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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    May 25, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate, Kevin Boyle, will read from his new collection of poems, Astir.  “Rich in detail and attentive in focus, Kevin Boyle’s poems rock back and forth between tenderness and irony. In language both fluent and metrical, they explore what it’s like to be alive and awake in today’s shifting cultural environment. Leavened with a fine wit and possessed of a restrained compassion for the male self coming to terms with the layers of his life, these are the sturdy poems of a grown man.”  — Dorianne Laux

    Kevin Boyle, a Philadelphia native, teaches at Elon University in North Carolina, where he lives with his family.  His first book, A Home for Wayward Girls, was selected by Rodney Jones as the winner of The New Issues Poetry Prize.


    June 9, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Cheri Register will read from her new book The Big Marsh: The Story of a Lost Landscape. Before 1900, Freeborn County Minnesota’s Big Marsh provided a wealth of resources for the neighboring communities. Families hunted its immense flocks of migrating waterfowl, fished its waters, trapped muskrats and mink, and harvested wood and medicinal plants. As farmland prices rose, however, the value of the land under the water became more attractive to people with capital. While residents fought bitterly, powerful outside investors overrode local opposition and found a way to drain 18,000 acres of wetland at public expense. Cheri Register stumbled upon her great-grandfather’s scathing critique of the draining and was intrigued. “The Big Marsh describes the glorious dreams, the grandiose schemes, the lies, the deception, the ignorance, the avarice, and the unheeded pleas of those who saw beauty where others saw a wasteland. Minnesota has lost more than 50 percent of its pre-settlement wetlands. In lyrical prose, Cheri Register tells us how this happened.” —Sue Leaf

    Cheri Register is the author of Packinghouse Daughter, which won a Minnesota Book Award and an American Book Award. She taught creative nonfiction writing at the Loft Literary Center for twenty years, and lives in Minnesota. 


    June 10, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Lambda Award-winning Cedar Rapids poet, Valerie Wetlaufer, will read from her much-anticipated second collection of poems, Call Me by My Other Name. This fierce, unforgettable book about bodies and desire is told in three voices— two historical figures, and a meta-poetic third voice that connects past to present. Wetlaufer's story weaves a brutal narrative of how we are taught to masquerade queer gender and yearning. Deeply affecting, the inventive language of these crucial, well-crafted poems transports at the same time as it transcends. Valerie Wetlaufer holds a BA in French and an MA in Teaching from Bennington College, an MFA in Poetry from the Florida State University, and a PhD in Literature & Creative Writing from the University of Utah, where she was a Vice Presidential Fellow. Her first book, Mysterious Acts by My People won the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry.


    June 11, 2016 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Garrard Conley will talk about his new book, Boy Erased: A Memoir, with Iowa City author Garth Greenwell. 

    The son of a Baptist pastor and deeply embedded in church life in small town Arkansas, as a young man Garrard Conley was terrified and conflicted about his sexuality. When Garrard was a nineteen-year-old college student, he was outed to his parents, and was forced to make a life-changing decision: either agree to attend a church-supported conversion therapy program that promised to cure him of homosexuality; or risk losing family, friends, and the God he had prayed to every day of his life . . . Instead, even when faced with a harrowing and brutal journey, Garrard found the strength and understanding to break out in search of his true self and forgiveness.

    Garrard Conley’s fiction and nonfiction can be found in The Common, The Madison Review, and The Virginia Quarterly Review. He has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and Elizabeth Kostova Foundation writers' conferences. Conley currently teaches English literature and promotes LGBTQ equality in Sofia, Bulgaria.

    Garth Greenwell is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the author of What Belongs to You, called the first great novel of 2016 by Publishers Weekly.


    June 14, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In this special event, two recent graduates of The University of Iowa’s Writers’ Workshop will read from their new books. 

    Anna Noyes will read from Goodnight, Beautiful Women. Charles Baxter calls this collection of stories set in coastal Maine “extraordinary, mysterious and beautifully written  — tales that will stay in your memory long after you finish the book.”  Anna Noyes’ fiction has appeared in Vice, A Public Space, and Guernica. She has received the Aspen Words Emerging Writer Fellowship, and has served as writer-in-residence at the Polli Talu Arts Center in Estonia. Goodnight, Beautiful Women received the Henfield Prize for Fiction.

    Brian Booker will read from his short story collection, Are You Here for What I’m Here For?  The suspense creeps in and takes hold in these seven stories about troubled characters grappling with rare illnesses, menacing chance encounters, sexual awakening, impending natural disasters, and New Age cults. Even at its most surreal, this polished and lyrical debut remains grounded in the emotional lives of people teetering atop widening chasms of confusion and doubt.

    Brian Booker’s stories have been published in the New England Review, Conjunctions, One Story, Tin House, and VICE. In addition to an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he holds a PhD in English from New York University, and has been a fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. He currently teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago. 


    June 20, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Juliet Patterson will read from Epilogue, her intimate narration of her experience of her father's death by suicide and her subsequent inquiry into his actions. Like the best work done at soul level, Patterson's awareness that the focus of her quest is unattainable only makes it more necessary and more transformative. As she investigates her grief for meaning, Patterson’s insights surface as moments of intense compassion available to us all.

    Juliet Patterson is the author of the poetry collections, The Truant Lover and Threnody, which is forthcoming from Nightboat Books, and Dirge, a chapbook recently published by Albion Books. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines including American Letters & Commentary, Crazyhorse, Indiana Review, Knockout, and Verse. 


    June 21, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Judy Polumbaum will present a slide talk of her new book, Juxtapositions: Images from the Newseum Ted Polumbaum Photo Collection.

    Using the motif of paired pictures, this volume of selections from the vast Ted Polumbaum collection in the Newseum in Washington, D.C. draws attention to human connections across time, culture, and geography that all generations can appreciate. As a photojournalist, Ted Polumbaum documented some of the most important news events and social movements of the second half of the twentieth century. On assignment for the era's great picture magazines as well as through independent projects, he photographed athletes, artists, parades, protests, and more. Above all, traveling throughout the Americas and around the world, he chronicled the lives and aspirations of ordinary people. Along with cameos of political and cultural icons, the book offers a clear and generous vision of the human condition in all its commonality and variety.

    Judy Polumbaum is a professor of journalism and mass communication. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa. Ted Polumbaum was a freelance journalist whose photographs appeared in publications such as Life, Look, The New York Times Magazine, The Saturday Evening Post, and Time. 


    June 24, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City landscaping design professional Judy Nauseef will talk about and show slides from her new book from University of Iowa Press, Gardening with Native Plants in the Upper Midwest.  “This is a superlative book addressing one of the most important garden design trends of this century. Judy Nauseef demonstrates a great depth of knowledge about sustainability, landscape design, deer resistant plants, wildflower meadows, and irrigation and plant management techniques. The book is clear, easy to follow and understand. Readers will reap a great deal of information about plants, drainage, midwestern prairie gardens, and biodiversity. Her guidelines are easy to follow for homeowners and landscape professionals.”—Joel M. Lerner, FAPLD, president, Environmental Design

    Judy Nauseef has been a professional landscape designer for more than twenty-five years. A certified fellow and past president of the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and an Iowa Nursery and Landscape Association certified nursery professional, she has won awards from the Association of Professional Landscape Designers and the Perennial Plant Association. The owner of Judy Nauseef Landscape Design, she lives on an acreage in Johnson County, Iowa.


    June 30, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event sponsored by Between the Lines, a part of The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program, American, Arabic and Russian poets, Dora Malech, Karim Alrawi and Alisa Ganieva will read from their work.

    Dora Malech is a poet, professor, and visual artist. She is the author of two books of poetry, Say So and Shore Ordered Ocean. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Yale Review, and Tin House. She has been the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation Center, and she has served as Distinguished Poet-in-Residence at Saint Mary's College of California. She is a co-founder and former director of the arts outreach organization the Iowa Youth Writing Project. She lives in Baltimore, where she is on the faculty of The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and is serving as an inaugural Engaged Faculty Fellow through the JHU Center for Social Concern in 2015-2016.

    Karim Alrawi is an Egyptian novelist and playwright with an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. In addition to many plays for stage, radio, and television, he is the author of two children’s books and, more recently, of the novel Book of Sand, which won the HarperCollins/UBC Best New Fiction Prize. His international honors include the John Whiting Award for his stage plays, the Samuel Beckett Award for the Performing Arts and several Canada Council for the Arts awards. A former editor of the magazine Arabica, he has taught creative writing at the University of Victoria, the University of British Columbia, and the American University in Cairo.

    Alisa Ganieva is a fiction writer and essayist from Dagestan (southern Russia) now based in Moscow. A graduate of the Maxim Gorky Institute of Literature and Creative Writing, she published Salam Dalgat!, her controversial first book, under a male pseudonym, winning the 2009 national Debut Prize. Her next novel was published in the US in 2015 as The Mountain and The Wall. Her most recent novel, The Bride and the Bridegroom, shortlisted for the 2015 Russian Booker, will appear in US in 2016. In 2015 The Guardian listed her among the “30 most talented young people living in Moscow.”