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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  • TIM JOHNSTON

    January 29, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City native Tim Johnston will return to Prairie Lights to read from his new novel, Descent. Described as literary fiction that is “the best of both worlds” by the Washington post, Descent has received high praise from authors including Mary Roach, who missed her flight to La Guardia because she was so absorbed.

    "Descent is the best novel I've read in a long time. Unlike most books that fall into the category of Page Turner, this one also falls in the category of Writing- So- Good- You- Can't -Even- Believe- It. Johnston has a superhuman gift for watching and listening to the world and rendering, on the page, its beauty and savagery with such detail and power that the story feels almost more like memory than something read." —Mary Roach

    Tim Johnston is the author of the prize-winning story collection Irish Girl. 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. 

  • WAPSIPINICON ALMANAC

    January 30, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for the annual Prairie Lights reading for The Wapsipinicon Almanac. This year marks the 21st edition, and contributors Ann Struthers, Jane Purcell, Mary Carson, Suzanne Kelsey, Loretta Ross, and Mike Lewis Beck will be reading at the event. Tim Fay, proprietor of the Route 3 Press in rural Anamosa, has edited and published the Wapsipinicon Almanac – roughly annually – using antique letterpress technology, since 1988. Each issue is a homey mix of fiction, reviews, essays, poetry, art and practical information, packaged in the format and feel of an old-time almanac. "Part New Yorker, part Farmers' Almanac, this magazine should silence anyone who thinks Iowa doesn't have a literary culture." —Joshua Kucera

  • LUIS BRAVO

    February 10, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Poet Luis Bravo will read from his new book, Liquen/Lichen, recently published by Song Bridge Press. Liquen/Lichen is a bilingual book with translation by William Blair and Pablo Rodríguez Balbontín.  

    Luis Bravo, a 2012 International Writing Program participant, is a poet and performer, essayist, literary investigator, and professor. Highlights of his recent works include: Árbol Veloz, a book and CD ROM of Uruguayan poetry with the participation of 20 artists, Liquen and its multiphonic recital Tamudando together with Berta Pereira, Ale Tuana, Pollo Píriz (music), and Dana Pássaro (dance): “Acción/Huellas” (audio and text), “Croa” recorded live in theater, Lluvia, a collection organized by Mercedes Roffé; and Areñal: ene topos bilingüese & other sounds recorded with John Bennett. Bravo’s poems have been translated for anthologies and international journals in Portuguese, German, Estonian, French, Swedish, English, and Farsi. 

  • AMBER DERMONT & JERICHO BROWN

    February 12, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    The Frank N. Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing will present the 2015 Visiting Writers-in-Residence Reading, featuring Jericho Brown and Amber Dermont.

    Jericho Brown’s first collection of poetry, Please, won the 2009 American Book Award; his second collection, The New Testament, was named one of the best books of 2014 by Library Journal. He holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of New Orleans, and a PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. He is the recipient of the Whiting Writer’s Award and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is currently an assistant professor in the creative writing program at Emory University in Atlanta.

    Amber Dermont is the New York Times bestselling author of the novel The Starboard Sea and the short story collection Damage Control. She received her MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. She is the recipient of a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and she is currently a faculty member at Rice University.

  • FORREST GANDER

    February 16, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Forrest Gander will read from his new novel, The Trace.  

    “I haven’t read many novels as spooky and sublime and psychologically acute as Forrest Gander’s The Trace. It’s the portrait of a couple in crisis and their misguided road trip through the Chihuahua Desert, on the tracks of the writer Ambrose Bierce. Gander’s landscapes are lyrical and precise, and his study of a marriage on the rocks is as empathetic as it is unsparing.” —Robyn Creswell, Paris Review staff picks

    Forrest Gander is the author of numerous poetry collections including Core Samples from the World, and Deeds of Utmost Kindness, the novel As a Friend and the translation Firefly Under the Tongue: Selected Poems of Coral Bracho. A United States Artists Rockefeller Fellow, Gander is recipient of fellowships from the NEA, the Guggenheim, Howard, and Whiting foundations. He is the Adele Kellenberg Seaver Professor of Literary Arts and Comparative Literature at Brown University. 

  • SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS

    February 19, 2015 - 5:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Senator Bernie Sanders will be here to read from his book The Speech: A Historic Filibuster on Corporate Greed and The Decline of Our Middle Class and to answer questions. Bernie Sanders is serving his second term in the U.S. Senate. His previous 16 years in the House of Representatives make him the longest serving independent member of Congress. He lives in Burlington, Vermont. The Speech presents Senator Sanders’ speech from December 10, 2010, in which he spoke for eight and a half hours calling to action the middle class in an effort to save themselves by becoming informed, organized, and prepared to take on the special interests in Washington.

    "Bernie Sanders is such a rarity, and people should appreciate what he's doing not just for his home state of Vermont, but for the reputation of all politicians in general." — Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

  • PAUL'S BOOK CLUB / FEB2015

    February 19, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Iowa City Public Library

    "We think we know the ones we love." So Pearlie Cook begins her indirect, and devastating exploration of the mystery at the heart of every relationship — how we can ever truly know another person.

    It is 1953 and Pearlie, a dutiful young housewife, finds herself living in the Sunset District in San Francisco, caring not only for her husband's fragile health, but also for her son, who is afflicted with polio. Then, one Saturday morning, a stranger appears on her doorstep, and everything changes. Lyrical, and surprising, The Story of a Marriage is, in the words of Khaled Housseini, "a book about love, and it is a marvel to watch Greer probe the mysteries of love to such devastating effect."

  • HILTON ALS

    February 20, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Essays — White Girls

  • HILTON ALS

    February 20, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, Hilton Als will talk about his book of essays, White Girls. White Girls weaves together Als’ brilliant analyses of literature, art, and music with fearless insights on race, gender, and history. The result is an extraordinary, complex portrait of "white girls," as Als dubs them—an expansive but precise category that encompasses figures as diverse as Truman Capote and Louise Brooks, Michael Jackson and Flannery O'Connor.

    Als is a staff writer for the New Yorker, and has also written for The Village Voice and The Nation, and was an editor-at-large at Vibe. He collaborated on film scripts for Swoon and Looking for Langston. The winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and writing awards from the New York Association of Black Journalists and the Guggenheim Foundation, he lives in New York City.  

  • SENATOR MATT MCCOY & JIM FERGUSON

    February 21, 2015 - 1:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Senator Matt McCoy and Jim Ferguson will talk about their new book, Senator McCoy, You’re Going Straight to Hell.

    Matt McCoy is Iowa's highest ranking openly gay legislator. McCoy has received hundreds of e-mails and letters on marriage equality, and Senator McCoy, You’re Going Straight to Hell presents the voice of citizens on both sides of the issue. They tell the impact of marriage equality on real people. The book features these stories in over 325 e-mails along with key occurrences in which McCoy was personally involved.

    Matt McCoy is the Iowa State Senator from the 31st District, which is composed of south and southwest Des Moines. A Democrat, McCoy has served in the Iowa Senate since 1997.

    Jim Ferguson served as McCoy's legislative clerk/assistant in the Iowa Senate. A former Iowa Citian, Ferguson was assistant principal when West High School opened, and he was later principal of South East Junior High when it was named among the best junior highs in the nation. Ferguson has served as a school administrator in Iowa, Texas and Michigan. A frequent conference presenter at the regional, state and national levels, he is the author of numerous state and national publications.