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 7, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City native  Camille Dungy will read from and talk about her two latest books, Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys Into Race, Motherhood, and History, and Trophic Cascade, which is a collection of her poems about birth, death, and ecosystems of nature and power.   

    As a working mother whose livelihood as a poet-lecturer depended on travel, Dungy crisscrossed America with her infant, then toddler, intensely aware of how they are seen, not just as mother and child, but as black women. Across the nation, she finds fear and trauma, and also mercy, kindness, and community.

    Dungy is the award winning author of numerous books and is currently a Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.     

    “Calm, lucid, and sturdy, Dungy's account stares down the effects and unevenly distributed burdens of our shared past and present with clear eyes, full heart, and the kind of dedication to fact, feeling, and history that we truly need now, as ever.” —Maggie Nelson



    September 8, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Frank Meeink, in a special event introduced by Paul Ingram, will read from a new updated edition of Autobiography of a Recovering Skinhead, a raw telling of his descent into America’s Nazi underground and his ultimate triumph over drugs and hatred. A violent childhood in South Philadelphia primed him to hate. By age 16 he had become one of the most notorious skinhead gang leaders on the East Coast and by 18 was doing hard time. The story of Meeink’s downfall and redemption has the power to open hearts and change lives. The new edition, updated following the 2016 election, includes a preface by the author, nine new additional chapters, and a comprehensive resource guide. 

    "Frank Meeink’s book is a candid and captivating story of upbeat transformation of a raw racist into a courageous citizen which has much to teach all of us. Don’t miss it!" —Cornel West


    September 9, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event sponsored by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights, Daniel Karpowitz will talk about his book, College in Prison: Reading in an Age of Mass Incarceration. This book tells the story of the Bard Prison Initiative—a unique example of academic excellence achieved inside high-security prisons across New York State. The rigor of how students learn, and the careers they go on to pursue once released, force us to rethink our beliefs about who is in prison, reimagine the way forward out of mass incarceration, and renew our faith in the relevance of liberal learning.

    Daniel Karpowitz is the director of policy and academics for the Bard Prison Initiative and lecturer in law and the humanities at Bard College and is the co-founder of the Consortium for the Liberal Arts in Prison. He is in Iowa City as part of The Role of Transformative Education in Successful Reentry Conference. His guidance is helping to shape the UI's efforts in providing access to higher education in Iowa's prisons. More information about the conference can be found here (all events are free and open to the public):

    He will participate in an event prior to this one, on September 7th in the Voxman Music Building Recital Hall: Screening of Shakespeare Behind Bars Documentary Film with Q&A talkback with Curt Tofteland, founder of SBB.


    September 10, 2017 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Kristian Sendon Cordero (poet, fiction writer, essayist, translator, filmmaker; Philippines) writes in Filipino, Bikol and Rinconada, and has translated Borges, Kafka, Wilde and Rilke to these languages. Two of his most recent poetry collections received the 2014 National Book Awards; his debut collection of poetry in his three respective languages won the Madrigal-Gonzales Best First Book Award in 2006. He is the deputy director of the Ateneo de Naga University Press. His participation is courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

    Julienne van Loon (novelist, essayist; Australia) is a research fellow at non/fictionLab of RMIT University in Melbourne. She won the Australian/Vogel’s Award and in 2005 was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize First Book Award for Road Story. Her work, including the recent novel Harmless, has strong creative and cultural connection to Asia, particularly China. Her forthcoming collection The Thinking Woman includes interviews with leading women from across the globe. Her participation is made possible by the Paul and Hualing Engle Fund. 



    September 12, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City author Susan Futrell will talk about her new book from U of I Press, Good Apples: Behind Every Bite.  

    "Join Susan Futrell's journey from New England to Iowa to Washington to meet the growers working to produce perfect apples with exactly the crunch and flavor people want. This is a story of the uncertainties of a changing climate, a dance of managing pests and weather and second-guessing a global, unforgiving apple market to make a living and hold onto the land. Susan Futrell issues a gentle call to action to embrace the dazzling complexity of farming with all of our compassion and intelligence." —Glenda Yoder, Farm Aid

    Susan Futrell has worked in marketing and food distribution for over thirty-five years. She currently works for the nonprofit Red Tomato.


    September 13, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City author Lori Erickson will talk about her new book, Holy Rover: Journeys in Search of Mystery, Miracles, and God. "With grace and wit, Lori Erickson takes us on a pilgrimage to sacred sites around the world. In each location, Erickson reveals a bit more of her own spiritual journey, of her own exploration of the deeper mystical meanings that underlie all faiths. Through her own quest, she becomes a healer and a wise woman, and she invites us to follow her visionary path." —Mary Swander

    Travel writer, Episcopal deacon, and blogger, Erickson is one of the country's top travel writers specializing in spiritual journeys. She has published more than one thousand articles in publications including National Geographic Traveler, Woman's Day, Family Circle, Better Homes & Gardens, and House Beautiful.


    September 14, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Triathlete Anu Vaidyanathan will read from her memoir Anywhere But Home: Adventures in Endurance. Vaidyanathan is the first Indian woman to complete the Ultraman Canada: a punishing 10-km swim, a 420-km bike ride and an 84.4-km run, where she scored an amazing sixth place.

    Anywhere but Home is the funny, heartbreaking, unexpected story of a “typical good Indian girl and super-nerd”  woman who would not give up. With self-deprecatory humour and characteristic curiosity, Vaidyanathan tells the story of how she found triathlon, how she came to be training in one of the most challenging sports in the world. As she followed her passion on the roads of Bangalore and across several Indian cities, coaches advised her to get married. She was stuck in sports facilities that lacked basic support systems, even toilets. If she wanted to compete, it would need to be on her own salary. All she could rely on were her own two feet and the seat of her bike. She writes of her many firsts in the Ultraman, Ironman, Half-Ironman, but also of motherhood and pushing the boundaries of what a body can do. Heart-warming and heartbreaking, this is most of all a tale of love: for a sport and for life.


    September 15, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    IWP Alum Josephine Rowe will read from her new book from Catapult Press, A Loving, Faithful Animal.  "A Loving, Faithful Animal lured me in with astonishing, poetic prose, and a glimpse of an Australia I don't always see in fiction. But the true thrill of the novel is the carousel of haunting characters Josephine Rowe creates with unbelievable precision... The book is a deep, multi-faceted portrait of the inheritance of damage, one that left me aching and inspired." —Stephanie Danler

    Josephine Rowe’s writing has appeared in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, The Iowa Review, Harvard Review, Narrative, The Scofield, and the Paris Review Daily. She lives in Tasmania.


    September 17, 2017 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Ubah Cristina Ali Farah (fiction writer, poet, playwright, translator; Italy) is a Somali-Italian novelist, performer, teacher and social activist. Her two novels, Madre piccola [Little Mother, Indiana UP 2011] and Il Comandante del fiume [The Commander of the River] tell stories of the Somali civil war and its refugees in Italy. In 2006, she was awarded the Lingua Madre National Literary Prize, and in 2008, the Vittorini Prize. She has a PhD in African Studies from the University of Naples; currently she lives in Brussels. She participates courtesy of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the U.S. Department of State. 

    Esther Dischereit (poet, novelist, essayist, stage and radio dramatist; Germany) has given lectures and readings around the world. Most recently she published Blumen für Otello. Über die Verbrechen von Jena [Flowers for Othello. On the Crimes of Jena] and edited Havel, Hunde, Katzen, Tulpen, Garz erzählt [Havel, Dogs, Cats, Tulips – Garz Talking]. Her work spans multiple genres and often reflects the post-Holocaust landscape in Germany, e.g. Joëmis Tisch [Joëmis Table] and  Übungen jüdisch zu sein [Exercises in Being Jewish]. In 2009 Dischereit received the Erich Fried Prize. In 2017 she was a visiting professor at the University of Virginia; she teaches at the University for Applied Arts in Vienna. Her participation is made possible by the Max Kade Foundation.



    September 18, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    In a special event sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, Brendan Wolfe will read from Finding Bix: The Life and Afterlife of a Jazz Legend.  Bix Beiderbecke was one of the first great legends of jazz. Among the most innovative cornet soloists of the 1920s and the first important white player, he invented the jazz ballad and pointed the way to "cool" jazz. But his recording career lasted just six years; he drank himself to death in 1931—at the age of twenty-eight. It was this meteoric rise and fall, combined with the searing originality of his playing and the mystery of his character—who was Bix? not even his friends or family seemed to know—that inspired subsequent generations to imitate him, worship him, and write about him.

    Brendan Wolfe is a native of Bix Beiderbecke's hometown of Davenport, Iowa, and received his MFA from the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program. He is the editor of Encyclopedia Virginia, and is the author of Mr. Jefferson's Telescope. He has published essays in The Morning News, Colorado Review, and VQR. Wolfe lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.