Storytelling in the Oil Patch

Writing Workshops Nov. 7 & 21

ota believes it’s just as important to harvest the stories coming out of western North Dakota as it is to capture the natural resources there. To achieve their goal, the North Dakota Humanities Council (NDHC) will send two professional writers with North Dakota roots to communities directly affected by the recent oil boom to host writing workshops exploring the ways oil is transforming the landscape and culture.

According to NDHC director Brenna Gerhardt, “Nothing is more important to a culture than its stories. They are the vehicles for transferring history, values and ideas from one generation to the next. Stories can endure for thousands of years, but oil development has a limited lifespan.”

The “Our People. Our Places. Our Stories. ,” writing workshops will allow residents of the Bakken the ability to share and preserve their stories under the guidance of professional storytellers Debra Marquart and Taylor Brorby.

A native of Napoleon, Debra Marquart is a professor of English at Iowa State University. A performance poet, Marquart is the author of two poetry collections: Everything’s a Verb and From Sweetness. Her memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing Up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, was published by Counterpoint Books in 2006. It received the “Elle Lettres” award from Elle Magazine and the 2007 PEN USA Creative Nonfiction Award.

In the seventies and eighties, Marquart was a touring road musician with rock and heavy metal bands. Her collection of short stories, The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories draws from her experiences as a female road musician.

A native of Center, Taylor Brorby is a writer based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Taylor has received grants and fellowships from Hamline University and St. Olaf College. His work has appeared on Minnesota Public Radio, in the journal Rock, Paper, Scissors, Augsburg Fortress Press, in newspapers, and The Huffington Post, where he writes on education.

Finished stories generated during the workshops will appear on the NDHC website. The NDHC will also publish a special issue of On Second Thought magazine in the summer of 2014 that will print the best stories generated at the workshops.

For more information on participating in the workshops, visit or contact Brenna Gerhardt at 800-338-6543.


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