The Iowa Poet Laureate is an honorary appointment by the Governor of Iowa intended to recognize the importance of poetry in Iowans’ everyday lives.

The position is a two-year renewable appointment managed by the Iowa Arts Council and Humanities Iowa that is entitled to no compensation as a result of the appointment but whose poetic accomplishments deserve recognition as the State Poet Laureate. The position is selected by the Governor from a list of three nominees put forth by a volunteer citizen committee selected by Humanities Iowa and the Iowa Arts Council. The nominating committee is charged with considering the diversity of the people and poetry of Iowa.

Debra Marquart

Debra Marquart is the author of six books including, Small Buried Things: Poems (2015), The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere (2007), and a co-edited anthology of experimental writing, Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Prose Sequence (2016). She teaches in the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine and is a Professor of English in the MFA Program in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University. The Senior Editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing & Environment, Marquart has delivered over 250 invited readings and keynotes at universities and conferences from New York and Washington to Greece and Ireland. Her environmental poem, “Lament,” was selected for inclusion in Best American Poetry 2016.

Marquart’s short story collection, The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories, which draws in her experiences as a road musician, was awarded the Headwaters Prize (New Rivers Press, 2001), and her poetry collection, From Sweetness, won the Pearl Poetry Award (Pearl Editions, 2002). Marquart’s first poetry collection, Everything’s a Verb, was awarded the Minnesota Voices Award. Her work has been featured on three NPR programs—Morning Edition, The Writer’s Almanac, and On Point—and on the BBC.

Marquart is also a singer-songwriter. She recorded two CDs with her band, The Bone People: Orange Parade (original songs) and A Regular Dervish (jazz-poetry). With The Bone People, Marquart has adapted her poetry to auditory landscapes and backgrounds of music to enhance the auditory and performative quality of poetry. She continues to perform her jazz poetry and music as a solo artist.

She is the recipient of over 50 grants and awards including an NEA Fellowship, a PEN USA Nonfiction Award, the Wachtmeister Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Normal Poetry Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award, and Elle Magazine’s Elle Lettres Award. She is currently working on a new book of poems and a memoir, entitled The Listening Room: Notes on a Life in Music, which is an acoustic ecology on the art of listening, an autobiography of dreaming and catastrophe, and a meditation on the pleasures of making and performing music.

How to Nominate

  1. Read the Guidelines
  2. Complete the Online Application