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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    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.  


    November 6, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Writers’ Workshop graduates Lauren Haldeman and Bridgette Bates will read from their new books of poetry published by Rescue Press.

    Lauren Haldeman will work from her inventive debut, Calenday. These poems travel the sleep-deprived, hallucinogenic landscape of parenting a newborn—from the otherworldly process of giving birth to the strangeness of extra-physical connection, they build worlds in miniature and madcap and address the tiers of grief that accompany tragic and bewildering loss.

    Haldeman works as the web developer, web designer, and editor for the Writing University website at the University of Iowa and the Iowa Review, as well as several other websites. Haldeman has been a finalist for the Walt Whitman award and the Colorado Prize for Poetry. She lives in Iowa City.

    Bridgette Bates will read from What Is Not Missing Is Light, winner of the Rescue Press Black Box Poetry Prize selected by Heather Christle. In What Is Not Missing Is Light, shards of history are sharpened against the imagined experience of various—crumbling, complex, disfigured, celebrated, striking—muses; some statues, some legend, some surfacing from memory.

    Bates' poems have appeared in the Boston Review, Fence, jubilat, VERSE, and elsewhere. Recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship and a Boston Review Discovery Prize, she lives in Los Angeles where she is the writer-in-residence at the Library Foundation of Los Angeles and a frequent features contributor to the Kirkus Reviews. 


    November 7, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Local author Joseph Dobrian will read from his new novel, Ambitions.

    Ambitions  is family drama, set in the fictional town of State City, Iowa. State City is Iowa City with a twist: Instead of having been designated by UNESCO as a “City of Literature,” State City is a “City of Music,” and State University’s School of Music is world-renowned. 

    Ambitions tells the story of Christine Wainwright—a teenaged girl who blossoms into a potentially world-class singer—and her troubled relationship with her family. When Christine disappears, suspicion falls on the Wainwrights' scheming neighbor, and the unfolding mystery reveals the true story behind the family’s respectable façade: a convoluted saga of unwanted children, disastrous marriages, romantic double-crosses, and domestic plots and counter-plots. 

    Dobrian is the author of the novel Willie Wilden and the essay collection Seldom Right But Never In Doubt. He grew up in Iowa City and moved back in 2010 after spending most of his adult life in New York City where he worked as a freelance journalist and political activist.  


    November 9, 2014 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Kristin Russo and Dannielle Owens-Reid will read from and talk about This is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids, a question and answer style book that is the go-to resource for parents hoping to understand and communicate with their gay child. The authors dialogue daily with LGBTQ youth and families through their award-winning website, Everyone is Gay.

    Russo and Owens-Reid are the winners of the Best LGBT Bloggie Award and have been named as Velvet Park’s Top 25 Significant Queer Women of 2014.

    “Interweaving comedy and advocacy, Dannielle and Kristin delight and empower LGBTQ youth.” —Feministing

    Russo and Owens-Reid will be joined by Y/A author Vivek Shraya, who will talk about his book, God Loves Hair.  God Loves Hair is about a tender, intellectual, and curious child of Indian origin who navigates the complex realms of sexuality, gender, racial politics, religion, and belonging. Told with the poignant insight and honesty that only the voice of a young mind can convey, God Loves Hair is a moving and ultimately joyous portrait of youth that celebrates diversity in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Vivek Shraya is a multimedia artist, working in the mediums of music, performance, literature, and film.


    November 10, 2014 - 8:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    John D’Agata will present a reading from the new anthology We Might As Well Call It the Lyric Essay by some of its editors; Gemma de Choisy, Larry Ypil, Helen Rubinstein, and Josh Wheeler.

    We Might As Well Call It the Lyric Essay, new from Hobart and William Smith Colleges, is an anthology in two sections: one is a straight-up anthology featuring essays selected from Seneca Review by Nonfiction Writing Program students, including work by Anne Carson, Eliot Weinberger, Mary Ruefle, Paul West, and Wayne Koestenbaum; and the second is made up of critical essays and interviews.


    November 11, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Pushcart prize-winning poet and translator Gillian Conoley will read from her new book of poetry, Peace, from Omnidawn Press, and recent translation of Henri Michaux’s work, Thousand Times Broken, from City Lights Books.

    Written as though at the threshold of a continual co-presence and comingling of peace and war, Peace moves just beyond outrage and anger to bring the reader to revelations and shifts of consciousness, to possible visions and sightings in the shattered yards of the global dream.

    "As a whole, Gillian Conoley’s Peace is a compassionate and coherent plea for contemporary humanity to accept the principles of love and non-violence which guided Gandhi and Martin Luther King . . . Reading these poems is a life-altering experience." —Sonja James

    Thousand Times Broken, a work that brings together three previously untranslated books composed during the Belgian-born writer Henri Michaux’s mescaline experiments, engages a dynamic struggle between the mark and the word as Michaux searches for a medium up to the task of expressing the inexpressible.  

    Conoley is the author of seven poetry collections. Her work has received the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize, a NEA grant, and a Fund for Poetry Award. Conoley has taught as a visiting writer at University of Denver, the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Tulane University, and Vermont College. Editor and founder of Volt magazine, she is Professor and Poet-in-Residence at Sonoma State University.


    November 12, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Jeffrey Copeland, author of the popular Inman’s War and Shell Games, returns to Prairie Lights with his latest work of historical nonfiction, Ain’t No Harm to Kill the Devil: The Life and Legacy of John Fairfield, Abolitionist for Hire. Ain’t No Harm to Kill the Devil is an account of the history and legend of abolitionist John Fairfield, one of the most successful conductors of the Underground Railroad before the American Civil War. A master of disguise and subterfuge, Fairfield sometimes resorted to extortion and violence to deliver slaves to freedom in Canada.

    Copeland is Professor and Head of the Department of Languages and Literatures at the University of Northern Iowa, where he teaches children's and young adult literature courses and English Education. He lives in Cedar Falls.


    November 13, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, Hilton Als will talk about his recent 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. In pieces that hairpin between critique and meditation, fiction and nonfiction, high culture and low, the theoretical and the deeply personal, Als presents a stunning portrait of a writer by way of his subjects, and an invaluable guide to the culture of our time.  

    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.