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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    September 28, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop Faculty Member, Margot Livesey, will read from her new novel, Mercury. This taut emotional thriller is the story of a married couple devoted to each other and their children until their lives are changed by a gorgeous young thoroughbred with a murky past.

    “Mercury demonstrates Tolstoy’s dictum: all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way. The Stevensons find themselves upended by a horse — a magnificent horse that sets off a chain of deceit and crime. This powerful novel reveals the fragility of life when tested by the shock of genuine passion.”—Ben Fountain

    Margot Livesey is the NYT  bestselling author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy, The House on Fortune Street, Banishing Verona, Eva Moves the Furniture, The Missing World, Criminals, and Homework. She is the recipient of grants from both the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. Born in Scotland, Livesey currently lives in the Boston area and Iowa City, where she teaches fiction writing at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.


    September 29, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Zachary Vickers will read from his collection of linked stories, Congratulations on Your Martyrdom!

    Congratulations on Your Martyrdom! is one of the most addictive collections of short fiction I've read in years. Whimsical, wild and gleefully absurd to the point of wickedness, Vickers's stories revel in the collapse of American culture. Once these stories grab, they do not let go." ―Jessica Anthony

    Zachary Tyler Vickers was a Provost’s Fellow while at Iowa, and  is recipient of the Richard Yates Prize and the Clark Fisher Ansley Prize. His stories have appeared in The American Reader, KGB Bar Lit Journal, Hobart, Waccamaw, and elsewhere.


    October 4, 2016 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Poets Susan Aizenberg and Lindsay Tigue will read from their new books of poetry.

    Aizenberg will read from Quiet City, her third collection. “The noir-ish glamour of America’s mid-twentieth century regains its brutal edge in Susan Aizenberg’s Quiet City, and reminds us how the wounds of history keep on wounding . . .” —Kathy Fagan

    Aizenberg is the winner of Virginia Commonwealth University's Levis Prize and the Nebraska Book Award for Poetry. She is the co-editor of The Extraordinary Tide: New Poetry by American Women. She taught for many years in the writing programs at Creighton University in Omaha, and now lives in Iowa City.

    Lindsay Tigue is the author of System of Ghosts, which was the winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize from the University of Iowa Press. “Lindsay Tigue has, first and foremost, a curious mind: her poems are motored by information . . .  As in the poetry of Robyn Schiff and the prose of Eula Biss, esoteric facts, knit together carefully and with a gentle sense of mischievous humor, come to generalize about human suffering and hope.”—Craig Morgan Teicher

    Tigue's work appears in Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Rattle, diode, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. She is a graduate of the MFA program in Creative Writing and Environment at Iowa State University and is a current PhD student in Creative Writing at the University of Georgia.


    October 7, 2016 - 5:00pm

    Prairie Lights


    Freeman's: Family is the second literary journal anthology in the series reviewers are calling “bold” (Minneapolis Star-Tribune) and “refreshing” (Chicago Literati). Following a debut issue on the theme of “Arrival,” Freeman circles a new topic whose definition is constantly challenged by the best of our writers: family. Freeman will be joined by Aleksandar Hemon, who will read from and discuss his contribution to the journal.

    John Freeman was the editor of Granta until 2013. His books include How to Read a Novelist and Tales of Two Cities: the Best and Worst of Times in Today's New York. He is executive editor at the Literary Hub and teaches at the New School and New York University. Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Lazarus Project, Question of Bruno, Nowhere Man, Love and Obstacles, and The Making of Zombie Wars. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation.


    October 7, 2016 - 7:00pm

    The Englert Theatre



    October 8, 2016 - 10:00am

    Prairie Lights

    Robert Oldshue will read from his Iowa Short Fiction Award-Winning short story collection, November Storm. “Robert Oldshue writes stories that are as rich and self-complicating as novels. Set mostly in Boston, November Storm explores that city like Stuart Dybek’s Chicago or Edward P. Jones’s DC through the layers of its characters’ memories. Here a twenty-page story seems deeper and more densely sedimented with consciousness and retrospection than most two-hundred-page books.”— Bennett Sims

    Robert Oldshue practices family medicine at a community health center in Boston. He holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and his work has appeared in the Bellevue Literary Review, the Gettysburg Review, and New England Review.

    Allegra Hyde will read from Of This New World.  “Of This New World is the right title for a collection that’s so witheringly deadpan and compassionate about who we are now. From Adam and Eve to an uprooted flower child to a maimed veteran to a Mexican domestic . . . these protagonists are runaways and spirit-seekers who know the power of mystery and license and desire.”— Jim Shepard

    Allegra Hyde received her B.A. from Williams College and her M.F.A. from Arizona State University. Her stories and essays have been published in New England Review, Gettysburg Review, and  The Missouri Review. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, as well as a notable mention in Best American Essays 2015.



    October 8, 2016 - 11:30am

    Prairie Lights

    Poets Jennifer Knox and Ryan Collins will read from their work.

    Jennifer Knox will read from Days of Shame & Failure. Her previous books are A Gringo Like Me, Drunk by Noon, and The Mystery of the Hidden Driveway. Knox received her BA from the University of Iowa, and her MFA in poetry writing from New York University. She teaches at Iowa State University.

    "Jennifer L. Knox is one of our funniest writers . . .  Days of Shame and Failure is the work of a genius at her peak, the best book yet from one of our most brilliant and sui generis American writers." —Sarah Manguso

    Ryan Collins will read from New American Field Guide & Songbook. Collins is the author of several chapbooks, most recently Where the Wind Bends Backwards. His poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, PEN Poetry Series, DIAGRAM, and  Another Chicago Magazine. He curates the SPECTRA Poetry Reading Series in Rock Island, where he lives. “Ryan Collins’ A New American Field Guide & Song Book is a book of prophecy, and it arrives at a moment when America finds itself in great need of prophesying.” —Shane McCrae


    October 8, 2016 - 1:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Alexander Maksik will read from his “scorching third novel" (Publisher’s Weekly), Shelter in Place. "An unsettling and beautiful exploration of mental illness, love, violence, and sexual politics. Maksik’s artful story outruns all sorts of received ideas and slips into deeply original territory. You’ll be haunted by it in the best possible way."—Katie Roiphe

    Alexander Maksik is the author of the novels You Deserve Nothing and A Marker to Measure Drift, which was a New York Times Book Review Notable Book. He is the recipient of a 2015 Pushcart Prize, as well as fellowships from the Capote Literary Trust and Yaddo. He is the co-artistic director of the Can Cab Literary Residence in Catalonia, Spain.

    Nathan Hill will read from his New York Times bestselling novel, The Nix, which has been named one of fall’s best books by Entertainment Weekly, Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, and New York Magazine. "The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it’s also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America. Even the minor characters go to extremes—among them, a Home Ec teacher from Hell and an unrepentant plagiarist with presidential aspirations. For this mother and son, disappointment is ‘the price of hope’—a cost they will both bear. Nathan Hill is a maestro of being terrific.” —John Irving

    Nathan Hill’s short fiction has appeared in The Iowa Review, AGNI, The Gettysburg Review, and Fiction, where he was awarded the annual Fiction Prize. A native Iowan, he received a BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. He lives in Naples, Florida.



    October 8, 2016 - 2:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    Novelist and award-winning journalist Okey Ndibe will read from his memoir, Never Look an American in the Eye. Ndibe’s memoir tells of his move from Nigeria to America, where he came to edit the influential African Commentary magazine, published by Chinua Achebe.

    Okey Ndibe has taught at Brown University, Connecticut College, Simon’s Rock College, Trinity College, and the University of Lagos (as a Fulbright scholar). He is the author of two novels, Arrows of Rain and Foreign Gods, Inc. His award-winning journalism has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, and The Hartford Courant. “Never Look an American in the Eye is story of sweeping cultural insight and absurd comedy.” —The Washington Post



    October 8, 2016 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Tom Lutz will read from And the Monkey Learned Nothing, his reports from fifty countries, describing personal encounters in rarely visited spots and anecdotes from way off the beaten path, on his way to visit every country on earth. “I am astounded at Tom’s ethnographic fragments, his deep knowledge of the regions and peoples, his relentless openness . . . the ways in which he finds meaning in nods, keywords, and gesture,and cultural performance. I love this book—it leaves me devoured by a vast borderless humanity.”—Juan Felipe Herrera

    Tom Lutz is the founder and editor in chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books. He was a professor of English at the University of Iowa for many years. He is the author of Doing Nothing, Cosmopolitan Vistas, Crying: The Natural and Cultural History of Tears, and American Nervousness, 1903. He teaches at the University of California, Riverside, and lives in Los Angeles, California.

    Marc Nieson will read from Schoolhouse, a memoir about the place where identity and heart intersect. In this modern-day Walden, Nieson retreats to a one-room school house in the rural Iowa woodlands to contemplate the end of a love-affair. “Marc Nieson’s Schoolhouse is a record of wisdom and tenderness, and also a record of spiritual and emotional growth. Intelligent, wary, and observant, the narrator of this chronicle gradually lets us see into his heart and soul.”—Charle Baxter. Marc Nieson is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and NYU Film School. His prose has earned two Pushcart Prize nominations, and a Raymond Carver Short Story Award. Nieson currently serves on the MFA faculty of Chatham University, where he is fiction editor of The Fourth River.