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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    April 28, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Tim Lawrence will read from his Disco Chronicle, Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983

    "Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor is a remarkably intense piece of 'community history writing.' It breathes life into an iconic historical epoch and sociocultural scene without ever retreating into nostalgia or naive celebration. In fact, there's something unexpectedly electrifying about reading Lawrence's exceptionally well-researched historical studies. It is the sensation of remotely yet meaningfully becoming part of something hitherto only secretly known. One becomes slowly yet unequivocally aware of how that specific era's cultural and sociopolitical conditions, so thoroughly reconstructed in these works, resonate with the current sense of cultural and political impasse." —Niels Van Tomme, The Wire

    Tim Lawrence is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London and the author of Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979 and Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–1992.


    April 29, 2017 - 9:00am

    Prairie Lights

    APRIL 29TH!

    Independent Bookstore Day is a celebration of books, readers, and indie bookselling. We’ll have limited edition Independent Bookstore Day collectible merchandise, and all the amenities you normally cherish for a day of browsing serenity, with a splash of festivity.     

    “Consumers control the marketplace by deciding where to spend their money. If what a bookstore offers matters to you, then shop at a bookstore. If you feel that the experience of reading a book is valuable, then read the book. This is how we change the world: we grab hold of it. We change ourselves.”―Ann Patchett



    April 29, 2017 - 6:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for a reading in Spanish by graduating students in the Spanish Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Iowa. Inma Aljaro, Pablo Ottonello, Violeta Gil Casado, Helena García Mariño, Carlo Acevedo Malo, and Paul Schneeberger will read. The reading will be followed by a reception in the café until 7:30 pm.


    April 30, 2017 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduates Jane Wong and Nick Gulig will read from their new collections of poems. Jane Wong will read from Overpour. This powerful book weaves together seemingly disparate topics such as war and child's play, language and exile, debt, animals and nature.  “Not afraid of being earnest, Wong's voice is both playful and cerebral, weaving in and out of the world—its wars and its violence, poverty and alienation—making a beautiful and smart, strange and new, word elixir."—Cynthia Cruz

    Jane Wong is a former U.S. Fulbright Fellow and Kundiman Fellow. Her poems have appeared in  Pleiades, The Volta, Third Coast, and Best American Poetry. Her chapbooks include: Dendrochronology, Kudzu Does Not Stop, and Impossible Map. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pacific Lutheran University.

    Nick Gulig will read from North of Order, a book-length poem concerned with the locality of what is lost. In part a distorted reconfiguration of the pastoral landscape as it appears through the lenses of elegy and eros, North attempts to establish a sense of what it means to miss what wasn’t there to start with, departing from the world of things in order to return unsaved. Nicholas Gulig  was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Bangkok, Thailand. Currently, he lives in Fort Atkinson, WI and teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.



    May 3, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Jennifer Croft will read from her new translation of August, by Romina Paul, published by Feminist Press. Romina Paula is one of the most interesting figures under forty currently active on the Argentine literary scene: a playwright, novelist, director, and actor. Her two novels to date (Vos me queres a mi? and Agosto) have enjoyed extraordinary popularity and critical acclaim. The plays she has written and directed (including El tiempo todo entero, based on The Glass Menagerie, and Fauna) have been positively reviewed in every major publication in Argentina. Translator Jennifer Croft is the recipient of Fulbright, PEN, and NEA grants, as well as the Michael Henry Heim Prize. Her translations from Polish, Spanish, and Ukrainian have appeared in The New York Times, n+1, Electric Literature, BOMB, Guernica, and The New Republic. She holds a PhD from Northwestern and an MFA from the UI. She is a founding editor of The Buenos Aires Review.


    May 5, 2017 - 6:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join Prairie Lights and Director of the Undergraduate Nonfiction Writing Program Bonnie Sunstein in celebrating the semi-annual Writers Gone Public reading. The event from 6:30 to 8:15 pm will feature current undergraduate students who study with MFA Nonfiction faculty, reading excerpts from essays they have written this semester.


    May 6, 2017 - 5:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for this event hosted through the Magid Center and the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program for the Iowa Chapbook Prize Reading. A reception will follow in the café.


    May 8, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Harriet Levin Millan will read from her new book, How Fast Can You Run: a novel based on the life of Michael Majok Kuch. Five-year-old Majok fled his village when the government in the North of Sudan ordered attacks against the South. Along with thousands of other refugees, Majok trekked through war zones and wilderness to a series of refugee camps where he would live for the next ten years. Michael Majok Kuch attended high school, college and graduate school in Philadelphia. He was a featured Lost Boy of Sudan in the PBS documentary, Dinka Diaries.                 

    Harriet Levin Millan is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop. She is the author of two books of poetry and one forthcoming. She's won book awards from Barnard New Women Poets, The Poetry Society of America and the PEW Fellowship in the Arts. Originally excerpted in the Kenyon Review, her debut novel, How Fast Can You Run: a novel based on the life of Michael Majok Kuch, is a 2017 Charter for Compassion Global Read. She teaches Creative Writing at Drexel University and directs the Certificate Program in Writing and Publishing at Drexel University.

    “The refugee is the hero of our time... Harriet Levin Millan tells the epic story of a single refugee, the indomitable Michael Majok Kuch, and she gives song to them all.” —Ken Kalfus


    May 12, 2017 - 5:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us in celebrating the achievements of graduating Certificate in Writing students. Select students will read from their Capstone projects from 5-6pm, followed by a reception in the Prairie Lights Café 6-7pm for light refreshments and conversation.


    May 15, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Decorah author Keith Lesmeister and Minneapolis author Peter Geye will read from their new fiction.

    “The Middlewesterners in Keith Lesmeister's charming collection We Could've Been Happy Here share more in common with Ethan and Joel Coen's Fargo than any of Willa Cather's stalwart pioneers. But these characters and their stories are perfectly authentic, hilarious, and offbeat. This collection is the genuine article.”—Nickolas Butler.  Lesmeister’s writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, Gettysburg Review, Harpur Palate, Meridian, Redivider, River Teeth, The Good Men Project, and Tin House Open Bar. He received his M.F.A. from the Bennington Writing Seminars. He teaches at Northeast Iowa Community College.

    Peter Geye will read from Wintering, “A book about love and revenge, families and small towns, history and secrets . . . a deftly layered and beautifully written novel that owes as much to William Faulkner and it does to Jack London.  . . . Wintering is a remarkable portrait of the role that one’s environment—and neighbors—can play in shaping character and destiny.” —Skip Horack. Peter Geye is the author of Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road. He lives in Minneapolis.

    “The last time I read a literary thriller so profound Cormac McCarthy’s name was on its spine. But Peter Geye is his own man and Wintering is as unique and menacingly beautiful as its Minnesota borderlands setting.” —Richard Russo