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.
rss RSS


    February 26, 2017 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Mindy Mejia will read from her razor-sharp literary thriller, Everything You Want Me to Be. Full of twists and turns, Everything You Want Me to Be reconstructs a year in the life of Hattie Hoffman: good student, good daughter, good citizen, girl who is brutally stabbed to death on the opening night of her high school play. Shelf Awareness says, "Readers will surely find this unsettling, character-driven descent into secret desires and hidden faces everything they wanted to see from a talented writer and then some."

    Mindy Mejia received her MFA from Hamline University. The granddaughter of Minnesota farmers, she is the author of the y/a book The Dragon Keeper, and lives in the Twin Cities.

    "Ms. Mejia displays the enviable ability and assurance of such contemporaries as Megan Abbott and Laura Lippman in convincingly charting inter-generational passion and angst." —The Wall Street Journal


    February 27, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Author/Musician John Darnielle will read from his new book, Universal Harvester.  Set in the 1990’s in a small town Iowa, this  masterful and unsettling novel tells the story of a video store clerk who finds strange and disturbing clips recorded over the store's VHS tapes.

    John Darnielle’s first novel, Wolf in White Van, was a New York Times bestseller, National Book Award nominee, and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction, and widely hailed as one of the best novels of the year. He is the writer, composer, guitarist, and vocalist for the band the Mountain Goats. He lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and sons.


    February 28, 2017 - 7:00pm

    U of I associate professors Lena and Michael Hill will talk about their book, Invisible Hawkeyes: African Americans at the University of Iowa During the Long Civil Rights Era.  Between the 1930s and 1960s, the University of Iowa sought to assert its modernity, cosmopolitanism, and progressivism through an increased emphasis on the fine and performing arts and athletics. Invisible Hawkeyes tells the stories of some of the African American students who enrolled at UI during the years before the passage of the Civil Rights Act. As those students earned degrees in the arts, performed in athletic competitions and participated in campus life, they contributed to civil rights struggles. Their musical, literary, and athletic accomplishments simultaneously ennobled black cultural experiences and confirmed the power of interracial partnership. By examining the quiet collisions between Iowa’s polite midwestern progressivism and African American students’ determined ambition, Invisible Hawkeyes reveals how fraught moments of interracial collaboration, meritocratic advancement, and institutional insensitivity deepen our understanding of America’s painful conversion into a diverse republic committed to racial equality.

    “This vital and important work, recovering the lives of early black students at the university, makes even larger claims about the prominence of the Midwest in national conversations about race and African American art and artistic styles.”—Lawrence Jackson

    Lena and Michael Hill are associate professors in the Department of English and the African American Studies Program, both part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. They are both coauthors of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: A Reference Guide.


    March 3, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City native Zachary Jack will read from Wish You Were Here, his collection of essays whose settings encompass the diversity of the Heartland—from wooded hills to verdant croplands, from tightly knit small towns to booming suburbs. “Through his brilliant essays and books in recent years, Jack has become an essential voice of the heartland in the national cacophony, one of our best hopes for maintaining a genuine democratic pluralism.” —Jon Lauck

    Zachary Michael Jack is the author or editor of more than twenty books, including Iowa the Definitive CollectionWhat Cheer, and Corn Poll.  He teaches courses in rural studies, writing, and the environment as an associate professor of English and member of the Urban and Suburban Studies and Environmental Studies faculties at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois.


    March 4, 2017 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Local Children’s book author Jacqueline Briggs Martin and Iowa City illustrator Claudia McGehee will read from Creekfinding: A True Story. Set in the Iowa Driftless region of high bluffs and deep valleys, Creekfinding tells the story of a man who works to uncover and reclaim a "lost" creek that had been filled in and buried under his farm. By looking at old pictures, he locates where the creek ran, and begins to uncover its buried creek bed. With bulldozers and excavators carving the curves and runs, the creek slowly comes to life—with dragonflies, leopard frogs, bluebirds, and herons—and eventually, bright orange brook trout. Creekfinding reminds us all that we can work to make a difference and restore parts of the world that have been lost or degraded,  and we can effect positive change in our environment.

    Jacqueline Briggs Martin has written more than fifteen picture books including the Caldecott Award–winning Snowflake Bentley, Chicken Joy on Redbean Road and Farmer Will Allen and the Growing Table. Claudia McGehee is the illustrator and author of A Tallgrass Prairie Alphabet, A Woodland Counting Book, and My Wilderness. Most recently, she illustrated North Woods Girl.


    March 5, 2017 - 2:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Edward McClelland will talk about How to Speak Midwestern, his witty and informative guide to the speech patterns of the people in the flyover states. This book explains not only what Midwesterners say but also how and why they say it and covers such topics as: the causes of the Northern cities vowel shift, why the accents in Fargo miss the nasality that's a hallmark of Minnesota speech, and why Chicagoans talk more like people from Buffalo than their next-door neighbors in Wisconsin. 

    "Learning to speak Midwestern: Can there be any more urgent national task? . . . Unto the breach steps Edward McClelland’s How to Speak Midwestern, a dictionary wrapped in some serious dialectology inside a gift book trailing a serious whiff of Relevance. " —The New York Times

    Edward McClelland is a journalist whose writing has appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review, Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Salon. He is the author of Nothin' But Blue Skies and Young Mr. Obama. He lives in Chicago.