June 9, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Cheri Register will read from her new book The Big Marsh: The Story of a Lost Landscape. Before 1900, Freeborn County Minnesota’s Big Marsh provided a wealth of resources for the neighboring communities. Families hunted its immense flocks of migrating waterfowl, fished its waters, trapped muskrats and mink, and harvested wood and medicinal plants. As farmland prices rose, however, the value of the land under the water became more attractive to people with capital. While residents fought bitterly, powerful outside investors overrode local opposition and found a way to drain 18,000 acres of wetland at public expense. Cheri Register stumbled upon her great-grandfather’s scathing critique of the draining and was intrigued. “The Big Marsh describes the glorious dreams, the grandiose schemes, the lies, the deception, the ignorance, the avarice, and the unheeded pleas of those who saw beauty where others saw a wasteland. Minnesota has lost more than 50 percent of its pre-settlement wetlands. In lyrical prose, Cheri Register tells us how this happened.” —Sue Leaf

    Cheri Register is the author of Packinghouse Daughter, which won a Minnesota Book Award and an American Book Award. She taught creative nonfiction writing at the Loft Literary Center for twenty years, and lives in Minnesota. 

  • High School Literary Review

    June 5, 2016 - 2:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us on Sunday afternoon to celebrate the literary magazines created by students at two area High Schools – the Review at City High and Fingerprints from Washington High. In this special multi-school event, students will read creative work published in the latest issues.

    City High’s literary magazine, the Review, is published twice yearly. Work in the magazine is curated from the blog,, an inclusive collection of student work that is updated twice a week. The print magazine can be found at the Iowa City Public Library.

    Fingerprints is the annual literary review published by the Washington Literary Press. The review was been awarded an Excellent by the National Council of Teachers of English and a First Place by the American Scholastic Press Association. Based at Cedar Rapids Washington High School, the press meets twice a week year-round and also publishes four issues of the literary zine The Unfortunate Mr. Farrows.

    Come out to hear our next generation of talented new writers!


    May 25, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate, Kevin Boyle, will read from his new collection of poems, Astir.  “Rich in detail and attentive in focus, Kevin Boyle’s poems rock back and forth between tenderness and irony. In language both fluent and metrical, they explore what it’s like to be alive and awake in today’s shifting cultural environment. Leavened with a fine wit and possessed of a restrained compassion for the male self coming to terms with the layers of his life, these are the sturdy poems of a grown man.”  — Dorianne Laux

    Kevin Boyle, a Philadelphia native, teaches at Elon University in North Carolina, where he lives with his family.  His first book, A Home for Wayward Girls, was selected by Rodney Jones as the winner of The New Issues Poetry Prize.


    May 22, 2016 - 5:00pm

    Coralville Public Library

    Award-winning, New York Times bestselling author Joe Hill will talk about and sign copies of his new book, The Fireman, at the Coralville Public Library. The Fireman is a novel about a terrifying worldwide pandemic of spontaneous combustion that threatens to reduce civilization to ashes. The pandemic is caused by Dragonscale, a highly contagious, deadly spore that tattoos its hosts with beautiful black and gold marks before causing them to burst into flames. Millions are infected; blazes erupt everywhere. There is no antidote. No one is safe.

    “[A] superb supernatural thriller . . . a tremendous, heartrending epic of bravery and love set in a fully realized and terrifying apocalyptic world, where hope lies in the simplest of gestures and the fullest of hearts.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    Joe Hill is the author of NOS4A2, Horns, and Heart-Shaped Box. He  is a two-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award, and a past recipient of the Ray Bradbury Fellowship. His stories have appeared in a variety of journals and Year's Best collections. He lives in New England.

    A reception will follow the reading and signing.



    May 22, 2016 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Best-selling author Craig Johnson will read from his new book, The Highwayman: A Longmire Story.  In The Highwayman, Wyoming Highway Patrolman Rosey Wayman is transferred to the beautiful and imposing landscape of the Wind River Canyon—an area the troopers refer to as no-man's-land because of the lack of radio communication— where she starts receiving officer needs assistance calls. The problem? They're coming from Bobby Womack, a legendary Arapaho patrolman who met a fiery death in the canyon almost a half-century ago.

    “The [Longmire] series continues to be fresh and innovative . . . Devoted series fans won’t feel a sense of déjà vu in Dry Bones, but they will easily identify Johnson’s tendency toward innovative imagery . . . crack dialogue, humor and a strong sense of place. Absaroka’s maker brings dem bones to life, and readers are sure to rejoice.” —Shelf Awareness

    Craig Johnson is the author of eight previous novels in the Walt Longmire series, the basis for the hit drama Longmire, now on Netflix. He has a background in law enforcement and education. He lives in Ucross, Wyoming, population twenty-five.



    May 20, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City author and musician Joseph Brisben will read from his newly published work of fiction, Marvin’s Garden.  “Marvin’s Garden is a refreshing take on a story that is all-too familiar . . . reminiscent of “All About Eve.” I loved the wonderful mixture of tones. Much of it is sad and horrifying, but there are places that made me laugh out loud, as when Madge tries to kill her abusive husband by over-feeding him. I love the animal revenge . . . and the note of hope.” —Richard Dyer

    Joseph Brisben has worked as an investment counselor and in college public relations. He has also worked as a reporter and copyreader. In college he studied English and American literature at the University of Chicago and at Drake University. He has been writing fiction off and on for more than four decades, and in recent years has taken classes with the Iowa Summer Writing Program. In addition to writing, Brisben sings, plays trombone and a number of folk instruments. He has four children and four grandchildren, and lives in Iowa City.


    May 19, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Current Writers’ Workshop student Anaïs Duplan will read from her new book of poetry, Take This Stallion, published by Brooklyn Arts Press. "I have never before read a book like Anaïs Duplan's Take This Stallion. Her major talent is recognizing the self in the other, making for poems that flow forward in a tone of oneness—is oneness a tone?—poems that make evident an ever-expanding world by opening themselves up into that world."
    —Jericho Brown

    Anaïs Duplan was born in Jacmel, Haiti. She is the director of a performance collective called The Spacesuits and of The Center for Afrofuturist Studies, an artist residency program in Iowa City. Her poems and essays have appeared in Birdfeast, Hyperallergic, The Journal, [PANK], and other publications.

    Louis Chude-Sokei will read selections from his forthcoming memoir, An Immigrant Alphabet.  Louis Chude-Sokei is the author of The Last Darky, finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction, and the most recent book, The Sound of Culture: Diaspora and Black Technopoetics. He currently teaches at the University of Washington, Seattle and is Editor-In- Chief of the newly revamped The Black Scholar, one of the oldest and most influential journals of Black thought in the U.S. His forthcoming books include An Immigrant Alphabet, and a critical work, Dr. Satan’s Echo Chamber: Essays in Dub.




    May 15, 2016 - 12:00pm

    The First Presbyterian Church, Ryerson Fellowship Hall, 2701 Rochester Ave.

    UIowa assistant professor of classics and religious studies Robert R. Cargill will speak at the Iowa City First Presbyterian Church. Dr. Cargill will talk about his new book, The Cities That Built The Bible, which introduces readers to a dozen cities that were formative in the stories behind the writing of, or the later understanding of the Old and New Testaments, and this lecture will be a reflection on the Spirit of God in the two testaments. Prairie Lights will have copies of The Cities That Built The Bible at the church for purchase.

    Robert R. Cargill has appeared in more than a dozen television documentaries, including Finding Jesus on CNN and Bible Secrets Revealed on History, and was the host of National Geographic’s Writing the Dead Sea Scrolls. He lives in Iowa City.

    “The most original and entertaining approach to telling the story of the Bible that I’ve seen . . . Anyone who wants to know how recent archaeological discoveries have revolutionized our understanding of the Bible should read this book.” —William Schniedewind, Ph.D. Prof of Ancient Eastern Mediterranean Studies at UCLA


    May 13, 2016 - 5:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us in celebrating the achievements of the Frank N. Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing graduating Certificate in Writing students! The event will feature a select number of students reading from and discussing their Capstone projects from 5-6pm, followed by a reception in the café with food and beverages from 6-7pm.


    May 11, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    december literary and arts magazine will celebrate the release of its newest issue with readings by current and former University of Iowa faculty and Writers’ Workshop graduates Marvin Bell, Christopher Merrill, David Hamilton, and Karen Holman.

    december is an iconic literary and arts magazine that was founded in Iowa City in 1958 and revived in 2013 after a 32-year hiatus. This event will celebrate its legendary roots in Iowa City. In its first incarnation, december introduced Raymond Carver to the literary world with his first-ever published story and launched the careers of countless other writers, including Joyce Carol Oates, Marge Piercy, Philip Levine, Rita Mae Brown, and Donald Hall, all of whom published their first or very early work in december.

    december continues to publish exceptional, thought-provoking poetry, prose, and art, championing the work of unheralded writers and artists, and celebrating fresh work from seasoned voices. A reception will follow in the Prairie Lights Café.