Prairie Lights

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 16, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduates Michelle Huneven and Mona Simpson will read from their new novels. 

    Michelle Huneven will read from Off Course. Off Course is about a gifted Ph.D. student in economics who  moves into her parents’ shabby A-frame cabin in the Sierras to write her dissertation. Increasingly resistant to her topic (art in the marketplace), she allows herself to be drawn into the social life of the small mountain community. Michelle Huneven is the author of Blame, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, Jamesland, and Round Rock. She lives in Altadena, California, and teaches creative writing at UCLA.

    Mona Simpson will read from Casebook, her powerful new novel about a young boy’s quest to uncover the mysteries of his unraveling family. What he discovers turns out to be what he least wants to know: the inner workings of his parents’ lives. Simpson is the author of Anywhere But Here, The Lost Father, A Regular Guy, Off Keck Road, and My Hollywood. She is on the faculty at UCLA and also teaches at Bard College. She lives in Santa Monica, California.


    April 17, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Iowa City Public Library, Room B

    Disobedience by Jane Hamilton is the April selection for Paul’s Book Club. Jane Hamilton is one of our finest contemporary writers of fiction. She’s never written a bad book, and singling one out to read in a book group is difficult. I chose Disobedience because, looking back, more lively, touching and wildly funny scenes came immediately to mind and I became hungry for a reread, the way one becomes hungry for your favorite apple pie. A boy(Henry), setting up his mother’s email, discovers that she is having a passionate love affair with a wonderfully goofy European musician(his letters are very funny).  Henry has no idea what to do, and this of course gives us a story. We’ll meet at Room B in the Public Library on April 17 at 7 PM. See you there.


    April 17, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    University of Iowa professor Elizabeth Heineman will read from her new book, Ghostbelly. Heineman's memoir recounts her indescribable grief after delivering a stillborn son, her extraordinary and intimate bonding with the baby's body before the burial, and the impossible task of saying goodbye. Ghostbelly is a rare memoir that explores the unexpected space a mother occupies when birth and death coincide.

    "Ghostbelly is by far the most beautifully written and intimate account of something a lot of us have gone through, which is the death of an unborn child. It's an incredible and moving book, and I'm so thankful for it." —Jane Pratt

    Heineman is a professor of History and of Gender, Women's, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa. Her published works include Before Porn was Legal, Sexual Violence in Conflict Zones, and What Difference Does a Husband Make? She lives in Iowa City.


    April 18, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduates Karla Kelsey and Endi Bogue Hartigan will read from their new books of poetry from Omnidawn Press.

    Karla Kelsey will read from A Conjoined Book, which hinges together two new volumes—Aftermath and Become Tree, Become Bird—to create a meditation on the nature of aboutness. Kelsey is the author of Knowledge, Forms, the Aviary and Iteration Nets. She edits and writes for The Constant Critic, and co-directs SplitLevel Texts. She is on the creative writing faculty at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.

    “This conjoined book—these coordinating clauses—maps in structure and theme the essentially gothic architecture of affect. Which is to say: of reading itself. I couldn't put it down. “. . . the reader always changes. Pass it on.” —Christian Hawkey

    Endi Bogue Hartigan will read from Pool [5 choruses], which was selected by Cole Swensen for the 2012 Omnidawn Open Poetry Book Prize. She is the author of One Sun Storm and a chapbook entitled out of the flowering ribs. She currently works in communications for the public university system in Portland, Oregon.

    "These gorgeous poems are exercises in presence apposed not to absence but to “slippage,” change, diminution, that humming, hymning poverty . . . the political is frankly flush with the lush landscape of phenomena: of lily and pine, of camellia, of roses and starlings, any of which might conceal an election or an economy or a war." —G.C. Waldrep


    April 21, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join Iowa native David Thoreson for an evening of historic sailing voyages and a discussion of climate change as he talks about and shows slides from his book One Island, One Ocean. Thoreson currently has an exhibit at the University of Iowa's Keyes Gallery in the Old Capitol building. One Island, One Ocean chronicles and illustrates the epic journey of the first-ever continuous circumnavigation by sail of the American continents.

    David Thoreson is a sailor, photographer, writer, and speaker whose work has appeared across a broad spectrum of media from the National Park Service and Smithsonian to the Wall Street Journal and PBS. He works with different environmental organizations on ocean, sea-ice, and climate-change issues. He lives in Okoboji.


    April 22, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Paul Street, Michael Steven Smith and Debby Smith will read from and talk about the new anthology Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA.

    Earth’s population is threatened by catastrophic climate change. Jobs have been sent overseas, and young African American men make up the majority of America’s prison population. Half of the American population is poor, while the top one percent owns as much as the bottom eighty. Government police-state spying on its citizens is pervasive. Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA features thirty-one essays by revolutionary thinkers and activists on how to get from where we are now to where we want to be, living in a society that is truly fair and just.

    Paul Street is an independent radical-democratic policy researcher, journalist, historian, author and speaker based in Iowa City and Chicago. He is the author of six books, most recently Crashing the Tea Party: Mass Media and the Campaign to Remake American Politics. 

    Michael Steven Smith is a New York City attorney and author. His most recent book, is Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away with Murder. He is on the boards of the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Brecht Forum/New York Marxist School. He cohosts the radio show Law and Disorder ( on WBAI-FM.

    Debby Smith is a veteran feminist and socialist organizer. She co-edited Imagine: Living in a Socialist USA with Michael Steven Smith and the legendary New York City literary agent Francis Goldin.


    April 23, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Zach Savich and Hannah Brooks-Motl will read from their new books of poetry.

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Zach Savich will read from his fourth book of poetry, Century Swept Brutal. Savich is the author of Full Catastrophe Living, Annulments, The Firestorm, The Man Who Lost His Head, and a book of prose, Events Film Cannot Withstand. He teaches at the University of Arts in Philadelphia and co-edits Rescue Press's Open Prose Series.

    Hannah Brooks-Motl will read from her new book from Rescue Press, The New Years. "Hannah Brooks-Motl can write a killer line and her stunning voice is alive turning every which way… This brilliant book, her first book, is a gem." —Peter Gizzi

    Brooks-Motl holds an MFA from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is the author of a chapbook, The Montaigne Result.  She lives in Chicago.


    April 24, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop Faculty poets Robyn Schiff and Mark Levine will read from their work. 

    Robyn Schiff, director of undergraduate writing at the University of Iowa is the author of Revolver and Worth. Her work has been published in the anthologies Legitimate Dangers: American Poets of the New Century, Women Poets on Mentorship: Efforts and Affections, and 
Transatlantic Verse. She coedits The Canary and Canarium Books. “Wild with imagination, unafraid, ambitious, inventive, stitched to perfection by a formal genius that recalls the quirkily perfect forms (and tones) of Marianne Moore…” — Jorie Graham

    Mark Levine teaches poetry at the Writers’ Workshop. He is the author of Debt, Enola Gay, and The Wilds, and a book of nonfiction, F5. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award and an NEA fellowship. His work has been published in The New York Times Magazine, Outside, and The New Yorker. "Mark Levine's poems meld wit with the profoundest gravity, peculiar narratives with linguistic precision, and hubris with sorrow. Read them." — Susan Wheeler


    April 25, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Patrick Hicks will read from his new novel, The Commandant of Lubizec. Filled with footnotes and quotes from future fictional documentaries, Commandant explores the atmosphere of a Holocaust death camp with the knowledge of an historian and the emotional power of a novelist.

    “Patrick Hicks has accomplished a very difficult literary task. He has a given a believable and fresh and original face to barbarism. What a fine book this is." —Tim O'Brien

    Hicks is the author of several poetry collections, and his work has appeared in Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. He is the Writer-in-Residence at Augustana College and works in the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College. He lives in Sioux Falls, SD.


    April 27, 2014 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    UIHC Professor of Neurology Lud Gutmann will read from his memoir, Richard Road: Journey from Hate. Richard Road tells of Gutmann’s family’s American experience as chicken farmers in New Jersey, after fleeing the Nazi threat (and leaving their professions) in Germany. Gutmann recently came to the UIHC from West Virginia University, where he chaired the Department of Neurology for 28 years. He is the author of The Immobile Man and has published stories featuring his patients in various magazines and journals.