Dakota “Oil Patch. “Our People. Our Places. Our Stories.” November, 2013.

David B. Saunders Award for Creative Nonfiction from Cream City Review for essay, “Ephemera.” 2012.

Black Earth Institute Fellow. Black Earth Institute, Black Earth, Wisconsin. 2011.

2008 National Endowment for the Arts, NEA Literature Fellowship—Prose.

2007 PEN USA Creative Nonfiction Award for The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere.

Elle Magazine, “Elles Lettres” Award, August 2006, for The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere.

Mid-American Review, Nonfiction Award, “Agricultural Mysticism: Twenty-One Fragments on Desire.” 2003.

Shelby Foote Prize for the Essay. William Faulkner Creative Writing Competition. The Pirate’s Alley, Faulkner Society, New Orleans, LA. 2003.

John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Award for “Pilgrim Soul.” Crab Orchard Review, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL. 2003.

Lush Triumphant Nonfiction Award for “How to Enjoy a Nice Life in the Country.” SubTerrain Magazine, Anvil Press, Vancouver, Canada. 2003.

2001 Pushcart Prize, for “Things Not Seen in a Rear View Mirror.”


  • Books and Monographs

Alexander, Robert, Eric Braun, Debra Marquart, eds. Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence. Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press (Forthcoming 2016).

Marquart, Debra. Small Buried Things: Poems. Moorhead, MN: New Rivers Press, 2015.

Marquart, Debra.  The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere.   A Memoir.  New York: Counterpoint Books. Hardcover 2006; Paperback 2007.

Marquart, Debra.  From Sweetness: Poems.  Long Beach: Pearl Editions, 2002.

Marquart, Debra.  The Hunger Bone:  Rock & Roll Stories.  Minneapolis, MN:  New Rivers Press, 2001.

Marquart, Debra.  Everything’s a Verb.  Minneapolis, MN: New Rivers Press, 1995.

  • Recent Publications in Refereed Journals – Prose

“When the Band Broke Up.” Alligator Juniper. Forthcoming 2016.

“The Perils of Travel.” Paris Anthology. Florham Park, NJ: Serving House Books. Jessie Vail Aufiery, Editor. Forthcoming 2016.

“The Microphone Erotic.” From Curlers to Chainsaws: Women Writers and Their Machines. Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press. Forthcoming 2016.

“Whisker Meditations.” Nothing to Declare: Flash Sequence Anthology. Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press. Forthcoming 2016.

“Carte Blanche.” On Second Thought: Sense of Place Issue. North Dakota Council on
the Humanities, 2014: 36-44.

“Not All There.” Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland. Ice Cube Press, 2014.

“After the Fire.” The Normal School: A Literary Magazine.   5.2 (2012): 37-39.

“Whisker Meditations.”  Georgetown Review.  13.1 Spring/ 2012: 98-100.

“Ephemera.”  Cream City Review.  36.1 Spring/Summer 2012: 207-218.

“Losing the Meadow.”  Alligator Juniper.  (2012):  36-43.

“The Other Woman.”  Bellingham Review.  64 Spring 2012:  34-42.

“The Art of Cheer.”  Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball.  Ed. Todd Davis.  Michigan State University Press, 2011: 101-108.

“Those Desirable Things.”  Event Magazine. 40.1 (2011): 27-31.

“Refusing Nostalgia: On Geographical Flight and Cultural Amnesia.”  On Second Thought: The Journey Stories Issue.  Bismarck: North Dakota Humanities Council, 2010.  Print.

“Perils of Travel.” Cadences: Literary Journal, Cyprus College, Nicosia, Cyprus, 2009: 29-38.

  • Recent Publications in Refereed Journals – Poetry

“Lament.” New Letters. (2014) 81.1.

“Wild Thyme” and “Traveling with Guitar.” Through a Distant Lens: Travel Poems. Ed. Sheryl Clough. Whidbey Island, WA: Create Space, 2014.

“Things Not to Put in Your Mouth,” “Poor You,” “China: 5,000 Years,” and “News Flash.”
2013 Manchester Poetry Prize. Short-List Finalist. Manchester School of Writing, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK. 18 Oct. 2013.

“Kablooey is the Sound You’ll Hear.” The Normal School 6.2 (2013): 19.

“Ecdysis.” River Styx 89 (2013): 8-9.

“Door to Door.”  Narrative Magazine.  Poem of the Week, 2012-2013.  March 31, 2013.

“Couples Traveling.”  Narrative Magazine.  Narrative Backstage.  July 20, 2013.

“Ground Oregano.” River Styx 88 (2012): 66.

“Pre-Existing Conditions.”  30 Days Hath September.  Black Earth Institute.  September 14, 2012.

“Memorabilia.” Southern Poetry Review 50.1 (Sept. 2012): 47.

“Scent” Southern Poetry Review 50.1 (Sept. 2012): 48.

“Thugs.”  Comstock Review.  25.1-2 (2011).

“Balance.”  Opium Magazine.  11/2/2011.

“Nil Ductility.”  Mississippi Review 38.3 (2011):  114-117.

“Greyhound Days.” The Ledge Poetry and Fiction Magazine 33 (2010): 278-280.

“Cell.”  The Ledge Poetry and Fiction Magazine 33 (2010):  275-277.

“Somewhere in a House Where You are Not.”  Don’t Leave Hungry:  Southern Poetry Review’s 50th Anniversary Anthology, 2009: 202-203.

“Somewhere In a House Where you are Not,” Southern Poetry Review.  46.2 (2009): 34-35.


  • Bring Down Lightning: A Novel

Bring Down Lightning is a novel that follows the story of a forty-year-old woman, recently widowed, who arrives by ferry on Erikousa, a lush Ionian island with verdant hills in the northwestern-most reaches of Greece. She travels to the island to take possession of a rundown ancestral home deeded to her in the will of her Greek-American husband. She has also inherited a hotly disputed portion of an ancient olive grove that borders her property. The events of the novel turn on the arrival one day on the ferry of a young child, a foundling, obviously abandoned by her parents. The main character takes on the care of the lost child and investigates the events that led to her abandonment.

Status: Drafting & Revising Phase

  • Schizophonia: Notes on a Life in Music—An Acoustic Ecology

Schizophonia is a personal meditation on the pleasures and privileges of being a singer, an autobiography of making and listening to music, and a cultural analysis of the musician as the centerpiece of live performance and the focal point of auditory spectacle. These sensual and aesthetic questions about music are intriguing to me as a writer and a performer, especially as most avid listeners now experience music in a “schizophonic” state, a term coined by R. Murray Schafer in The Tuning of the World to describe what happens when music travels away from the acoustic environment of its own making via technologies such as audio recording and digital reproduction.

To this end, Schizophonia explores the political economy of folk and rock music—who patronizes it, how it’s shaped by market forces, and how it proliferates—a significant consideration, especially as music sometimes reflects and codifies social order, sometimes disrupts consensus by introducing elements of noise and chaos into the acoustic environment, and sometimes further transgresses by doing both things at the same time.

Thinking about music in theoretical ways has been useful in the development of my own story, especially as I’ve made sense of my historical moment. My life as a performing musician is anecdotal and idiosyncratic, but also entwined with an evolving musical history that spans the ending and beginning of two centuries when so many of these interesting technological developments have occurred. In Schizophonia, I hope to bring theories of acoustic ecology to bear on the narrative of my own life as a performer, a lifelong lover of music, and a poet and songwriter, someone who writes and records music.               

Status: Drafting of Stand-Alone Pieces for Publication


A few years ago, I rescued two sibling puppies—both males, a bichon frise/lhasa apso mix.  Five months old at the time, they were discovered along with dozens of other puppies in a puppy mill raid somewhere in the Midwest.   I had never considered myself a dog-person, but some of my students were writing essays about rescuing dogs.  So, in between reading my students’ rescue-dog essays, I would go onto and look at puppies.  That’s how I found Benjamin and Buttons, which is the name the animal hospital gave them in their temporary home after they were seized at the puppy mill.  I didn’t have the heart to change their names, plus they had a literary ring—Benjamin Buttons.  Rehabilitating these little guys and socializing them after their rough start at life has occupied a lot of my time.  I also write songs, practice guitar, and garden.