January 15, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Nonfiction Writing Program alum Sandy Allen will read from A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise. "A breakthrough in meta-biographical writing... [Allen] marries several distinct genres to produce an insight into what it means to be a person with a psychiatric diagnosis...Thrilling... Gorgeous... a watershed in empathetic adaptation of 'outsider' autobiography." –The New Republic

    A Kind of Mirraculas Paradise is Sandy Allen’s rendition of the typewritten “true story” of their uncle Bob, a hermit who sometimes showed up at family vacations, and who had spent time in mental hospitals while growing up in Berkeley in the 60s and 70s.  In 2009 he had mailed Allen the typewritten "true story" about his being "labeled a psychotic paranoid schizophrenic," with a plea to help him get his story out to the world.

    Sandy Allen is a non-binary trans writer, speaker, editor and teacher, whose work focuses on constructs of normalcy, including psychiatric disability and gender. Their work has appeared in BuzzFeed News, CNN Opinion, Bon Appétit's Healthyish, and Pop-Up Magazine. Allen was formerly BuzzFeed News deputy features editor, and founder of the online literary quarterly, Wag's Revue. They live in the Catskills. This event is sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program.


    December 8, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Prairie Lights and the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing are pleased to present a reading to celebrate the launch of INK LIT MAG No. 15!  Created by and for students, INK LIT MAG is an undergraduate literary review at the University of Iowa dedicated to showcasing the work of first-year students and alumni of the Iowa Writers’ Living Learning Community. Daniel Khalastchi, Director of the Magid Center, will introduce the event—please join us to hear the first public reading from the next generation of stunning young writers. A celebratory reception will be held in the Prairie Lights café immediately following the reading.



    December 5, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Mark Wilson will talk about his new book, The Way of Nile C. Kinnick Jr.: Insights, Images, and Stories of Iowa's 1939 Heisman Trophy Winner, published by Ice Cube Press.

    “Hawkeye football has had so many remarkable heroes including Nile Kinnick. Mark Wilson's 'The Way of Nile C. Kinnick, Jr.' is full of what I always aimed for as coach of the Hawkeyes.” —Hayden Fry

    “Hawkeye football is full of legacies and Nile Kinnick was one of the best. 'The Way of Nile C. Kinnick, Jr.' is a great reminder of where we've come from and where we are going. —Kirk Ferentz   

    Retired Iowa City school teacher Mark Wilson is a retired school teacher and volunteer ambassador at the UI Athletics Hall of Fame. A portion of the book's sales will be donated to the six scholarships in Kinnick's name through the UI Center for Advancement.  

  • ANDREA GIBSON in conversation with MALLORY HELLMAN*

    November 30, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join us at Prairie Lights to celebrate Andrea Gibson’s new collection, Lord of the Butterflies. The evening will feature a reading by Andrea following by a Q&A led by Mallory Hellman, director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project. In a fierce oscillation between activism and love, Andrea Gibson’s newest triumph, Lord of the Butterflies, is a masterful showcase from the renowned poet whose writing and performances have captured the hearts of millions. An artful and nuanced look at gender, romance, loss, and family, this is also a book of protest. While rioting against gun violence, homophobia, and white supremacy, Gibson celebrates gender expansion, queer love, and the will to stay alive. Each emotion in Lord of the Butterflies is deft and delicate, resting within imagery heavy enough to sink the heart, while giving the body wings to soar. 

    One of the most celebrated and successful poets of our time, Andrea Gibson began their career in 1999 with a break-up poem at an open mic in Boulder, Colorado. In 2008, Gibson leapt into the forefront of the national spoken word poetry scene when they won the first ever Woman of the World Poetry Slam. Gibson is the author of four previous books of poetry and has released seven spoken-word albums. The honesty of Gibson’s work makes audiences and readers feel welcome as they are. Book signing to follow.  ***Tickets are not required, but space may be limited!! To reserve a space, call or visit Prairie Lights to buy a copy of the book and receive a ticket to the event with it. We will give ticketholders priority seating.


    November 28, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Our next Book Club will take place on November 28 at Prairie Lights. The book will be The Juniper Tree by Barbara Comyns, a mysterious take off on one of Grimm's Fairy Tales of the same title. There are many versions of this fable, but each has its own particular magic. Here Bella Winter, single mother of of a child whose father she barely knows, and baring facial scars from an automobile accident. Bella shows herself to be a hero, taking a job as an antiques dealer and meeting interesting customers. There are dark things ahead though.

    "The Juniper Tree, which appeared in 1985, is one of Comyns's most successful, confident and curious productions. It has the clear, pure narrative quality of a fable, but also shows a humanity and maturity." —Margaret Drabble


    November 26, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Former Iowa Citian, now LA street artist Morley will talk about his second book, Let’s Burn This Moment Down to the Filter: Art and Other Novelties. In this book Morley muses on everything from love and relationships to our obsession with technology, pairing his iconic images with thoughtful commentary, and providing fascinating insight into works that are often left to speak for themselves. Morley is a Los Angeles-based street artist. Blending humor, hope, and his unique perspective on life, he specializes in bold, typographic posters which he wheat pastes within the urban landscape.

    His work has been featured in the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, LA Magazine, and on networks such as ABC, CBS, Comedy Central, Discovery Channel, Ovation, Amazon, and Showtime. He has been shown in galleries around the world and has lectured at numerous universities, LACMA, and The Artisphere in Washington DC. He was the focus of a national commercial for Toyota as well as an original docu-series from Verizon. He has designed advertising campaigns for Smirnoff Vodka, Bud Light, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, and the anti-smoking campaign Truth.


    November 16, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City-based photographer Barry Phipps will show photographs from and talk about his book Between Gravity and What CheerWhen Phipps relocated to Iowa City from Chicago, he knew nothing of Iowa. In these photographs Phipps documents rural Iowa communities as they are now, without condescending or overemphasizing the decline of small town America. 

    Barry Phipps is an Iowa City-based multimedia artist and professional photographer. He is the founder of an apparel company, a recording studio, and a record label. His latest album The Town was released on his own Tight Ship Records label.


    November 15, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Kirstin Chen will read from her recent novel Bury What We Cannot Takenamed a most anticipated book by The Millions, The Rumpus, and Harper’s Bazaar. Nine-year-old San San and her twelve-year-old brother, Ah Liam, discover their grandmother taking a hammer to a portrait of Chairman Mao. To prove his loyalty to the Party, Ah Liam reports his grandmother to the authorities. But his belief in doing the right thing sets in motion a terrible chain of events. “Bury What We Cannot Take explores what it takes to survive in a world gone mad—and what is lost when we do. Kirstin Chen has written both an engrossing historical drama and a nuanced exploration of how far the bonds of familial love can stretch.” — Celeste Ng, bestselling author of Little Fires Everywhere

    Kirstin Chen is also the author of Soy Sauce for Beginners, and her short stories have appeared in ZyzzyvaHobartPank, and the Best New Singaporean Short Stories. She was the fall 2017 NTU-NAC National Writer in Residence in Singapore, and has received awards from the Steinbeck Fellows Program, Sewanee, Hedgebrook, and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference. Born and raised in Singapore, she currently resides in San Francisco.


    November 14, 2018 - 7:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    Novelist and UI Professor Venise Berry will read from her new book of essays, Driven: Reflections on Love, Career, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Berry writes that her fiftieth birthday snuck up behind her, held a gun to her head, and demanded her soul. That milestone triggered a deep longing to better understand the choices she’d made in her life. Offering words of wisdom, cultural analysis, historical context, and personal narrative, Berry’s essays deeply consider the challenges facing women today when it comes to relationships and careers.

    Venise Berry is the author of three national bestselling novels: So Good: An African American Love StoryAll of Me: A Voluptuous Tale, which received an Honor Book Award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, and Colored Sugar Water. She received a Creative Contribution to Literature Award from the Zora Neale Hurston Society, and was recognized with an Iowa Author Award from the Public Library Foundation in Des Moines. She is also the co-author of The Historical Dictionary of African American Film and The 50 Most Influential Black Films, along with her brother S. Torriano Berry, a professor in film at Howard University. Her research explores media, African Americans and popular culture. She co-edited Black Culture and Experience: Contemporary Issues. Berry is also published widely in creative and academic circles with numerous short stories, journal articles, and book chapters.


    November 13, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    "The staggering thing about a life's work is it takes a lifetime to complete," Craig Morgan Teicher writes in these luminous essays. We Begin in Gladness considers how poets start out, how they learn to hear themselves, and how some offer us that rare, glittering thing: lasting work. Teicher traces the poetic development of the works of Sylvia Plath, John Ashbery, Louise Glück, and Francine J. Harris, among others, to illuminate the paths they forged—by dramatic breakthroughs or by slow increments, and always by perseverance. We Begin in Gladness is indispensable for readers curious about the artistic life and for writers wondering how they might light out--or even scale the peak of the mountain.

    Former Writers’ Workshop instructor Craig Morgan Teicher is an acclaimed poet and critic. He is the author of three books of poetry, including The Trembling Answers, winner of the 2017 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, and he regularly writes reviews for the Los Angeles Times, NPR, and The New York Times Book Review. He lives in New Jersey.