Debra Marquart is a professor of English at Iowa State University. She teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University and the Stonecoast Low-Residency MFA Program at University of Southern Maine. Winner of an NEA Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize, her work has appeared in numerous journals including The Sun, Brevity, The Normal School, Orion, and many others. Her memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, received the “Elle Lettres” award from Elle Magazine, a New York Times Editors’ Choice commendation, and the 2007 PEN USA Creative Nonfiction Award. Marquart is also the author of two poetry collections—Everything’s a Verb and From Sweetness—and a collection of interrelated short stories, The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories, which draws on her experiences as a female road musician. http://www.debramarquart.com/
Abigail Thomas, the daughter of renowned science writer Lewis Thomas (The Lives of a Cell), is the mother of four children and the grandmother of twelve. Her academic education stopped when, pregnant with her oldest daughter, she was asked to leave Bryn Mawr during her first year. She’s lived most of her life on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, and was for a time a book editor and for another time a book agent. Then she started writing for publication. Her first three books “Getting Over Tom,” “An Actual Life,” and “Herb’s Pajamas” were works of fiction. Her memoir, “A Three Dog Life,” was named one of the best books of 2006 by the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post. It won the 2006 Inspirational Memoir Award given by Books for A Better Life. She is also author of “Safekeeping,” a memoir, and “Thinking About Memoir.” She lives in Woodstock, New York, with her dogs. http://www.abigailthomas.net/
Penny Guisinger, Conference Director
Penny Guisinger had an idea for a conference a few years back, and believes it’s possibly the best idea she ever had. Annually, she welcomes writers to her part of the world and sees to it that they learn a lot, laugh a lot, and yearn to come back. Also an accomplished writer, she is the author of the book Postcards from Here, published by Vine Leaves Press in 2016. Twice named as a notable in Best American Essays and Pushcart nominated, she is the 2016 winner of the Maine Literary Award for short nonfiction. Other work has appeared in Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Rumpus, Guernica, the Brevity blog, Solstice Literary Magazine, Under the Gum Tree, multiple anthologies, and other places. She is an Assistant Editor at Brevity and a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine.