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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  • WAYNE KOESTENBAUM

    February 11, 2016 - 8:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special 8:00 pm event sponsored by the Nonfiction Writing Program, Wayne Koestenbaum will read from and talk about his work. Koestenbaum is a poet and cultural critic, whose books include My 1980s & Other Essays, Humiliation, Feelings Soft Art, and Pink Trance Notebooks. He holds an MA from Johns Hopkins University and a PhD from Princeton. He lives in New York City, where he is Distinguished Professor of English at the City University of New York Graduate Center.

    “Wayne Koestenbaum is one of the most original and relentlessly obsessed cultural spies writing today. His alarmingly focused attention to detail goes beyond lunacy into hilarious and brilliant clarity.” —John Waters

  • KORBY LENKER

    February 17, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Musician Korby Lenker will read from Medium Hero, a collection of short stories culled from his life on and off the road. Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, Lenker is clearly in love with the world and has the gift of making readers see things his way. Lenker is a musician and writer, and lives in the greater Nashville area.

    "Korby Lenker's keen control of narrative voice is spot-on in each of these stories — distinctive, disarming, entertaining, and completely convincing. The stylish, often funny, sometimes tongue-in-cheek tone of the book made it feel as if I were hearing the stories being spoken aloud to me late at night. I was thoroughly captivated by Medium Hero." ―Tim O'Brien

  • PAUL'S BOOK CLUB / FEBRUARY

    February 17, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Iowa City Public Library

    Paul's group will discuss Lila by Marilynne Robinson.

  • SEAN PRECIADO GENELL & UZODINMA OKEHI

    February 18, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Sean Preciado Genell will read from All the Help You Need, one of Paul Ingram’s Best Crime Books of the Season for 2015. All the Help You Need, from Iowa City's own Slow Collision Press, is the story of a cab driver who travels the streets of Iowa City at night with a talent for finding trouble. When he helps a fellow driver take revenge on a couple of young punks who have been robbing taxis, things spin out of control.

    Sean Preciado Genell received his MFA from New York University and is author of Haulin’ Ass and Business as Usual for Little Village. He lives with his wife, Liz Preciado Genell, and daughter in Iowa City where he also fronts punk blues band Illinois John Fever.

    “He is very, very funny and absolutely believable. He’s got a very, very nice style. I’m really high on this book.” —Paul Ingram

    Uzodinma Okehi will read from his new novel from Hobart Press, Over for Rockwell.  Of Okehi and his book, author Sean Manning says, "If you did an X-ray of Uzodinma Okehi's vascular system it'd look like a New York City subway map. His frenetic prose perfectly captures the chaos and beauty of the boroughs. Just don't read Over for Rockwell on the train. You'll miss your stop.”  Okehi's work has appeared in Pank, Hobart, Bartleby Snopes, and he is the author of the zine, Blue Okoye. He has an MFA in writing from New York University, and lives in Brooklyn.

  • MATT GRIFFIN

    February 19, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Matt Griffin will read from his new novel, Hide. Hide explores the issues of long-term commitment, aging, and gay love in America from the perspectives of two very different men who fell in love following WWII, when an open relationship would have cost them everything. For over half a century, this couple, one a taxidermist, and the other a veteran and factory worker, carved out a content and secluded life in a small North Carolina mill town. When age diminished one’s ability to care for the other after a stroke, the full scope and magnitude of the sacrifices they made for one another become apparent.

    Matt Griffin and his partner married on the day same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide. Their touching story made front-page headlines in the NYT. He is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

    “Reading Hide, I kept saying to myself, ‘At last!’: a novel that follows the trajectory of a marriage (in fact if not in name) between two men over the course of decades, and does so with grit, humor, and compassion. Hide is a welcome and important work." —David Leavitt

  • PHIL LATESSA

    February 21, 2016 - 2:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Phil Latessa will read from and talk about Surviving Vodka Toasts and Rampaging Elephants: A Journey to Life’s Purpose.  More than just a travelogue, the book tells the stories of twenty years of international experiences Latessa had working with volunteer physicians, nurses, educators and administrators; and how working with people from different cultures, races and religions gave him insights about tolerance, respect, careful planning and the importance of listening before talking.

    Latessa is former Vice President of the Iowa Hospital Association, Director of Program Evaluation at the Iowa Regional Medical Program, and Executive Director of Iowa Sister States, which manages Iowa's official relationships in nine countries. Now retired, he volunteers as Executive Director of Empower Tanzania Inc. He lives in Urbandale, Iowa.

    "Phil Latessa's work has improved the lives of thousands around the world and inspired many volunteers to give their time. His story is unique.” —Abraham Verghese, author of Cutting for Stone

  • IDRA NOVEY in conversation with GARTH GREENWELL

    February 24, 2016 - 6:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    In this special 6:30pm event, Idra Novey will read from her new novel, Ways to Disappear, and talk about her work with local author Garth Greenwell.
    Ways to Disappear is an inventive, brilliant debut novel about the disappearance of a famous Brazilian novelist and the young translator who turns her life upside down to follow her author's trail. Idra Novey's exhilarating debut is both a novel of ideas and a novel of intrigue, an innovative combination of mystery, noir, and humor.

    Idra Novey is the author of Exit, Civilian, which was a 2011 National Poetry Series Selection, and The Next Country. She is the translator of several books of Brazilian poetry and a novel by Clarice Lispector. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University.

    Garth Greenwell is the author of the recently published novel, What Belongs to You. He lives in Iowa City.

    "This amazing first novel is unlike any other you've ever read. Ways to Disappear is a lush page-turner, a journey into the unique madness of modern Brazil, and a joyful ride into the crazed passion of literary creation itself. Idra Novey is a wonder of a writer." ―Hector Tobar

  • AMY PARKER in conversation with MARCUS BURKE

    February 25, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Amy Parker will read from her new book of linked short stories Beasts & Children, and talk about her work with fellow Workshop graduate and classmate Marcus Burke. Kirkus Reviews summarizes: “These stories provide a vivid kaleidoscope of narratives. Characters appear as children and then reappear, later in the book, married and with children of their own. Their stories are told and retold from varying perspectives, which provide new insight into their histories in the same way that a mystery can be pieced together from new details. As Parker’s title suggests, animals and children take a central role in the book; in each story, they are the registrars of pain inflicted upon, and by, a grown-up world. This riveting collection executes a grim autopsy on American family life.”

    Amy Parker was born in Okinawa, Japan, and spent most of her childhood on diplomatic and military compounds overseas. She attended Indiana University, and won a Michener fellowship in fiction from the University of Texas, Austin. Afterward, she spent four years doing intensive monastic practice at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and at Green Gulch Farm and Zen Center. She received lay ordination in the Soto Zen lineage in 2007. She left the monastery for the Iowa Writers Workshop, from which she graduated in 2012. She lives in Wichita, Kansas.  

    Marcus Burke is the author of Team Seven and lives in Iowa City.

  • ETHAN CANIN in conversation with CURTIS SITTENFELD

    February 29, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop faculty member Ethan Canin will read from and talk about his amazing new novel, A Doubter’s Almanac, in this special in-conversation event with his former Workshop student, novelist Curtis Sittenfeld.

    In this eagerly anticipated, mesmerizing novel, Canin explores the nature of genius, rivalry, ambition, and love among multiple generations of a gifted family. In a starred review, Booklist describes the book as “Epic . . . thoroughly absorbing . . . a nuanced, heartbreaking portrait of a tortured mathematician . . . Canin, in translucent prose, elucidates the way a mathematician sees the world and humanity’s own insignificance within it. A harrowing, poignant read about the blessing and curse of genius.”  It is a story of how the flame of genius both lights and scorches every generation it touches. Graced by stunning prose and brilliant storytelling, A Doubter’s Almanac is a surprising, suspenseful, and deeply moving novel, a major work by a writer who has been hailed as “the most mature and accomplished novelist of his generation.”

    Ethan Canin is the F. Wendell Miller Professor of English at the Writers’ Workshop, and a literary advisor to the Sun Valley Writers’ Conference. He is the author of the novels America AmericaCarry Me Across the Water, and For Kings and Planets, and the story collections The Palace Thief and Emperor of the Air. He and his wife, Barbara, have three children and split their time between Iowa City and the woods of northern Michigan.

    Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the best-selling novels, SisterlandAmerican WifePrep, and The Man of My Dreams. Her forthcoming novel, Eligible, will be published in April. She lives in St. Louis.