February 8, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Michael Tisserand will talk about his epic and revelatory biography, Krazy:
    George Herriman, a Life in Black and White
    George Herriman was a cartoonist most famous for his comic strip Krazy Kat, which ran in newspapers across the country from 1913-1944. Herriman used his work to explore the human condition, creating a modernist fantasia inspired by the landscapes he discovered in his travels from chaotic urban life to the Beckett-like desert vistas of the Southwest. Yet underlying his own life and often emerging from the contours of his very public art was a very private secret: known as "the Greek" for his complexion and curly hair, Herriman was actually African American, born to a prominent Creole family that hid its racial identity in the dangerous days of Reconstruction.

    Herriman's work has been a primary influence on cartoonists such as Will Eisner, Charles M. Schulz, Robert Crumb, Art Spiegelman, Bill Watterson, and Chris Ware, who says: “For decades I’ve been hoping for a new, experimental African-American voice to emerge in the language of comics, but Michael Tisserand’s Krazy draws back the curtain on the one who’s been with us all along. A true archeological dig through the details of George Herriman’s Creole origins and the racial bigotry his family faced in Louisiana before reinventing themselves in California as white, Krazy reconnects the leads of the greatest comic strip ever to its tragic source, illuminating not only its poetic complexities, but also allowing it to burn as brightly as all of the great art of the twentieth century.”

    Michael Tisserand is the author of The Kingdom of Zydeco, which won the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award for music writing, and the Hurricane Katrina memoir Sugarcane Academy. He lives in New Orleans.


    February 5, 2017 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Local author Bridgid Ruden will talk about her new book, Discovering My Life's Purpose: From Tragedy to Triumph!  In 2008, Ruden suffered severe traumatic brain injury following a bicycle accident. Her life resumed as if she were a three-year-old having to relearn many of the life skills that she lost as a result of her injury. This story chronicles her journey – waxing and waning – towards healing.

    "Bridgid's presentation as a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) survivor is profound, miraculous and engaging. Her voice of expression paints the terrain of every emotion that one goes through when life presents a major shift in who you are, what you do and how you navigate through breath at a time."
    —Dr. Jane F. Bourgeois



    February 3, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Dometa Brothers will read from Cold Songs, her poetry collection of the harsh and beautiful Midwest and the sturdily pragmatic, yet bizarrely idealistic people, it produces. “In the tradition of Annie Dillard, Mary Oliver, and Peter Matthiessen, Brothers encounters nature as a mirror, a window, a door, a conduit to a better understanding of ourselves.” – Benjamin Percy

    Dometa Wiegand Brothers is a native of the north woods of Wisconsin. She holds a BA and an MSTE from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point and a PhD from Washington State University. She is the author of the scholarly monograph On All Sides Infinity, as well as numerous articles and book chapters. Her poetry has also been anthologized in Prairie Gold: An Anthology of the American Heartland. She lives and writes in central Iowa.


    January 31, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, Bedell Distinguished Visiting Professor Meghan Daum will read from her work. Author Roxane Gay says, “Daum writes with confidence and an elegant defiance of expectation . . . There is no doubt Daum is a brilliant, incisive essayist. I would follow her words anywhere.”

    Meghan Daum is the author of the essay collections The Unspeakable: And Other Subjects of Discussion, which won the 2015 PEN Center USA Award for creative nonfiction, and My Misspent Youth. Her other books include the novel The Quality of Life Report, and Life Would Be Perfect If I Lived In That House, a memoir. She is the editor of the NYT bestseller Selfish, Shallow & Self-Absorbed: Sixteen Writers  on the Decision Not To Have Kids. She is an opinion columnist at The L.A. Times, and has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and Vogue. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and an NEA fellowship, and is an adjunct associate professor in the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University's School of the Arts.


    January 29, 2017 - 1:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    University of Iowa Law School Alumnus Douglas J. Patton will read from his new book, The White Guy in the Room: A Political Memoir. It is the story of Patton's journey from a young naïve college student from rural Iowa to a key and seasoned political player in the empowerment of blacks in America. The White Guy in the Room looks back on Patton’s Civil Rights work, campaign career, and decades of political work for Democrats. “Patton’s well-told account is a must read for anyone interested in race, urban studies and political sacrifice.” —Harry Jaffe

    Patton has consulted on political campaigns for Ed Mezvinsky, Hubert Humphrey, Harold Hughes, Marion Barry and Barack Obama. He has served as Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development for the District of Columbia; was on two bank boards, and served as an ex-officio representative from the U.S. House of Representatives on the Federal Election Commission for over eighteen years.                                                 


    January 25, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Prairie Lights and the Frank N. Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing are pleased to present a reading to celebrate the launch of INK LIT MAG No. 11. Created by and for students, INK LIT MAG is an undergraduate literary review at the University of Iowa, dedicated to showcasing the work of first-year students and alumni of the Iowa Writer's Living Learning Community. Daniel Khalastchi, Director of the Magid Center, will introduce the event—please join us to hear the first public reading from the next generation of stunning young writers. A celebratory reception will be held in the Prairie Lights café immediately following the reading.


    January 23, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Charles Monroe-Kane will read from his memoir, Lithium Jesus. Born into an eccentric Ohio clan of modern hunter-gatherers, he grew up hearing voices in his head. Over a dizzying two decades, he was many things—teenage faith healer, world traveler, smuggler, liberation theologian, ladder-maker, squatter, halibut hanger, grifter, environmental warrior, and circus manager—all the while wrestling with schizophrenia and self-medication.

    Charles Monroe-Kane has won a Peabody Award for his work as a senior producer and interviewer for the program To the Best of Our Knowledge, broadcast on 220 public radio stations. He has reported for National Public Radio’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered. “This humble, funny, raw (yes, sex) book is a pell-mell kaleidoscope of faith, drugs, bawdy behavior, and mental illness that resolves not in soft focus or shattered glass but in the sweet important idea that there are many ways to be born again.” —Michael Perry


    January 20, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for the annual Prairie Lights reading for The Wapsipinicon Almanac. This year marks the 23rd edition, and Tim Fay will host the event joined by contributors  Brent Watkins, Dan Ehl, Mike Wilson, Mark Edwards, Rustin Larson and co-authors Nancy Wyland and Leslie Caton.

    Tim Fay, proprietor of the Route 3 Press in rural Anamosa, has edited and published The Wapsipinicon Almanac – roughly annually – using antique letterpress technology, since 1988. Each issue is a mix of fiction, reviews, essays, poetry, art and practical information, packaged in the format and feel of an old-time almanac. “Part New Yorker, part Farmers’ Almanac, this magazine should silence anyone who thinks Iowa doesn’t have a literary culture.” —Joshua Kucera


    January 19, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Emily Fridlund will read from History of Wolves, her beautiful and mysterious novel set in eerie 1970’s Minnesota lake country. The protagonist is a 14 year-old girl, product of a now defunct commune who lives with her inattentive hippie parents in a secluded rudimentary shack. Her worldview is muddled by memories of the commune, and her mostly solitary life opens up when a young couple moves in across the lake with a sickly child for her to babysit, and rumors of a teacher’s abuse cause her to reach out to a fellow student.

    Emily Fridlund  grew up in Minnesota and currently resides in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her fiction has appeared in Boston Review, Zyzzyva, Five Chapters, New Orleans Review, New Delta Review, and The Portland Review. Fridlund’s collection of stories, Catapult, won the Mary McCarthy Prize and will be published by Sarabande in 2017.

    “So delicately calibrated and precisely beautiful that one might not immediately sense the sledgehammer of pain building inside this book. And I mean that in the best way. What powerful tension and depth this provides!”—Aimee Bender


    January 18, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights


    “A profoundly moving novel, and an honest and true one . . . The Nolans lived in the Williamsburg slums of Brooklyn from 1902 until 1919 . . . Primarily this book is about daughter, Francie. She is a superb feat of characterization, an imaginative, alert, resourceful child. And Francie’s growing up and beginnings of wisdom are the substance
    of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn." —New York Times

    This was a favorite book of mine, when I was in my early teens. I’ve read it twice since and the reading experience has not diminished in the least. American GI’s during WWII read the book and wept, dreaming of life in America. Selected as one of the Books of the Century by The New York City Public Library.