Marquart, Debra 1956–

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Marquart, Debra 1956–

(Debra K. Marquart)


Born 1956, in Bismarck, ND; daughter of Felix (a farmer) and Gladys (a farmer) Marquart. Education: Moorhead State University, B.S.W., 1984, M.L. A., 1990; Iowa State University, M.A., 1993.


Office—Department of English, Iowa State University, 206 Ross, Ames, IA 50011. E-mail—[email protected]


Iowa State University, Ames, IA, assistant professor, 1991-2001, associate professor of English, 2001—, faculty fellow at Center for Teaching Excellence, 2000-01. Visiting professor, Drake University, Des Moines, IA, 1994-95. Bone People (jazz-poetry performance group), member, 1992—. Speaker at colleges and universities, including Mankato State University, University of Minnesota—Duluth, Buena Vista State University, Southeastern Community College, Mount Mercy College, and Drake University. New Rivers Press, book judge for Minnesota Voices Award, 1994-96, book editor, 1996-97. Artist resident, Ucross Foundation, 1997, and Ragdale Foundation, 1997, 1999, and 2002.


Dorothy Churchill Cappon Essay Award, New Letters, 1989, for "Through the Beaded Curtain," 1996, for "The Most Famous Person from North Dakota"; Pearl Hogrefe writing fellow, Iowa State University, 1991-92; Pushcart Prize nominations, 1991, for "The Moon," 1996, for Everything's a Verb and "The Most Famous Person from North Dakota," 1997, for "To Kill a Deer," 1998, for "Other Knowledge," 2000, for "Things Not Seen in a Rear View Mirror," 2002, for "Between Earth & Sky," and 2005, for "To the Woman Who Tore the Word Husband from the Oxford English Dictionary"; Owen Poetry Prize, Southern Poetry Review, 1993, for "Somewhere in a House Where You Are Not"; Minnesota Voices Award, New Rivers Press, 1993, for Everything's a Verb; Poetry Award, Gloucester County College Poetry Center, 1994, for "When the Names Still Fit the Faces"; Iowa Arts Council grants, 1995, 1998, and 1999; Nonfiction Essay Awards, New Letters, 1996, for "The Most Famous Person from North Dakota," 1998, for "On Lost and Crazy Sisters," 1999, for "Things Not Seen in a Rear View Mirror"; Sue Saniel Elkind Poetry Award, Kalliope, 1997, for "Other Knowledge"; Iowa State University foreign travel grants, 1998, and 2000; Capricorn Novel Award, Writer's Voice, 1998, for Hunger in the Bones: Stories from the Road; ISU Women Award, Faculty Women's Network at Iowa State University, 1998-99; University Early Achievement in Teaching Award, Iowa State University, 1998-99; Headwaters Prize, New Rivers Press, 1999, for Hunger in the Bones: Stories from the Road; Nonfiction Award, New Letters, 1999, for "On Lost & Crazy Sisters"; scholarships from Squaw Valley Writers Conference, 1999, Writers Conference and Festivals at George Mason University, 2000, and the Breadloaf Writers Conference, 2000; Pearl Poetry Award, Pearl Editions, 2000, for From Sweetness: Poems; Pushcart Prize, 2001, for "Things Not Seen in a Rear View Mirror"; Pulitzer Prize nomination, 2001, for The Hunger Bone; Walter E. Dakin Fiction Fellowship, Sewanee Writers Conference, 2001; Early Achievement in Research Award, Iowa State University, 2002-03; Personal Essay Award, Writer's Digest, 2003, for "Sustainable Agriculture"; Lush Triumphant Nonfiction Award, SubTerrain Magazine, 2003, for "How to Enjoy a Nice Life in the Country"; John Guyon Nonfiction Award, Crab Orchard Review, 2003, for "Pilgrim Soul"; Mid-American Review Nonfiction Award, 2003, for "Agricultural Mysticism: Twenty-one Fragments on Desire"; Shelby Foote Prize for the Essay, Faulkner Society, 2003; Joseph S. Height Award, GRHS Convention, 2006, for "The Most Famous Person from North Dakota"; "Elles Lettres" Award, Elle Magazine, 2006, for The Horizontal World.


Everything's a Verb: Poems, New Rivers Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1995.

(With the Bone People) A Regular Dervish (jazz poetry; spoken-word compact disc), 1996.

(With the Bone People) Orange Parade (compact disc), 1996.

The Hunger Bone: Rock and Roll Stories (short stories), New Rivers Press (Minneapolis, MN), 2001.

From Sweetness: Poems, Pearl Editions (Long Beach, CA), 2001.

The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere (memoir), Counterpoint (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor of essays, short stories, and poems to periodicals, including Cumberland Poetry Review, North Dakota Quarterly, North American Review, New Letters, Sun, Gargoyle, Arts and Letters: Journal of Contemporary Culture, Witness, South Dakota Review, and Cimarron Review. Flyway Literary Review, interim editor, 1997-99, poetry editor, beginning 1997; American Fiction Anthology: The Best Unpublished Short Fiction by Emerging Writers, assistant editor, 1994-96, associate editor, beginning 1997. Assistant poetry editor, Iowa Woman, 1994-95.


A Pushcart Prize-winning poet and writing professor, Debra Marquart has led an interesting life. Growing up on a North Dakota farm established by her Russian-immigrant great-grandfather, she escaped farm life to attend college. Next, she joined the jazz band The Bone People and helped write songs for two music CDs. She eventually turned her writing skills to teaching at Iowa State University while also publishing poems and essays. Marquart reflects on her life in her memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, which was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. A lyrical work about a young woman who rebels against her parents' conservative values but, as an older adult, reflects more maturely about her childhood after she returns home for her father's funeral, the work was described as "beautiful" by Maria Kochis in Library Journal.

Some critics did note a few flaws in the memoir, however, such as when the author digresses "into a dry dissertation on the geological and migratory history of the Great Plains," as Julia Scheeres observed in a New York Times Book Review assessment. A Kirkus Reviews contributor was also frustrated by Marquart's omission of any explanation of how she evolved from rocker to university professor, also adding that "it is never clear that she has really made her peace with North Dakota." The critic, however, concluded that The Horizontal World is "[e]vocative, fresh and lovely, if incomplete." Noting that some of the chapters in the memoir were published in periodicals, and that this lends a "disjointed feel" to the narrative, Scheeres nevertheless asserted that "this doesn't diminish the overall richness of the book. The author's elegant, understated sentences are as fertile as freshly tilled rows of loam."



Marquart, Debra, The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, Counterpoint (New York, NY), 2006.


Booklist, July 1, 2006, Pamela Crossland, review of The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, p. 21.

Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2006, review of The Horizontal World, p. 560.

Library Journal, July 1, 2006, Maria Kochis, review of The Horizontal World, p. 78.

New York Times Book Review, July 30, 2006, Julia Scheeres, "Young at Heartland," review of The Horizontal World.

North American Review, January 1, 2002, Vincente F. Gotera, review of From Sweetness: Poems, p. 44.

Publishers Weekly, June 12, 2006, review of The Horizontal World, p. 46.


Brevity Book Reviews, (May 10, 2007), Todd Davis, review of The Horizontal World.

Debra Marquart Home Page, (May 10, 2007).

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Marquart, Debra 1956–

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