April 7, 2016 - 6:00pm
Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduates Paul Lisicky and Garth Greenwell will read from their new books. Paul Lisicky will read from his memoir, The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship. In The Narrow Door, Lisicky creates a compelling collage of scenes and images drawn from two long-term relationships, one with a woman novelist and the other with his ex-husband, a poet. “This is a portrait of friendship unlike any I’ve read. In embracing the fluidity of relationships—platonic and romantic, real life and idolatrous . . . it reminds us that true connection can be as fleeting and precious as true solitude. There is a unique honesty in that revelation—and also a great if surprising comfort.” —Meghan Daum
Lisicky is the author of Lawnboy, Famous Builder, Unbuilt Projects, and The Burning House. He has received fellowships from the NEA and the Michener/Copernicus Society, among others. He teaches in the MFA program at Rutgers University-Camden.
Garth Greenwell will read from What Belongs to You, a haunting novel of erotic obsession. The novel is set in Bulgaria, and begins when an American teacher encounters Mitko, a charismatic young hustler. Over the next few months their trysts grow increasingly intimate and unnerving as the enigma of this young man becomes inseparable from that of his homeland, a country with a difficult past and an uncertain future.
"A rich, important debut, an instant classic to be savored by all lovers of serious fiction because of, not despite, its subject: a gay man's endeavor to fathom his own heart." ―Aaron Hamburger, The New York Times Book Review
Garth Greenwell was a finalist for the Edmund White Award for Debut Fiction and a Lambda Award. He lives in Iowa City.
April 6, 2016 - 6:00pm
Nationally acclaimed Iowa City Poets Robyn Schiff and Mark Levine will read from their highly anticipated new books. This special 6pm event is co-sponsored with the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, The University of Iowa’s English Department and the Mission Creek Festival.
Robyn Schiff will read from A Woman of Property, her third collection. Located in a menacing, gothic landscape, the poems that comprise A Woman of Property draw formal and imaginative boundaries against boundless mortal threat. “I see everything differently now that I’ve experienced this world. Nobody writes like Robyn Schiff: her brilliance is singular, her vision compound.” —Brenda Shaughnessy
Schiff is the author of Revolver and Worth, and the chapbook Novel Influenza. Her honors include an award from the Academy of American Poets Greenwall Fund and inclusion in the Poetry Society of America’s 2007 Festival of New American Poets. She is a co-editor at Canarium Books and teaches Creative Writing in The English Department of The University of Iowa.
Mark Levine will read from Travels of Marco, a searing, inventive, darkly funny collection. “Mark Levine’s Travels of Marco is eerie and tough; stopping just short of elegy, his lyrics disgorge a feeling they’re too strong to name . . . These poems make me sad, they make me laugh, they kind of kill me. Do I understand them? I don’t know. They haunt me.” —Ariana Reines
Mark Levine is the author of Debt, Enola Gay, and The Wilds, and a book of nonfiction, F5. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award, an NEA grant, and a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton. He is on the permanent poetry faculty of The Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
March 30, 2016 - 7:00pm
Local author and ecologist Cornelia F. Mutel will read from her new book from The University of Iowa Press, A Sugar Creek Chronicle: Observing Climate Change from a Midwestern Woodland. In 2010, while editing a report on the effects of climate change in Iowa, Mutel came to grips with the magnitude and urgency of the problem. She already knew the basics: greenhouse gas emissions and global average temperatures are rising on a trajectory that could, within decades, propel us beyond far-reaching, irreversible atmospheric changes; the results could devastate the environment that enables humans to thrive. The more details she learned, the more she felt compelled to address this emerging crisis. The result is this book, an artful weaving together of the science behind rising temperatures, tumultuous weather events, and a lifetime devoted to the natural world. Climate change isn’t just about melting arctic ice and starving polar bears. It’s weakening the web of life in our own backyards.
Mutel is the author of Fragile Giants: A Natural History of the Loess Hills and The Emerald Horizon: The History of Nature in Iowa and the editor of A Watershed Year: Anatomy of the Iowa Floods of 2008, among many other books. She is Senior Science Writer at IIHR–Hydroscience & Engineering at the University of Iowa College of Engineering. She lives in rural Iowa City, Iowa.
March 29, 2016 - 7:00pm
In a special event co-sponsored by Canarium books, poet and translator Sawako Nakayasu will read from her poetry and her translations. Her translation of The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa, published by Canarium, is the first comprehensive collection of one of Japan's foremost modernist poets to appear in English. Her most recent book of poetry, The Ants, is described by John Yao as “ a rich, dense mélange of material derived from a breathtaking range of sources, including local customs, mistranslations and science fiction. You get the feeling that she has read everybody, from Gertrude Stein to Andre Breton to Rosmarie Waldrop, and made them her own. A feeling of dislocation, often inflected by a wise humor, spreads throughout the book.” She is also the author of the poetry collection Texture Notes, and the translator of Tatsumi Hijikata’s Costume en Face.
Nakayasu was born in Japan, raised in the US, and has lived in France and China. She has received fellowships from the NEA and PEN, and her own work has been translated into Japanese, Norwegian, Swedish, Arabic, Chinese and Vietnamese.
March 26, 2016 - 5:00pm
North Liberty publisher Steve Semken of Ice Cube Press will be joined by contributors Taylor Brorby, John Kenyon, Tyler Priest and Amy Weldon, who will read from Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America. This stunning new anthology brings together a choir of established and emerging writers, giving voice to the complexities of hydraulic fracturing across the United States. During a time in which so much information is known about fracking, artful writing is needed to move the public consciousness and national conversation towards better land practices. In the tradition of Wallace Stegner's This is Dinosaur, Terry Tempest Williams and Stephen Trimble's Testimony, and Rick Bass and David James Duncan's The Heart of the Monster, Fracture braids together essays, poems, and fiction to help bring new understanding to the plight of fracking.
March 25, 2016 - 7:00pm
Iowa City native Daniel Raeburn will read from his new book, Vessels: A Love Story.
Based on Raeburn’s acclaimed New Yorker essay, Vessels: A Love Story describes how Dan, a writer with a passion for underground comics, and his wife Bekah, a potter dedicated to traditional Japanese ceramics, were struck by tragedy as they prepared for the birth of their first child. In strong and unadorned prose, Raeburn recounts a marriage cemented by the same events that nearly broke it. Vessels is an unflinching, enormously moving account of intimacy, endurance, and love.
“Daniel Raeburn gets right down to the essentials: life, death, love, loss. There’s not a spare syllable here, and the telegraphic style has the odd effect of amplifying the profound questions the narrative raises, allowing them to resonate fully. Vessels is a beautiful book about the sheer, mysterious contingency of anyone being born at all.” —Alison Bechdel
Daniel Raeburn’s writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Tin House, and The Imp, his series of booklets about underground cartoonists. He and his wife and daughters live in Chicago, where he teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Chicago.
March 24, 2016 - 7:00pm
British writer Jonathan Lee will read from and talk about his new novel, High Dive, in a special in-conversation event with local author Garth Greenwell. High Dive takes place in September 1984. A bomb was planted at the Grand Hotel in the seaside town of Brighton, England, set to explode in twenty-four days when the British prime minister and her entire cabinet would be staying there. High Dive not only takes us inside this audacious assassination attempt a decisive act of violence on the world stage but also imagines its way into a group of unforgettable characters.
Jonathan Lee’s recent fiction has appeared in Tin House, Granta, and A Public Space, among other magazines. High Dive is his first novel to be published in the United States. He lives in Brooklyn, where he is a contributing editor for Guernica and a regular contributor to The Paris Review Daily.
Garth Greenwell is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the author of What Belongs to You.
"High Dive is a novel so smart and compassionate and beautifully written that it asks for total immersion. A reader will hold her breath for long, perfectly-paced stretches, and she will surface, dizzied, at the end.” —Lauren Groff
March 23, 2016 - 7:00pm
In a special event co-sponsored by the Iowa Translation Workshop, Jesse Lee Kercheval will read from her work. Her most recent translation, a bilingual collection, The Invisible Bridge/El Puente Invisible gathers many of the luminous, deeply philosophical poems of Circe Maia, one of the few living poets left of the generation which brought Latin American writing to world prominence.
Jesse Lee Kercheval is the author of fifteen books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. Her translations of the Uruguayan poets Circe Maia, Tatiana Oroño, Idea Vilariño, and Javier Etchevarren have appeared in the American Literary Review, the Colorado Review, Guernica, Ploughshares, Stand, World Literature Today, and The New Yorker. She is the recipient of two NEA grants; the most recent in 2015 for translation, and another for fiction in 1989.
Jesse Lee Kercheval is the Zona Gale Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin Madison.
“The world in its raging, rich variety fills these poems, overflowing into vivid images that root Maia’s political and social attention firmly in the real scenes and objects all around us. Her eye is unfailing—both generous and demanding—and her language does indeed build bridges, establishing solid but surprising connections between ideas and things. Kercheval’s masterful translations create yet another bridge, bringing Maia’s poetic vision across into English with an astonishingly beautiful music.” —Cole Swenson
March 14, 2016 - 7:00pm
Amber Tamblyn will return to Iowa City to read from her most recent book of poetry, Dark Sparkler. Tamblyn is an author, actress and director who has been nominated for an Emmy, Golden Globe and Independent Spirit Award for her work in television and film. She has three collections of poetry and prose, most recently Dark Sparkler, which explores the lives and deaths of child star actresses, with accompanying artwork by artists including Marilyn Manson and David Lynch. She reviews poetry for Bust Magazine and is a contributing writer for The Poetry Foundation and visiting Woodrow Wilson Fellow. She lives in Brooklyn.
“Amber Tamblyn’s Dark Sparkler is an elegy, a eulogy, a rhapsody, a rage. In these astonishing poems inspired by dead actresses, Tamblyn fiercely examines the spectacle of the actress as she lives and dies and how our hands and hearts linger on their lives.” —Roxane Gay
March 9, 2016 - 7:00pm
Iowa City native Tim Johnston will return to Prairie Lights to talk about his New York Times Bestselling novel, Descent, now out in paperback. Descent is the story of the Courtland family, who are taking a vacation in the Rocky Mountains before their daughter leaves for college. When Caitlin and her younger brother, Sean, go out for an early morning run and only Sean returns, the mountains become as terrifying as they are majestic.
Tim Johnston is the author of Irish Girl, and Never So Green. He holds degrees from the University of Iowa and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and currently teaches in the creative writing program at the University of Memphis.
“Easily one of the best literary thrillers I've ever read. Descent has it all: heart-pounding suspense, masterful plotting, great characters, superb writing, and an ending that will leave you gasping for air.” —Jonathan Evison