November 17, 2016 - 7:00pm
University of Iowa professors John McKerley, Shel Stromquist, and Eric Fure-Slocum will read from Civic Labors: Scholar Activism and Working-Class Studies. The essays in this collection examine the challenges and opportunities for engaged scholarship in the United States and abroad. A diverse roster of contributors discuss how participation in current labor and social struggles guides their campus and community organizing, public history initiatives, teaching, mentoring, and other activities. “. . . in this one volume we find a true community of scholars who seek to understand and change the world.”—Michael Honey
November 16, 2016 - 7:00pm
Vi Khi Nao will read from her new novel from Coffee House Press, Fish in Exile. Viet Thanh Nguyen says, “Vi Khi Nao takes on a domestic story of losing one’s children and elevates it to Greek tragedy. Refusing sentimentality and realism, she shows how personal devastation can feel, to the sufferer, as powerful and enduring as myth.”
Vi Khi Nao was born in Long Khanh, Vietnam. Her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. Her poetry collection, The Old Philosopher, was the winner of 2014 Nightboat Poetry Prize. She holds an MFA in fiction from Brown University.
November 15, 2016 - 7:00pm
Cristina Sánchez-Andrade will read from her newly translated novel,
The Winterlings. Enchanting as a spell, The Winterlings blends Spanish oral tradition, Latin American magic realism, and the American gothic fiction of Flannery O’Connor and Shirley Jackson into an intoxicating story of romance, the violent history of the Spanish Civil War, and the mysterious forces that move people.
Cristina Sánchez-Andrade is the author of eight novels, including Ya No Pisa la Tierra Tu Rey (Your King No Longer Walks this Earth), which won the Guadalajara International Book Fair’s prestigious Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz literary prize, and Las Inviernas (The Winterlings), which was a finalist for the Herralde Novel Prize in 2013. She lives in Madrid.
November 14, 2016 - 7:00pm
James Beard Award-winning author of Poor Man's Feast Elissa Altman will read from her powerful, heartfelt, and insightful memoir of one Jewish American's quest for identity in an unkosher world, Treyf. Every part of Altman’s youth was laced with contradiction and hope, betrayal and the yearning for acceptance: synagogue on Saturday and Chinese pork ribs on Sunday; bat mitzvahs followed by shrimp-in-lobster-sauce luncheons; her old-country grandparents, whose kindness and love were tied to unspoken rage, and her bell-bottomed neighbors, whose adoring affection hid dark secrets.
Elissa Altman writes the Washington Post column, Feeding My Mother, and her work has appeared everywhere from OnBeing.org and O, The Oprah Magazine to Tin House, the New York Times and the TEDx stage, and has been anthologized for five consecutive years in Best Food Writing.
November 13, 2016 - 4:00pm
Frances Cannon will read from her two recently published books of poetry. Tropicalia, published by Vagabond Press, is a collaboration with Filipino poet Mookie-Katigbak Lacuesta, who visited during last year's International Writing Program. Uranian Fruit, is a collection of Frances's poetry published by Honeybee Press in Vermont.
Frances Cannon is a writer and artist currently pursuing a master’s degree at the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, and teaches literature and creative writing at the University of Iowa. She was born in Utah and since then has lived and worked on her art and writing in Oregon, Maine, Montana, Vermont, California, France, Italy, and Guatemala. She is currently working on a graphic memoir, and has work forthcoming in Poetry magazine and The Iowa Review.
November 11, 2016 - 7:00pm
In a special event sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, Thalia Field will read from her new “tragic, comical, and utterly fascinating” essayistic fiction, Experimental Animals. "Stemming from a through-line of marital discord in the household of the great French vivisector, Claude Bernard, Thalia Field has discovered a number of voices, some famous, some forgotten, and allowed them all a moment in which to be heard again. This compelling tale is made up largely of excerpts and quotations, pieced together with great artistry. A beautiful and thought-provoking collage of a tale of rescued history and a sobering tribute to some of its victims." —Karen Joy Fowler
Thalia Field is the author of Point and Line, Incarnate: Story Material, and Bird Lovers, Backyard, all from New Directions. Her performance novel, Ululu, was published with Coffee House Press, and she has two collaborations with French author Abigail Lang: A Prank of Georges and the forthcoming Leave to Remain.
November 9, 2016 - 7:00pm
Writers’ Workshop graduate Michelle Falkoff and Pushcart Nominee Calla Devlin will read from their new Young Adult novels.
Michelle Falkoff will read from Pushing Perfect, a multi-layered mystery about a high school teen whose struggles to maintain perfect grades lead to performance-crippling anxiety attacks. After a friend offers her a drug to ace the PSAT’s, new pressures come from a mysterious blackmailer. “Twists and turns abound . . . Reminiscent of the novels of Joan Lowery Nixon and Lois Duncan.” — School Library Journal
Michelle Falkoff is the author of Playlist of the Dead, which was one of NPR's Great Reads in 2015. Falkoff is a Clinical Associate Professor of Law and the Director of the Communication and Legal Reasoning Program at Northwestern University. She lives in Chicago.
Pushcart nominee Calla Devlin will read from Tell Me Something Real. This novel is about three sisters who travel to a Mexican clinic across the border so that their mother, ill with leukemia, can receive alternative treatments. “An intriguing tale of illness, love, loss, and betrayal that is sure to reel in teens looking for something with a little bit of darkness hidden in the pages.” —School Library Journal
Devlin is the winner of the Best of Blood and Thunder Award, and her stories have been included in numerous literary journals and anthologies, including Because I Love Her: 34 Women Writers Reflect on the Mother-Daughter Bond, for which she was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Magazine. She lives in Des Moines.
November 5, 2016 - 12:00pm
Prairie Lights, The Mill, The Englert
12 pm: THE FAIL SAFE PODCAST: Alissa Nutting, Jessica Hopper & Rachel Yoder
This live podcast brings together writers Alissa Nutting and Jessica Hopper to discuss the creative process and all of its engrossing, infuriating, and invigorating aspects. Rachel Yoder, host and creator of The Fail Safe podcast, will moderate. Hopper is the author of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic, and Nutting is the author of Tampa.
2 pm: RESEARCHING THE AMERICAN DREAM: Aimee Groth & Timothy Denevi
Writers Aimee Groth and Timothy Denevi explore the American Dream through the prism of an ambitious corporate social engineering experiment and Hunter S. Thompson’s career. Groth is a business journalist for Quartz, a division of Atlantic Media Company, based in New York City. Denevi is the author of Hyper: A Personal History of ADHD.
4 pm: WRITERS OF COLOR at The Mill
Attendees must have Witching Hour festival passes, available at the Englert Theatre
Featuring undergrad and MFA writers of color, and visiting writer Rachel McKibbens.
6 pm: BROAD PERSPECTIVES:
Alea Adigweme, Teresa Mangum, Rachel McKibbens & Katie Roche
Female artists and activists Katie Roche, alea adigweme, Teresa Mangum, Merit Bickner, and Rachel McKibbens discuss why women seek out female-only spaces and how they operate differently.
7:30 pm: POSTHUMOUS BOOK TOUR FOR MAX RITVO
A reading dedicated to late poet Max Ritvo as part of his posthumous book tour for Four Reincarnations featuring: Kaveh Akbar, Gabrielle Calvocoressi, Michael Bazzett, Jane Mead, Justin Boening, Danny Khalastchi, Robyn Schiff, Devon Walker-Figueroa, and Timothy Taranto.
9 pm: THE WITCHING HOUR PRESENTS JEN KIRKMAN at The Englert Theatre
Attendees must have festival passes, available at the Englert Theatre http://www.witchinghourfestival.com/tickets
Comedian and author Jen Kirkman will perform at the Englert. Kirkman is the author of I Know What I'm Doing —and Other Lies I Tell Myself, and I Can Barely Take Care of Myself. Dubbed “a thinking person’s comedian” by the A.V. Club, Jen Kirkman makes you laugh and think with her stand-up set. Kirkman is the author of I Know What I'm Doing —and Other Lies I Tell Myself, and I Can Barely Take Care of Myself. Books will be for sale at the event.
10:30 pm: THE WITCHING HOUR PRESENTS JEN KIRKMAN
IN CONVERSATION WITH FRAN HOEPFNER at The Mill
Attendees must have Witching Hour festival passes, available at the Englert Theatre http://www.witchinghourfestival.com/tickets
After her stand-up set, comedian Jen Kirkman will sit down for an in-depth discussion on her writing and creative process. Kirkman is the author of I Know What I'm Doing —and Other Lies I Tell Myself, and I Can Barely Take Care of Myself. Books will be for sale at the event.
November 3, 2016 - 7:00pm
Poets Dana Levin and Justin Boening will read from their new collections,
Banana Palace and Not On The Last Day, But On The Very Last.
In Banana Palace, Dana Levin uses humor, jump-cut imagery, and pop culture references in preparation for the approaching apocalypse. Against a backdrop of Facebook, cat memes, and students searching their smartphones for a definition of the soul, Levin draws upon a culture of limited attention spans as it searches for greater spiritual meaning. Dana Levin has published three books of poetry, Wedding Day, Sky Burial, and In the Surgical Theatre, which won the APR/Honickman Award. A teacher of poetry for over twenty years, Levin splits her time between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Maryville University in St. Louis, where she serves as Distinguished Writer in Residence.
Justin Boening’s Not On The Last Day, But On The Very Last, was selected for The National Poetry Series by Wayne Miller. John Ashbery says that "his lines consistently elude our expectations but somehow encourage and fulfill them in doing so. Surprise is a recurring texture throughout these shimmering poems . . . Not on the Last Day, but on the Very Last is a stunning achievement.” Lucie Brock-Broido says that his work is "fearless, self-deprecating, ironic, sublime, heartbreaking, and beautifully wrought.” Justin Boening is also the author of chapbook, Self-Portrait as Missing Person. His poetry has received a Discovery/Boston Review Poetry Prize, fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference and The Vermont Studio Center. A graduate of Columbia University’s School of the Arts, Boening is currently a senior associate editor at Poetry Northwest and an instructor at the Columbia University Summer High School Program. He lives in Iowa City, IA.
November 2, 2016 - 7:00pm
The Englert Theatre
Prairie Lights presents Colson Whitehead at The Englert Theatre. Please join us for this FREE event with New York Times Bestselling author Colson Whitehead. He will read from and talk about his new novel, The Underground Railroad which has been selected for Oprah’s Book Club and is a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award. The novel manages to feel historical yet contemporary as a young slave, 15-year-old Cora, flees the antebellum South. Like the protagonist of Gulliver’s Travels, Cora encounters different worlds at each stage of her journey—hers is an odyssey through time as well as space. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre–Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America from the brutal importation of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day.
Colson Whitehead is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a MacArthur Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He is the author of The Intuitionist, John Henry Days, Apex Hides the Hurt, Sag Harbor, Zone One, The Colossus of New York, and The Noble Hustle. Prairie Lights encourages everyone to come to this momentous reading with one of the great writers of our time. Books will be available for purchase, and Colson Whitehead will be happy to sign books purchased at the event or from Prairie Lights. Every book purchase helps Prairie Lights bring great authors to Iowa City!