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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    August 27, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Julie Schumacher will read from her funny new novel, Dear Committee Members. Dear Committee Members is an epistollary novel told entirely in comic, wryly passive­ aggressive letters of recommendation from one literature professor, Jason Fitger. Julie Schumacher is the author of The Body Is Water, the short story collection, An Explanation for Chaos, and five books for younger readers. She lives in St. Paul and is a faculty member in the Creative Writing Program and the Department of English at the University of Minnesota.

    Dear Committee Members is a brilliant book that, in my head, sits comfortably on my prized shelf of academic novels, right between Lucky Jim and Pictures from an Institution. But it’s funnier than either, and more wrenching in the end.  . . . it is killingly funny because it’s all so killingly true.” —Jay Parini 


    August 28, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    University of Iowa instructor Daniel Boscaljon will read from his book Vigilant Faith: Passionate Agnosticism in a Secular World. Boscaljon proposes a model of faith for believers and unbelievers alike — a passionate agnosticism — that is rooted in a skeptical consciousness. Skepticism and faith are structurally similar, he writes, in that they share an "unknowing" quality. He argues that vigilance — the act of keeping watch, a spiritual practice in its own righ — is as necessary a precondition for the structure of faith as it is for the structure of skepticism.

    Daniel Boscaljon is an instructor at the University of Iowa and the editor of Resisting the Place of Belonging: Uncanny Homecomings in Religion, Narrative, and the Arts.

    “Unlike some academic philosophy, which is as hard to connect to the mundane as string theory, Vigilant Faith has a purpose outside the academy: It invites the reader to participate in a process of finding a way of faith, without asking them to, as Mark Twain would say, “swallow any stretchers.” —Kent Williams


    September 3, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Chris Leslie-Hynan will read from his provocative debut novel, Ride Around Shining.

    Ride Around Shining tells the story of a young white chauffeur and his wealthy black employer, an NBA player, in a discomfiting portrait of envy and obsession.

    Ride Around Shining is a West Coast, twenty-first-century Gatsby, warped through the lenses of race and class, and similarly obsessed with those very American anxieties of money, ambition and authenticity. This is the best and one of the bravest novels I’ve read in years.” — Benjamin Hale

    Chris Leslie-Hynan is originally from Wisconsin and attended Carleton College and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He lives in Portland, Oregon. 


    September 5, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event co-sponsored by the IWP, poet and translator Kazim Ali will read from his most recent books, Sky Ward, and his translation of Sohrab Sepehri’s poetry, The Oasis of Now. Kazim Ali is the author of the poetry books Sky Ward, Bright Felon, The Far Mosque, and The Fortieth Day, as well as novels, essays, and translations, including the essay collection Orange Alert. A founding editor of Nightboat Books, his poetry has been featured in Best American Poetry, and Ali is a regular columnist for the American Poetry Review. He is an associate professor of creative writing and comparative literature at Oberlin College and teaches in the low-residency Stonecoast MFA program at the University of Southern Maine. He lives in Oberlin, Ohio.

    “Ali is one of the very few poets now writing dedicated to the enlargement (rather than the abandonment) of the lyric mode. With these new poems, he has opened a wide, new space for the music of what happens and shown us a worthy, if challenging, task for that music.” —Donald Revell


    September 9, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    John Scalzi will read from his blazingly inventive near-future thriller Lock In. Scalzi is one of the most popular and acclaimed Science Fiction authors to emerge in the last decade. His massively successful debut Old Man’s War won him science fiction’s John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. His New York Times bestsellers include The Last Colony, Fuzzy Nation, and Redshirts; which won 2013’s Hugo Award for Best Novel. Material from his widely read blog “The Whatever” ( has also earned him two other Hugo Awards. He lives in Ohio with his wife and daughter.


    September 11, 2014 - 8:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, Hope Edelman will read from and talk about her nonfiction writing. Hope Edelman is the author of six nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters, Motherless Mothers, and The Possibility of Everything. Her books have been published in 17 countries and 11 languages and have almost a million copies in print. Her articles, essays and reviews have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Huffington Post, Glamour, Child, Self, Real Simple, and Writer’s Digest and she is sought after as a personal essayist whose work has appeared in many anthologies. She lives in Topanga Canyon, California, with her husband and two daughters. She teaches writing at Antioch University-LA year round, and at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival every July.


    September 15, 2014 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    New York Times bestselling author and Iowa City native Chelsea Cain will read from her new thriller, One Kick. One Kick tells the heart-pounding story of a twenty-one year old child abduction survivor trained in martial arts and expert by experience in the criminal mindset, and what happens when she sets out to track down some recently abducted children.  

    Chelsea Cain is the author of the thrillers Heartsick, Sweetheart, Evil at Heart, The Night Season, Kill You Twice, and Let Me Go. Heartsick was named one of the best 100 thrillers ever written by NPR, and her books have been featured on HBO’s True Blood and on ABC’s Castle. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and daughter.