Prairie Lights

Live From Prairie Lights

Archive“Live from Prairie Lights” is an internationally known readings series, which features some of the best up-and-coming and well-established authors & poets from all over the globe. Presented before a live audience and streamed over the world wide web, this long running series brings the spoken word from the bookstore to the masses.
Most readings begin @ 7:00 p.m. Arrive early to assure yourself a seat.

The Writing University live streams many of our readings here.
The Live from Prairie Lights audio archive is available here.
Iowa City PATV has a video archive of readings located here.
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    October 22, 2014 - 7:00pm


    Winner of the American Book Award, Jeff Biggers, will read from his newly released in paperback book, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland. Reckoning at Eagle Creek was the recipient of the David Brower Award for Environmental Reporting and the Delta Prize for Literature.

    "Part historical narrative, part family memoir, part pastoral paean, and part jeremiad against the abuse of the land and of the men who gave and continue to give their lives to (and often for) the mines, Reckoning at Eagle Creek puts a human face on the industry that supplies nearly half of America's energy . . . it offers a rare historical perspective on the vital yet little considered industry, along with a devastating critique of the myth of 'clean coal.'"—Publishers Weekly

    Biggers  is the author of five books of narrative non-fiction. His stories have appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Nation, The Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and NPR. He serves as Writer-in-Residence at the UI Office of Sustainability. 


    October 23, 2014 - 7:00pm


    In a special event sponsored by the Nonfiction Writing Program, Michael Paterniti will talk about his book, The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese. 

    Michael Paterniti is the New York Times bestselling author of Driving Mr. Albert: A Trip Across America with Einstein’s Brain. His writing has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic, Harper’s, Outside, Esquire, and GQ, where he works as a correspondent. Paterniti has been nominated eight times for the National Magazine Award, and is the recipient of a NEA grant and two MacDowell Fellowships. He is the co-founder of a children’s storytelling center in Portland, Maine, where he lives with his wife and their three children.


    October 24, 2014 - 7:00pm


    Join editor Harry Stecopoulos as he hosts a reading of prose and poetry from the Fall 2014 issue of The Iowa Review. James Galvin and Lia Purpura will read their work from the new issue.

    James Galvin has published seven books of poems, most recently As Is, and two prose works. Galvin’s honors include a Lila Wallace–Readers Digest Foundation Award, a Lannan Literary Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He teaches at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

    Lia Purpura is the author of On Looking, King Baby, Increase, Stone Sky Lifting, The Brighter the Veil, and Rough Likeness. Her awards include a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, NEA and Fulbright fellowships, and three Pushcart prizes.  She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she was a Teaching/Writing Fellow in Poetry and she is currently Writer in Residence at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. 

    A reception in the Prairie Lights Café follows this evening's reading.


    October 26, 2014 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    International Writing Program residents Sabata-mpho Mokae (South Africa) and Anja Utler (Germany) will read at this free event.

    Sabata-mpho MOKAE (poet, nonfiction and fiction writer; South Africa) is the author of the poetry collection Escaping Trauma (2012) and the biography The Story of Sol T. Plaatje (2010). His debut novel in Setswana, Ga Ke Modisa [I’m Not My Brother’s Keeper] (2012) won two national awards; the youth novella Dikeledi [Tears] was launched in 2014. He is a columnist and editor at a daily newspaper, and a co-founder of the annual Sol Plaatje Literary Festival.

    Anja UTLER (poet, translator; Germany) is the author of the poetry collections jana, vermacht (2009), brinnen (2006), münden – entzüngeln (2004), aufsagen (1999), and of the poetological essay plötzlicher mohn (2007). Her latest book, ausgeübt. Eine Kurskorrektur, is a poetic exploration of prose. Translated into a dozen languages, her poems and essays circulate widely. An English translation of Utler’s poetry collection, engulf – enkindle, was a finalist for the 2012 Best Translated Book Award.


    October 27, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Mark Allister will talk about and sign copies of his book, Chasing the Light: The Cloud Cult Story. During the past decade, Minnesota-grown band Cloud Cult has become one of the most inspirational indie bands, with a deeply devoted fan base and an approach to music and the environment that is hard not to admire. Beyond a musical biography, Chasing the Light tells the story of the heartbreaking yet affirming journey of lead singer and songwriter Craig Minowa and delves into the career of the band known by music lovers as the least cynical and most idealistic band in the country. Chasing the Light is a testament to the profound influence one band’s personal evolution can have on its followers and on indie rock aficionados.

    Mark Allister is professor of English, environmental studies, and American studies at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He hosts a weekly radio show, "Prof Rock with Mark Allister."


    October 28, 2014 - 5:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Elizabeth Arnold and Ali Cobby Eckermann will read from their poetry.  

    Elizabeth Arnold has published four books of poems, The Reef, Civilization, Effacement, and Life. Her poems have appeared in Conjunctions, Paris Review, Poetry, and Slate. She is on the MFA faculty at the University of Maryland and lives in Hyattsville, Maryland.

    Ali Cobby Eckermann is a visiting poet from Australia with the International Writing Program. Eckermann’s first book of poetry Little Bit Long Time was published by the Australian Poetry Centre and she is the author of two verse novels, His Father’s Eyes and Ruby Moonlight, which was selected as the book of the year in the prestigious NSW Premier's Literary Awards.  


    October 30, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Spanish Reading for MFA of the visiting writers at Iowa.


    November 2, 2014 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    IWP residents Yeow Kai Chai (Singapore) and Franca Treur (Netherlands) will be joined by Iowa Writers' Workshop MFA candidate James Yu at this free event.

    YEOW Kai Chai (poet, fiction writer; Singapore) is the author of poetry collections Secret Manta (2001) and Pretend I’m Not Here (2006). His poems and stories have been widely published and anthologized. He is an editor at the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, and has been an editor and music critic for The Straits Times. His third poetry collection, One to the Dark Tower Comes, is forthcoming.

    Franca TREUR (fiction writer; Netherlands) won the 2010 Selexyz Debut Prize for her novel Dorsvloer vol confetti [Confetti on the Threshing Floor], which will be released as a feature- length film this fall. Her second novel, De woongroep [The Roommates], came out in early 2014. She contributes stories, columns and essays to NRC Handelsblad, Volkskrant, Groene Amsterdammer, radio 1 VPRO Nooit meer slapen and Vogue.


    November 3, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Artist, writer, and curator Matt Freedman will read from his memoir, Relatively Indolent But Relentless: A Cancer Treatment Journal. Freedman underwent radiation and chemotherapy at Massachusetts General Hospital for treatment of Adenoid Cystic Carcinoma, a rare cancer that had spread from his tongue to his neck to his lungs by the time it was discovered. Relatively Indolent But Relentless is the journal he kept in graphic novel form during that time, his 35-day course of treatment.

    Freedman has received a NEA fellowship in sculpture and New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in fiction writing. Recent solo shows of his artwork have been held at Pierogi, FiveMyles, Big&Small/Casual, Valentine and Studio 10 galleries in Brooklyn. Freedman is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Iowa. He teaches in the graduate fine arts and Visual Studies programs at the University of Pennsylvania.

    “Harrowing, hilarious, humbling, triumphant."—Lawrence Weschler


    November 4, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Seattle literary and culinary darling Kate Lebo will talk about her new cookbook, Pie School: Lessons in Fruit, Flour and Butter. Learn the tricks to making enviable baked goods and gluten-free crust while enjoying Kate Lebo's wonderfully humorous, thoughtful, and encouraging voice.

    After earning her MFA from the University of Washington, Kate opened her pastry academy, Pie School, in Seattle, WA. Her poems, essays, commentary, and recipes have appeared in Best New Poets, New England Review, Gastronomica, AGNI, and other places. Lebo has judged the Iowa State Fair Pie Contest, baked with Beth Howard at the American Gothic House, and won Best in Show at the first annual Cake vs. Pie Competition.