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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    August 28, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    University of Iowa instructor Daniel Boscaljon will read from his book Vigilant Faith: Passionate Agnosticism in a Secular World. Boscaljon proposes a model of faith for believers and unbelievers alike — a passionate agnosticism — that is rooted in a skeptical consciousness. Skepticism and faith are structurally similar, he writes, in that they share an "unknowing" quality. He argues that vigilance — the act of keeping watch, a spiritual practice in its own right — is as necessary a precondition for the structure of faith as it is for the structure of skepticism.

    Daniel Boscaljon is an instructor at the University of Iowa and the editor of Resisting the Place of Belonging: Uncanny Homecomings in Religion, Narrative, and the Arts.

    “Unlike some academic philosophy, which is as hard to connect to the mundane as string theory, Vigilant Faith has a purpose outside the academy: It invites the reader to participate in a process of finding a way of faith, without asking them to, as Mark Twain would say, “swallow any stretchers.” —Kent Williams


    September 3, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Chris Leslie-Hynan will read from his provocative debut novel, Ride Around Shining.

    Ride Around Shining tells the story of a young white chauffeur and his wealthy black employer, an NBA player, in a discomfiting portrait of envy and obsession.

    Ride Around Shining is a West Coast, twenty-first-century Gatsby, warped through the lenses of race and class, and similarly obsessed with those very American anxieties of money, ambition and authenticity. This is the best and one of the bravest novels I’ve read in years.” — Benjamin Hale

    Chris Leslie-Hynan is originally from Wisconsin and attended Carleton College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Portland, Oregon. 


    September 5, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event co-sponsored by the IWP, poet and translator Kazim Ali will read from his recent books, Sky Ward, and his translation of Sohrab Sepehri’s poetry, The Oasis of Now. Kazim Ali is the author of the poetry books Sky Ward, Bright Felon, The Far Mosque, and The Fortieth Day, as well as novels, essays, and translations, including the essay collection Orange Alert. A founding editor of Nightboat Books, his poetry has been featured in Best American Poetry, and Ali is a regular columnist for the American Poetry Review. He is an associate professor of creative writing and comparative literature at Oberlin College and teaches in the low-residency Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. He lives in Oberlin, Ohio.

    “Ali is one of the very few poets now writing dedicated to the enlargement (rather than the abandonment) of the lyric mode. With these new poems, he has opened a wide, new space for the music of what happens and shown us a worthy, if challenging, task for that music.” —Donald Revell


    September 9, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    John Scalzi will read from his blazingly inventive near-future thriller Lock In. Scalzi is one of the most popular and acclaimed Science Fiction authors to emerge in the last decade. His massively successful debut Old Man’s War won him science fiction’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His New York Times bestsellers include The Last Colony, Fuzzy Nation, and Redshirts; which won 2013’s Hugo Award for Best Novel. Material from his widely read blog “The Whatever” ( has also earned him two other Hugo Awards. He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter.


    September 11, 2014 - 8:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, Hope Edelman will read from and talk about her nonfiction writing. Hope Edelman is the author of six nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, and The Possibility of Everything. Her books have been published in 17 countries and 11 languages and have almost a million copies in print. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour, Child, Self, Real Simple, and Writer’s Digest and she is sought after as a personal essayist whose work has appeared in many anthologies. She lives in Topanga Canyon, California, with her husband and two daughters. She teaches writing at Antioch University-LA year round, and at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival every July.


    September 15, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    New York Times bestselling author and Iowa City native Chelsea Cain will read from her new thriller, One Kick. One Kick tells the heart-pounding story of a twenty-one year old child abduction survivor trained in martial arts and expert by experience in the criminal mindset, and what happens when she sets out to track down some recently abducted children.  

    Chelsea Cain is the author of the thrillers Heartsick, Sweetheart, Evil at Heart, The Night Season, Kill You Twice, and Let Me Go. Heartsick was named one of the best 100 thrillers ever written by NPR, and her books have been featured on HBO’s True Blood and on ABC’s Castle. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter.


    September 16, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Paul's Book Club selection for September is The Lieutenant by Kate Grenville. Kate Grenville brings alive the rigors of life in the newly established penal colony in Sydney Harbor and the thrill and excitement of the first exchange of information across two unintelligible languages. The first encounters of two cultures are told from the unique perspective of a gentle mathematician, who begins to empathize with the native tribes, to the lasting detriment of his military and scientific career. 

    A stunning follow-up to her Commonwealth Writers' Prize-winning book The Secret River, Grenville's The Lieutenant is a gripping story about friendship, self-discovery, and the power of language, set along the unspoiled shores of 1788 New South Wales.


    September 16, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Iowa City Public Library

    Melissa Gilbert, author and actor of the beloved t.v. show Little House on the Prairie, will visit the Iowa City Public Library to talk about her new book. In My Prairie Cookbook, Gilbert offers Little House fans comforting family recipes and childhood favorites, along with personal recollections and memorabilia. With answers to the most-asked questions from fans— on topics including the biggest bloopers, on-set romances, and what Michael Landon was really like — My Prairie Cookbook is a cherished memento for Little House fans and fans of simple prairie cooking alike.

    Gilbert, in addition to her work as an actor and with the Screen Actors guild, is the author of the memoir Prairie Tale and the children’s book Daisy and Josephine.  


    September 17, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    University of Iowa professor Cornelia Mutel and University of Wyoming professor Robert Ettema will talk about their book, Hans Albert Einstein: His Life as a Pioneering Engineer. In this new biography and study of river behavior, Ettema and Mutel engagingly describe the work of Hans Albert Einstein —and his search to understand and unravel the complexities of rivers and sediment.

    Cornelia F. Mutel is a Senior Science Writer at IIHR-Hydroscience & Engineering, University of Iowa College of Engineering. She has written books and articles on topics ranging from natural history to ecological restoration to the history of engineering.

    Robert Ettema is a professor at the University of Wyoming, who also extensively consults for agencies and industry, and has served as Editor of ASCE's Journal of Hydraulic Engineering.


    September 19, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Graywolf Poets Matthea Harvey, Katie Ford and Jim Moore will read from their most recent books.

    Matthea Harvey will read from her newly released book, If the Tabloids Are True What Are You?  Harvey is the author of Sad Little Breathing Machine, Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of the Human Form, Of Lamb, and Modern Life, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, a New York Times Notable Book, and winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. She has written two children’s books and is a contributing editor to jubilat, Meatpaper, and BOMB. She teaches poetry at Sarah Lawrence and lives in Brooklyn.

    Jim Moore will read from Underground. Jim Moore is the author of seven books of poetry, including Invisible Strings and Lightning at Dinner. His poetry has appeared in the New Yorker, the Nation, and the Paris Review. He lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Spoleto, Italy.

    Katie Ford will read from Blood Lyrics. Katie Ford is the author of two previous poetry collections, Colosseum and Deposition. She has received a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Larry Levis Reading Award. She lives in Philadelphia and teaches at Franklin & Marshall College.