Live From Prairie Lights

"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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    March 24, 2018 - 2:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City author and photographer Ina Loewenberg will sign copies of her new memoir A Life à la Carte. Loewenberg tells how she moved from one passionate interest to another over her long life without hesitation and with appreciation for what a woman born in 1931 could and couldn’t achieve.

    Ina Loewenberg has worked as a teacher of philosophy, a tax preparer and a hospital internal auditor. She has twice been an older graduate student, earning degrees in philosophy and accounting. Most recently, she has been an active exhibiting photographer.

    * * Please note: a reading will not accompany this signing. * *



    March 26, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Geoffrey G. O’Brien will read from his new poetry collection Experience in Groups. In a time of ascendant fascism and creative political resistance, O'Brien demands that personal tragedies and joys find a pattern within national and global struggle. Publishers Weekly called his poetry “intriguing, thoughtful, and ambitiously layered, drawing from the past to hold a mirror to the present.”

    Geoffrey G. O'Brien is also the author of People on Sunday, Metropole, Green and Gray, and The Guns and Flags Project. He is the coauthor (with John Ashbery and Timothy Donnelly) of Three Poets: Ashbery, Donnelly, O’Brien and (in collaboration with the poet Jeff Clark) of 2A. O’Brien is an Associate Professor in the English Department at UC Berkeley and also teaches for the Prison University Project at San Quentin State Prison.


    March 28, 2018 - 7:00pm

    IC Public Library

    This month Paul and his book buddies are reading Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison.

  • PATRICK NATHAN in coversation with JOSEPH CASSARA

    March 28, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Patrick Nathan will read from his new novel, Some Hell, published by Graywolf Press. He will be joined in conversation with Writers’ Workshop graduate and author of The House of Impossible Beauties, Joseph Cassara to talk about Some Hell.  “A gripping account of the intricately woven mind of a teenager . . . Nathan has crafted an all-consuming novel in which topics like suicide, homosexuality, parenting, friendship, and psychology make up a precarious tableau in which readers can leave their own subjectivity behind and experience the world from Colin’s singular viewpoint . . . A magnetic first novel combining wit, sex, and apocalyptic reverie.”―Kirkus Reviews, starred review

    Patrick Nathan's short fiction and essays have appeared in Gulf Coast, Boulevard, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere. This is his first novel. He lives in Minneapolis.


    March 29, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Lan Samantha Chang, Director of the University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop  and Nan Cohen, Poetry Director of the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, will read from their recent work.

    Lan Samantha Chang's fiction has appeared in Atlantic Monthly, Story and The Best American Short Stories. She is the author of the award-winning books Hunger and Inheritance, and the novel All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost. She is the recipient of Wallace Stegner and Truman Capote fellowships at Stanford University and of a Guggenheim Fellowship.  "Lan Samantha Chang sees deeply into her characters, right down to their souls, and she wields her intelligence with the compassion of a master.” —Scott Spencer, author of Endless Love

    Nan Cohen is the author of two collections of poetry, Rope Bridge and Unfinished City. She was a Stegner Fellow and a Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University and has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Rona Jaffe Foundation. “By undertaking one of our greatest and abiding symbols, The Tower of Babel, Nan Cohen confidently asserts we speak our histories and lives in the bright language of poetry and in the dazzling prophecies of our songs.”—Major Jackson, author of Holding Company


    March 31, 2018 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    New York Times Bestselling author Tara Westover will read from her memoir, Educated, one of The New York Times Book Review’s Must-Know Literary Events of 2018. Born into an off-the grid survivalist family on a mountain in Idaho, Westover grew up stewing herbs, assisting her midwife mother, and working in her father’s metal scrap yard. Her deeply religious (and likely bipolar) father distrusted formal education (government brainwashing), so none of the seven children were sent to school, and the medical establishment was equally suspect, so all manner of serious health problems were treated at home.

    As a child, Westover achieved a basic grasp of reading, writing, herbal tincture making, and scrap yard work, along with learning selective bits of history and Mormon scripture.

    Tara began to educate herself, and learned enough mathematics and grammar to take the ACT. She was admitted to Brigham Young University, where her quest for knowledge transformed her. After graduating magna cum laude from Brigham Young University she won a scholarship to Cambridge University. She has a PhD in History from Cambridge.  She lives in London.

    “Breathtaking, heart-wrenching, inspirational—I’ve never read anything like this. Educated is one of the best books, and Westover one of the most gifted writers, that I’ve read in a very long time.”
    —Amy Chua


    April 2, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Kentucky original and long-time Iowa Citian Chris Offutt will return to Prairie Lights to read from Country Dark, his fierce noir-inflected novel about a good man pushed by circumstance into crime. “The talented Offutt here returns to rural Kentucky, the territory defining his fiction and memoirs . . . A rich, compelling story of hardscrabble Kentucky mountain life while showing deep empathy for his careworn characters.” —Publishers Weekly

    Chris Offutt is the author of the short-story collections Kentucky Straight and Out of the Woods, the novel The Good Brother, and three memoirs: The Same River Twice, No Heroes, and My Father, the Pornographer. His work has appeared in Best American Short Stories and Best American Essays, among many other places. He has written screenplays for Weeds, True Blood, and Treme, and has received fellowships from the Lannan and Guggenheim foundations. A graduate and former instructor for The Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Offutt currently teaches at the University of Mississippi.


    April 3, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event co-sponsored by The UI College of Public Health, author Lisa Palmer will read from Hot, Hungry Planet: The Fight to Stop a Global Food Crisis in the Face of Climate Change. "Palmer explains the dire consequences of a growing global middle class, ... [and] sees hope in new and diverse economic opportunities based on restoring and nurturing the environment."―Booklist

    Lisa Palmer is a journalist and research fellow who has documented the science, environment, and social challenges of a changing global environment for over 17 years. Palmer is presently a resident senior fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center in Annapolis, Maryland. Previously, she was a public policy scholar at The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and is one of the few journalists globally to achieve this prestigious distinction. She lives in Maryland.



    April 4, 2018 - 5:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    Mission Creek Event

    Nonfiction Workshop graduates Sarah Viren and Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas will read from their recent essay collections.

    Sarah Viren will read from MINE: Essays, recipient of the River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Prize. "With wonderfully precise and evocative prose, Sarah Viren takes us deeply into her search for her very self. . . . MINE is not only moving, it is instructive and nourishing in a way that only art can deliver. This book is a gem."—Andre Dubus III

    Sarah Viren is a writer, translator, and former newspaper reporter. A graduate of the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program, she teaches at Arizona State University. 

    Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas will read from Don’t Come Back. “Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas chronicles the immigrant’s ever-present tug of family and the familiar—what is left behind—and the equally strong pull of the new land with its lure of stability and security...Lina’s story asks readers to venture into the migrant heart’s dilemma—to go back or to stay in the new country.”  —Norma E. Cantú

    Lina María Ferreira Cabeza-Vanegas is also the author of Drown/Sever/Sing and winner of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award. A graduate of the University of Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program, she teaches at Arizona State University.


    April 5, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Mission Creek Event  

    The Mission Creek Festival presents Deb Olin Unferth and Andrea Lawlor, who will read from their fiction.

    Deb Olin Unferth is the author of five books, including Wait Till You See Me Dance : Stories and the graphic novel I, Parrot. She has received four Pushcart Prizes, and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. An associate professor at the University of Texas in Austin, she also runs the Pen-City Writers, a creative writing program at a penitentiary in southern Texas. She lives in Austin.

    Andrea Lawlor is the author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl, published by Rescue Press, and the chapbook, Position Papers, from Factory Hollow Press. They have been awarded fellowships by Lambda Literary and Radar Labs, and their writing has appeared in Ploughshares, Mutha, The Millions, jubilat, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere.  They live in Western Massachusetts with their family.