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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    April 20, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Casey Walker will read from his debut novel, Last Days in Shanghai. Walker’s writing has appeared in The Believer, Boston Review, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, novelist Karen Thompson Walker.

    Last Days in Shanghai is both a comedy and a horror story about mistaken identity and moral inertia; it's also a  dreamlike tour through the back alleys of Shanghai, a fever-bright landscape that corresponds to the mental labyrinth of fear and desire. The story is fabulous; the language will knock you flat." —Karen Russell



    April 21, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduates Marc Rahe and Daniel Khalastchi will read from their work.

    Marc Rahe will read from his second collection, On Hours, from Rescue Press. In this stunning book, Rahe reveals himself as an occasionally grave and often humorous master of observation whose poems note the natural in the mechanical and the wild in the wonder. Rahe is the author of the poetry collection The Smaller Half, and his poems have appeared in Gutcult, iO: A Journal of New American Poetry, jubilat, Petri Press, Sixth Finch, and other literary journals. He lives in Iowa City and works for a human service agency.

    Daniel Khalastchi will read from his second collection, Tradition, published by McSweeney’s. These wildly imaginative poems bring to life a speaker struggling to find balance between familial pressure and personal identity, religious faith and recognition of the world’s calamities. Khalastchi is the author of Manoleria, winner of the Tupelo Press First Book Prize, and his poems have appeared in journals including Colorado Review; Denver Quarterly; Forklift, iO: A Journal of New American Poetry; jubilat; Kenyon Review; and MAKE Magazine. He lives in Iowa City where he is the Associate Director of the University of Iowa’s Frank N. Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing and a co-editor of Rescue Press. 


    April 23, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Winter in the Blood by James Welch

    Paul’s Book Club will feature Blackfeet Writer James Welch’s first novel, Winter in the Blood. In her introduction to the 2007 reprint of Winter in the Blood, fellow writer Louise Erdrich said: "It is a central and inspiring text to a generation of western regional and Native American writers, including me." It’s a tale of a culture eaten alive and spit out by advancing Europeans. It takes place on an Indian reservation in Montana and features a character trying to find connection between himself and the culture he has lost.

    "A nearly flawless novel about human life . . . Few books in any year speak so unanswerably, make their own local terms so thoroughly ours." —Reynolds Price, The New York Times Book Review


    April 24, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for this special event co-sponsored by Poets on the Book and the Iowa Youth Writing Project, as poets Ted Mathys and Matt Hart read from their recent books of poetry.

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Ted Mathys will read from his new book from Coffee House Press, Null Set.  Mathys is the author of The Spoils and Forge, and his work has appeared in American Poetry Review, BOMB, Boston Review,and Conjunctions. The recipient of fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Poetry Society of America, he lives in Saint Louis and teaches at Saint Louis University.

    “Somber, surprising, pitch-perfect, and carefully intelligent, the poems of Null Set infuse me with renewed faith in poetry’s powers.”—Maggie Nelson

    Pushcart Prizewinner Matt Hart will read from Debacle, Debacle from H_NGM_N BKS. Hart is the author of Who’s Who Vivid, Wolf Face, Light-Headed, and Sermons and Lectures Both Blank and Relentless, as well as several chapbooks. His poems, reviews, and essays have appeared in Cincinnati Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Harvard Review, jubilat, Lungfull!, and Post Road. A co-founder and the editor-in-chief of Forklift, Ohio, he lives in Cincinnati where he teaches at the Art Academy of Cincinnati and plays in the band TRAVEL.

    “Matt Hart’s Debacle, Debacle has a burning domesticity, an anxiousness . . . It really really LOVES the world, and hates it too. It should. Debacle, Debacle is a book of quiet political and personal decision.” —Adam Fell


    April 25, 2015 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City native Jim Furnish will read from his book Toward a Natural Forest: The Forest Service in Transition (a Memoir). The Forest Service stumbled in responding to a wave of lawsuits from environmental groups in the late 20th Century—a phenomenon best symbolized by the spotted owl controversy that shut down logging on public forests in the Pacific Northwest in the 1990s. The agency was brought to its knees, pitted between a powerful timber industry that had been having its way with the national forests for decades, and organized environmentalists who believed public lands had been abused and deserved better stewardship. Toward a Natural Forest offers an insider's view of this tumultuous time in the history of the Forest Service, presenting twin tales of transformation, both within the agency and within the author's evolving environmental consciousness.

    Jim Furnish is a consulting forester in the Washington, D.C. area following a 34-year career with the USDA Forest Service. He served as the agency's Deputy Chief and Siuslaw National Forest Supervisor in Corvallis, Oregon. Furnish was a principle Forest Service leader in creating the Roadless Area Conservation Rule (2001), as well as in reforming management of the Siuslaw National Forest from timber production to restoration principles. He has served on the board of directors of several environmental and faith-based non-profit organizations. 


    April 26, 2015 - 2:00pm

    Hillel House, 122 E. Market St, Iowa City, IA 52245

    Hillel House will host American poet Dina Elenbogen to read from her new memoir, Drawn From Water. In Drawn from Water, Elenbogen explores her thirty-year friendship with Ethiopian Jewish immigrants in Israel as they struggle in a new country while dealing with her own desire to join them there. Thirty years ago, Operation Moses airlifted thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel, where today they, immigrants from other years, and descendants form a community over 100,000 strong. Through the stories of the children Osnat, Elad, and their siblings, Elenbogen raises questions about religion, assimilation, and cultural identity. The author's poetic voice examines immigration in all its forms, success and failure, adaptation and resistance. Black Ethiopians suffer discrimination, and are hindered by cultural and language difficulties, yet the children eventually attend college, marry, and have families of their own. Dina's personal journey parallels theirs, but poetry and the arts give her a bridge between her life in America and her desire for Israel.

    Elenbogen is the author of the poetry collection Apples of the Earth, and is a graduate of the Writers’ Workshop and teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago's Graham School. She lives in Evanston, Illinois.



    April 27, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Angela Flournoy will read from her timely new novel, The Turner House. Already praised by Ayana Mathis as "utterly moving," The Turner House brings us a colorful, complicated brood full of love and pride, sacrifice and unlikely inheritances. It's a striking examination of the price we pay for our dreams and futures, and the ways in which our families bring us home.

    “The real and the supernatural, the hardships and hard won triumphs of the tightly knit, at times warring Turner clan will pull you close to this family’s generous, dignified heart. While each of the thirteen siblings (and their parents) could carry a book on his or her own, here they remain indelibly linked by the complicated bonds of history and belonging—and by the promises of their heartbreak city, Detroit."—Cristina Garcia

    Angela Flournoy has taught writing at universities and currently works for the Washington, D.C. Public Library. She was raised by a mother from Los Angeles and a father from Detroit.


    April 29, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Alex Lemon will read from his poetry collection from Milkweed Editions, The Wish Book. Lemon is the author of three previous books of poetry and the memoir Happy. His writing has appeared in Esquire, Best American Poetry 2008, Satellite Convulsions, Tin House, The Bloomsbury Review, The Southern Review, AGNI and jubilat. Among his awards are a 2005 Literature Fellowship in Poetry from the NEA and a 2006 Minnesota Arts Board Grant. He is co-editor of LUNA: A Journal of Poetry and Translation and is a frequent book reviewer. He teaches at Texas Christian University and lives digitally at

    “Lemon shines in his new collection, composed of tightly coiled, fast-paced lines and persistently unexpected images, such as jellyfish stuffed to bursting with diamonds, or flames shooting from kitchen faucets. In freewheeling sequences of seeming non sequiturs, Lemon blends the energy of a carnival barker with the precise prosody of a master craftsman, creating a literary Tilt-a-Whirl of touch-and-go emotion. Also the author of Happy, a memoir that chronicles his diagnosis with brain hemorrhaging and subsequent, life-saving surgery, Lemon has been likened to Lucia Perillo, Ariana Reines, and Laura Kasischke”. — Diego Báez, for Booklist


    April 30, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Joanna Klink will read from her new book of poetry, Excerpts from a Secret Prophecy. The poems in Klink’s new collection offer a closely keyed meditation on being alone—on a self fighting its way out of isolation, toward connection with other people and a vanishing world. Joanna Klink is the author of They Are Sleeping, Circadian, and Raptus. Her poems have appeared in many anthologies, most recently The Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century Poetry. A recent recipient of an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters,she teaches in the Creative Writing Program at The University of Montana.

    “In a culture inclined to mistake opacity for depth and stridency for passionate feeling, Joanna Klink has made a body of work at once utterly lucid and breathtakingly urgent. She navigates between those most suspicious extremes, despair and ecstasy, without ever seeming to be a poet dependent on extremes. The extraordinary beauty of her poems, from the beginning, has resulted from a constantly refined attention to the ordinary and the daily.”—Louise Glück


    May 1, 2015 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program graduate Amy Butcher will read from her new memoir, Visiting Hours. Visiting Hours is about Butcher’s continued friendship with a college classmate who killed his girlfriend in what was later deemed a psychotic break.

    ''There are horrors in Visiting Hours some of them emotional, some incomprehensibly not. But what rises above it all in this exhilaratingly honest and brutal debut is what might be the book's most disturbingly beautiful element: its tribute to memory, its testament of love, and its wide-eyed inquiry into just how long those two things really last.''  —John D'Agata

    Butcher is the recipient of the 2014 Iowa Review Award for literary nonfiction, and her work has appeared in the Rumpus, Kenyon Review, and North American Review.  She is the editor of Defunct and teaches at Ohio Wesleyan University.