Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Debra Marquart

Creative Nonfiction, Poetry
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Office Location

Stonecoast MFA Office: 98 Bedford Street, Portland, ME 04103


Stonecoast MFA Office: 207-780-4423

Academic Degrees

  • Master of Arts (Creative Writing). Iowa State University
  • Master of Liberal Arts. Moorhead State University


Debra Marquart (Creative Nonfiction, Poetry) is a professor of English and the director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa. She serves as the Senior Editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment, and teaches in the Stonecoast Low-Residency MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine.

Marquart is the author of six books, including three poetry collections—Small Buried Things, Everything's a Verb, and From Sweetness—and a short story collection, The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories, which draws on her experiences as a female road musician. Marquart’s memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, received the "Elle Lettres" award from Elle Magazine and the 2007 PEN USA Creative Nonfiction Award. In 2016, she co-edited a groundbreaking anthology of experimental writing for White Pine Press, Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Prose Sequence.

Marquart’s work has been featured on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” Tom Ashbrook’s “On Point,” and Garrison Keillor’s “The Writer’s Almanac.” Marquart's poem "Lament" was recently selected by Edward Hirsch for inclusion in Best American Poetry, 2016. She has received numerous awards including the John Guyon Nonfiction Award, the Shelby Foote Prize for the Essay, a Pushcart Prize, an NEA Creative Writing Prose Fellowship, the 2013 Wachtmeister Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Normal Poetry Prize from The Normal School, and the 2014 Paumanok Poetry Award. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including The North American Review, Three Penny Review, New Letters, River City, Crab Orchard Review, Narrative Magazine, The Sun, The Normal School, River Styx, Orion, and Witness.

Areas of Scholarship

Creative Nonfiction, Lyric Writing, Poetry, Performance Poetry, Social and Environmental Justice.

Recent Publications

The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere. A Memoir (Counterpoint Books, 2006)

From Sweetness: Poems (Pearl Editions, 2002)

The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories (New Rivers Press, 2001)

Everything's a Verb (New Rivers Press, 1995)

Small Buried Things: Poems, 2015

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

“Lament.” New Letters. 81.1 (2014)

“Living to Tell the Tale.” The Fourth River

“When the Band Broke Up.” Alligator Juniper XX

“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

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

“Getting Ready.” READ 180. NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, July, 2016.

“Lament.” Best American Poetry 2016


Where Social Justice and Environmental Justice Meet  

Debra Marquart

“We are saying that environmental justice incorporates the idea that we are just as much concerned about wetlands, birds and wilderness areas, but we're also concerned with urban habitats, where people live in cities, about reservations, about things that are happening along the US-Mexican border, about children that are being poisoned by lead in housing and kids playing outside in contaminated playgrounds. So we have had to struggle to get these issues on the radar of a lot of the large environmental groups.”

—Interview with Robert Bullard, Earth First! Journal.

Rob Nixon’s recent groundbreaking work of ecocriticism, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor, analyzes the way that poor and disenfranchised people around the world have borne the greatest burden of environmental degradation. In this seminar, we will look at excerpts from Slow Violence as well as a few case study chapters from The Environmental Justice Reader. Lastly, we will read and discuss the opening pages of Indra Sinha’s novel, Animal’s People: a Novel—a fictional exploration of the aftermath of the Union Carbide chemical plant explosion in Bhopal, India—to examine how incidents of environmental racism find their way into literary forms. 

Required Reading:

Indra Sinha, Animal’s People: A Novel.  [Read first 50 pages]

Joni Adamson, Mei Mei Evens and Rachel Stein. The Environmental Justice Reader: Politics, Poetics & Pedagogy. *

  • Andrea Simpson, “Who Hears the Cry? African American Women and the Fight for Environmental Justice in Memphis, Tennessee”
  • Valerie Kuletz, “The Movement for Environmental Justice in the Pacific Islands”
  • Susan Comfort, “Struggle in Ogoniland: Ken Saro-Wiwa and the Cultural Politics of Environmental Justice”

Rob Nixon, Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor. *

  • “Introduction” (excerpt)
  • “Chapter 1: Slow Violence, Neoliberalism, and the Environmentalism Picaresque”

Creative Activity


Invited Lecture. “A Poet’s Response to Oil Extraction.” Le Moulin a Nef, Virginia Center for the Arts—France, Auviallar, France. 28 July 2016

Interview. “Q & A with Debra Marquart.” Mason’s Road Issue 11: Joy. Summer, 2015

Invited Lecture & Keynote. Iota: Short Forms Conference, Campobello Island, Maine. 8 – 11 July 2017