Debra Marquart


Office:303 Ross
527 Farm House Ln.
Ames IA
Office Hours:Tuesday 1-3



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


M.L.A., Master of Liberal Arts. Moorhead State University, Minnesota.
M.A., Master of Arts (Creative Writing). Iowa State University, Iowa.

Research Areas of Interest

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

About My Teaching & How I Came To Teach

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.

Recent Honors & Awards

Invited Artist Residency. The Hermitage Artist Retreat, Englewood, Florida. One-Month Invited Residency. Month long residency in 2017, Date TBD.

Invited Traveling Residency. North Dakota Humanities Council Grant. “Seniors Speak.” Awarded in 2016. Grant Activity: January – March, 2017. $30,000 grant to teach creative workshops to senior populations and gather oil impact stories in North Dakota oil patch.

Humanities Iowa Major Grant ($10,000) to support the Pearl Hogrefe Visiting Writer Series, 2016 – 2017. All events held at Iowa State University.

Invited Monthlong Residency. Moulin a Nef, Auvillar, France. Virginia Center for the Arts—France. July-August, 2016.

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.”

Current Publications

  • Books and Monographs

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

“Buried Voices.” Narrative Magazine. Forthcoming, 2018.

“Some Things About That Day.” Short-Form Creative Writing: A Writer’s Guide and Anthology. Bloomsbury Press. Forthcoming 2018. [reprint]

“Living to Tell the Tale.” The Fourth River. Vol. 0.3 (2016): 16 – 24.

“When the Band Broke Up.” Alligator Juniper XX. 2016: 3 – 5.

“The Microphone Erotic.” From Curlers to Chainsaws: Women Writers and Their Machines. Lansing, MI: Michigan State University Press, 2016: 192 – 201.

“Tell it Cool: On Restraint in Writing.” New Ohio Review 19 (2016): 155 – 158.

“The Perils of Travel.” Paris, Etc. Florham Park, NJ: Serving House Books, 2016. Jessie Vail Aufiery, Editor. 183 – 194. [reprint]

“Whisker Meditations.” Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Flash Sequence. Buffalo, NY: White Pine Press, 2016. [reprint]

“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

“Kablooey is the Sound You’ll Hear.” Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence in the U.S. Eds, Alexandra Teague, Brian Clements, and Dean Rader. Beacon Press. Forthcoming, December 2017. [reprint]

“Getting Ready.” READ 180. NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. [reprint]

“Lament.” Best American Poetry 2016. NY: Simon and Schuster, 2016. Series Ed, David Lehman, Guest Ed, Edward Hirsch. 108-109. [reprint]

“Traveling with Guitar.” American Life in Poetry Series. Nov. 23, 2015. Ed. Ted Kooser.

“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.” 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.

Current Research Projects


The Night We Landed on the Moon is a collection of essays that focuses on the twin impulses of loving a place to death while also being morbidly repelled by it. The essays in The Night We Landed on the Moon explore what it means to grow up among immigrants in an ethnic enclave in one of the most remote parts of the United States. They sift through questions of what it means to leave that place in search of one’s own American identity. Some of the essays employ a lyric, segmented form, and some are written in a more traditional essay style. The travel essays ask questions about how one might earn global citizenship. Finally, two essays in the collection turn to the new dilemma—how to reconcile oneself to a homeground that has become unrecognizable due to outside forces, such as an oil boom.

Status: Complete & Circulating to Publisher.

  • 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


Originally all sounds were originals. They occurred at one time and in one place only. Sounds were then indissolubly tied to the mechanisms that produced them. The human voice traveled only as far as one could shout. Every sound was uncounterfeitable, unique. The Greek prefix schizo means split, separated; and phone is Greek for voice. Schizophonia refers to the split between an original sound and its electroacoustic transmission or reproduction. It is another twentieth-century development.

—R. Murray Schafer, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World

The Listening Room is a meditation on the pleasures and privileges of singing, an autobiography of dreaming and catastrophe, a treatise on listening, and a cultural analysis of the musician as the centerpiece of live performance and auditory spectacle. The book takes its central idea from the term coined by R. Murray Schafer in The Soundscape, a seminal work of acoustic ecology, to describe the phenomenon that occurs when music becomes separated from the acoustic environment of its own making and is carried to listeners via technologies such as audio recording and digital reproduction. By this definition, most contemporary music is experienced schizophonically.

Drawing on her own experiences as a performing road musician and a singer/songwriter, Marquart explores music’s ritual origins, and she interrogates the sensory and experiential gap—the generation loss—that results for listeners who only experience music through the distances created by mechanical reproduction. This story—the way a singer’s breath lives on in the recording long after the singer is gone—is also the subject of The Listening Room. Finally, the book is a meditation on the role that music plays in the lives of those who are buoyed up by it and lured into its dreaming, and those for whom music becomes a consoling presence, an incomparable ally and life companion.

Status: Drafting of Stand-Alone Pieces for Publication

Outside Of The University

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 litters of 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—the names they were given at the animal hospital. I didn’t have the heart to change their names, and I liked that they had a literary association—after the short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” written by F. Scott Fitzgerald. 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.