March 23, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Whip Smart author Melissa Febos will read from her new memoir, Abandon Me, in a special event co-sponsored by The Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program. In her dazzling Abandon Me, Febos captures the intense bonds of love and the need for connection—with family, lovers, and oneself. At once a fearlessly vulnerable memoir and an incisive investigation of art, love, and identity, Abandon Me draws on childhood stories, religion, psychology, mythology, popular culture, and the intimacies of one writer's life to reveal intellectual and emotional truths that feel startlingly universal. Portions from Abandon Me have won prizes from Prairie Schooner, StoryQuarterly, and the Center for Women Writers, and twice earned notice in the 2015 Best American Essays anthology. Febos serves on the executive board of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, and is an assistant professor of creative writing at Monmouth University and on the M.F.A. faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She lives in Brooklyn.

    “I have never read anything like Melissa Febos's Abandon Me. It's rare to read a book as generous as it is genius. Febos weaves familial stories, feminist stories, communal stories, literary stories, and love stories, all at once revealing much of where she's been and where we, her readers, might go if we dare. I don't know that I've ever felt more thankful to read a book.” —Kiese Laymon


    March 23, 2017 - 5:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    Award-winning Book of Aron author Jim Shepard will read from his much anticipated new short story collection, The World to Come. “Without a doubt the most ambitious story writer in America," according to The Daily Beast, Shepard’s new collection spans borders and centuries with unrivaled mastery.

    Jim Shepard is the author of seven novels, most recently The Book of Aron, which won the Sophie Brody Medal for Achievement in Jewish Literature from the American Library Association and the PEN/New England Award for fiction, and five story collections. Shepard’s short stories have been chosen for the Best American Short Stories, the PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, and a Pushcart Prize. He teaches at Williams College.

    "Like Alice Munro, Shepard has a knack for compressing a novel’s worth of life into thirty or forty pages. . . . It all adds up to a peculiar yet arresting vision, as Shepard lets you see a startling variety of dangers and conundrums through the eyes of characters who, poignantly or even despairingly, can’t quite summon the humanity that’s hidden away in them.”—Michael Upchurch, The Boston Globe


    March 22, 2017 - 7:01pm

    Iowa City Public Library

    Join Paul for Book Club on March 22nd at the Iowa City Public Library for a discussion of Mary Gordon's Final Payments.



    March 22, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Poets Prageeta Sharma and Alan Felsenthal will read from their work.  

    Prageeta Sharma is the author of Bliss to Fill, The Opening Question (selected by Peter Gizzi for the 2004 Fence Modern Poets Prize), Infamous Landscapes, and most recently, Undergloom, from Fence Books. Her poems and writing have appeared in Art Asia Pacific, Bomb, Boston Review, Fence, Indiana Review, The Literary Review, Vanitas, Women’s Review of Books, and other journals. Sharma is associate professor and director of the creative writing program at the University of Montana and is teaching this semester at The Iowa Writers Workshop.

    Alan Felsenthal’s Lowly, has just been  published by Ugly Duckling Presse. He co-founded The Song Cave with Ben Estes, and edited A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind: The Poems of Alfred Starr Hamilton. His writing has appeared in BOMB, The Brooklyn Rail, Critical Quarterly, Fence, jubilat, and Harper’s. He is a graduate of The Iowa Writers’ Workshop.


    March 21, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Jennifer Colville and Paula Cisewski will read from their new work.  

    Iowa City author Colville will read from her new book of short stories, Elegies for Uncanny Girls, published by Break Away Books. George Saunders calls Elegies "An electrifying debut: wild, wry, wise, and a little terrifying in the bold truths it tells. Colville is a bountiful and precise stylist, honing in on the vital questions with freshness and verve." Jennifer Colville received her MFA from Syracuse University and her PhD from the University of Utah. Her fiction has appeared in DIAGRAM, Mississippi Review, Iowa Review, Literary Review and the Huffington Post. She is the founding editor of Prompt Press, a journal for visual art inspired by writing and writing inspired by visual art.

    Poet Paula Cisewski will read from her new books of poetry Quitter and The Threatened Everything, both newly released this year. The Threatened Everything was selected for publication in the 2014 Burnside Review Book Contest, and Quitter won Diode Editions' 2016 Book Prize. Cisewski is also the author of Ghost Fargo (selected by Franz Wright for the Nightboat Poetry Prize), Upon Arrival, and a chapbook of lyric prose, Misplaced Sinister. She holds a BA from St. Catherine's University and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.


    March 16, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Poets Craig Morgan Teicher and Brenda Shaughnessy will read from their most recent collections of poems.  

    Craig Morgan Teicher will read from his new collection of poetry, The Trembling Answers. A master of neo-confessional poetry, Teicher charts new territory in this fierce exploration of family, fatherhood, and poetry. "The Trembling Answers . . . is a portrait not only of the speaker (who is handsome, he claims … as long as he avoids the mirror) but of any human being who refuses to delude himself as life's options narrow and love deepens, sharpens, extracts its beautiful dues from us. Humor and fearlessness pulse through these poems.” —Catherine Barnett  Craig Morgan Teicher is the author of four books of poetry and fiction and the editor of Once and For All: The Best of Delmore Schwartz (2016). A prolific critic and reviewer of poetry, he has worked at Publishers Weekly for 10 years, where he is currently Director of Digital Operations. He teaches at New York University and Princeton University.

    Brenda Shaughnessy will read from So Much Synth, her brave and ferocious new  collection composed of equal parts femininity, pain, pleasure, and synthesizer. While Shaughnessy tenderly winces at her youthful excesses, we humbly catch glimpses of our own. "Shaughnessy's voice is smart, sexy, self-aware, hip . . . consistently wry, and ever savvy."—Harvard Review  Brenda Shaughnessy is the poetry editor-at-large at Tin House magazine, and is Assistant Professor of English and MFA Program at Rutgers–Newark. She is the author of Our Andromeda, Human Dark with Sugar, and Interior With Sudden Joy. So Much Synth was named one of the best poetry collections of 2016 by The New York Times.


    March 9, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Sensei John Gendo Wolff will read from The Driftwood Shrine.  As a new approach to the West's evolving understanding of Buddhism, The Driftwood Shrine is the first collection of Zen teachings to be based on the poems of great American writers. In forthright, often surprising language, Wolff explains how Emily Dickinson, William Carlos Williams, H.D., Richard Wright, and many other poets enshrined the gentle light of the Buddha's teaching in their work.

    John Gendo Wolff is Spiritual Director at Great Wave Zen Sangha in Ludington, Michigan. He has published numerous poems and essays in literary magazines and in the anthology Beneath a Single Moon: The Legacy of Buddhism in American Poetry. He appears in the forthcoming video documentary "Zen in America" and is a member of the governing board of the White Plum Asanga. He has been a Zen Practitioner for over 30 years.

    “Rather than treating Zen as an exotic import from the East, this wonderful series of meditations discerns and extracts its essence from the heart of American poetry.”— Stephen Batchelor


    March 8, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Albert Goldbarth will read from his new collection of essays from Graywolf Press, The Adventures of Form and Content. Goldbarth's essays have pioneered and inspired new forms of nonfiction writing for thirty years. Robert Atwan, the series editor for The Best American Essays says, "These essays are a whole new breed . . . Goldbarth has spliced strands of the old genre with a powerful new genre--and the results are miraculous." The Adventures of Form and Content is a new, ingenious work of hilarity and humanity that reminds us of the capabilities and impossibilities of art. In topics ranging from the checkered history of sci-fi and pulp fictions, the erotic poetry of Catullus and the gravelly songs of Springsteen, the high gods and the low-down blues, prehistoric cave artists and NASA astronauts, illness and health, and the discovery of planets and the discovery of oneself inside an essay, this book becomes an adventure of author and reader, form and content.

    Albert Goldbarth has published numerous volumes of poetry and has won the National Book Critics Circle award for Saving Lives and Heaven and Earth: A Cosmology, and he is the only poet to receive the honor two times. He is the author of five previous collections of essays, including Many Circles: New and Selected Essays. He lives in Wichita, Kansas.

    This special event is co-sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program.


    March 5, 2017 - 2:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Edward McClelland will talk about How to Speak Midwestern, his witty and informative guide to the speech patterns of the people in the flyover states. This book explains not only what Midwesterners say but also how and why they say it and covers such topics as: the causes of the Northern cities vowel shift, why the accents in Fargo miss the nasality that's a hallmark of Minnesota speech, and why Chicagoans talk more like people from Buffalo than their next-door neighbors in Wisconsin. 

    "Learning to speak Midwestern: Can there be any more urgent national task? . . . Unto the breach steps Edward McClelland’s How to Speak Midwestern, a dictionary wrapped in some serious dialectology inside a gift book trailing a serious whiff of Relevance. " —The New York Times

    Edward McClelland is a journalist whose writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Salon. He is the author of Nothin' But Blue Skies and Young Mr. Obama. He lives in Chicago. 


    March 4, 2017 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Local Children’s book author Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Iowa City illustrator Claudia McGehee will read from Creekfinding: A True Story. Set in the Iowa Driftless region of high bluffs and deep valleys, Creekfinding tells the story of a man who works to uncover and reclaim a "lost" creek that had been filled in and buried under his farm. By looking at old pictures, he locates where the creek ran, and begins to uncover its buried creek bed. With bulldozers and excavators carving the curves and runs, the creek slowly comes to life—with dragonflies, leopard frogs, bluebirds, and herons—and eventually, bright orange brook trout. Creekfinding reminds us all that we can work to make a difference and restore parts of the world that have been lost or degraded,  and we can effect positive change in our environment.

    Jacqueline Briggs Martin has written more than fifteen picture books including the Caldecott Award–winning Snowflake Bentley, Chicken Joy on Redbean Road and Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table. Claudia McGehee is the illustrator and author of A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet, A Woodland Counting Book, and My Wilderness. Most recently, she illustrated North Woods Girl.

    A reception in the café will follow.