Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Marquart Comes to DSU

Through the efforts of a number of people, Debra Marquart spent the day at the DSU campus yesterday. Here's the story and some pictures I meant for the school newspaper, written too late for printing:

Poet and writer Debra Marquart met with faculty, students, and the DSU president Dr. Knowlton during her visit on Tuesday, April 3. Marquart, who teaches in the English Department at Iowa State University, was on campus to meet with students and to read from her newest book, The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere.

Marquart capped her day with a reading and discussion of portions of her memoir in the Mundt Foundation at the Karl E. Mundt Library. She was preceded by Lisa Huff, an English major who read a short memoir titled “Thunder Rolls,” about growing up near Colman. Huff was followed by Dr. John Nelson, who read an Easter story from his memoir in progress. Nearly 75 people attended the event, hosted by Jenny Seitz and Megan Flynn, two English majors.

Marquart met with Dr. Nelson’s class in the memoir on Tuesday morning. Students in the course and guests were treated to some reading and discussion of Marquart’s memoir of growing up in North Dakota. “I was a farm girl, and I wanted nothing more than to leave North Dakota,” Marquart told the class. “But a lot of people like me end up wanting to come back.” Marquart told students that a writing group, such as the one she was once in with Dr. Maureen Murphy in Minnesota, can be a major benefit for any writer.

The writer then joined a group of faculty for a regular soup lunch shared in Beadle Hall. In the afternoon, Marquart met with Deana Hueners-Nelson’s Introduction to Literature class, reading and discussing her poems and poetry writing in general with students.

In the afternoon Dr. Knowlton hosted Marquart and English faculty and students at a tea in the Girton House.

The event was sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences.

1 comment:

Deana said...

I certainly enjoyed the activities, but I thought as a response, I'd share some of my students' comments about what they had learned from Marquart's visit. Most lessons focused on poetry and writing, but not all.

I realize that even good poets might struggle. I also liked how she could turn random, insignificant events into poems, showing that ideas do not have to be hard to come by.

It was interesting to hear how she read them and put life into her poems. I liked seeing the differences in how I read them and how she read them. After hearing how she poured her life into her poems, I want to do the same--try to make a poem out of a simple thing.

I liked that she was honest and explained some of her poems to give us a better understanding of how difficult word choice really is when writing. I am going to read her book this summer.

I made me see how vulnerable you have to be to be a writer, letting people see you and be able to understand with you--things like being raised in a different kind of family or getting older and having a hair on your chin.

I never realized that poetry writing could be so difficult! I always thought that if you had talent in writing that it wouldn't take long to write [a poem]. But now I see that even talented poets take a lot of time to write poems. It really made me want to try writing poetry--even though it may be difficult.

It was interesting to know that even when you don't have your mind made up on what you want to do with your life, that doesn't mean you are a bad person.