• Iowa Stories: "Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright"

    December 3, 2020 - 12:00pm

    State Historical Society of Iowa - Virtual

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Celebrated author and journalist Paul Hendrickson will discuss his latest biography, entitled Plagued by Fire: The Dreams and Furies of Frank Lloyd Wright. A creative writing teacher at the University of Pennsylvania for more than 20 years and a feature writer at the Washington Post for the two decades before that, Hendrickson has been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize six times.

    Paul Hendrickson is a three-time finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a winner of it once--for his 2003 Sons of Mississippi. His The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War was a 1996 finalist for the National Book Award. His 2011 Hemingway's Boat: Everything He loved in Life, and Lost was both a New York Times and London best-seller. He has been the recipient of writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. Since 1998 he has been on the faculty of the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania, and for two decades before that he was a staff writer at The Washington Post. In 2009 he was a joint visiting professor of documentary practice at Duke University and of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the father of two grown sons, both working in media, and he lives with his wife, Cecilia, a retired nurse, in Washington, D.C. and outside Philadelphia.

  • Reginald Dwayne Betts and Kiese Laymon: Writers @ Grinnell

    November 23, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Authors and activists Reginald Dwayne Betts and Kiese Makeba Laymon discuss their newest works and discuss the intersection between creativity and justice. Moderated by Writers @ Grinnell director, Dean Bakopoulos.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Kiese Laymon is a Black southern writer from Jackson, Mississippi. In his observant, often hilarious work, Laymon does battle with the personal and the political: race and family, body and shame, poverty and place. His savage humor and clear-eyed perceptiveness have earned him comparisons to Ta-Nehisi Coates, Alice Walker, and Mark Twain. He is the author of the award-winning memoir Heavy, the groundbreaking essay collection How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and the genre-defying novel Long Division. Laymon’s powerful bestselling memoir, Heavy: An American Memoir, won the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction, and the 2018 Christopher Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose, and was named one of the 50 Best Memoirs of the Past 50 Years by The New York Times.  It is a nominee for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award in Nonfiction. Reginald Dwayne Betts, author of A Question of Freedom and Bastards of the Reagan Era, calls Heavy “the most honest and intimate account of growing up black and southern since Richard Wright’s Black Boy.” Heavy was named a best book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed, The Washington Post, Entertainment Weekly, was named one of the 50 best memoirs since 1969 by The New York Times, and was a finalist for the 2018 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction. The audiobook, read by the author, was named the Audible 2018 Audiobook of the Year. A graduate of Oberlin College, he holds an MFA in creative writing from Indiana University. He is the Hubert H. McAlexander Chair of English at the University of Mississippi, where he founded the Catherine Coleman Initiative for the Arts and Social Justice. He is at work on several new projects including the long poem, Good God; the horror novel, And So On; the children’s book, City Summer, Country Summer; and the personal narrative about family and Mississippi, I Don’t Know What You Mean.

    A widely requested speaker, Reginald Dwayne Betts often gives talks about his own experience, detailing his trek from incarceration to Yale Law School and the role that grit, perseverance and literature played in his success. In addition, he has given lectures on topics ranging from mass incarceration to contemporary poetry and the intersection of literature and advocacy. Between his work in public defense, his years of advocacy, and Betts’s own experiences as a teenager in maximum security prisons uniquely position him to speak to the failures of the current criminal justice system and present encouraging ideas for change. That work has led Betts to be appointed by President Barack Obama to the Coordinating Council of the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Named a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2018 NEA Fellow, Betts' poetry has been long praised. His writing has generated national attention and earned him a Soros Justice Fellowship, a Radcliffe Fellowship, a Ruth Lily Fellowship, an NAACP Image Award, and New America Fellowship. Betts has been featured in The New York Times, The New Yorker, and the Washington Post, as well as being interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air, The Travis Smiley Show and several other national shows. His memoir, A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison, is the story of a young man confined in the worst prisons in the state of Virginia, where solitary confinement, horrific conditions, and the constant violence threatened to break his humanity. Instead, Betts used the time to turn himself into a poet, a scholar, and an advocate for the reform of the criminal justice system. Betts’s latest collection of poetry, Felon, was published in October by Norton. He holds a B.A. from the University of Maryland; an M.F.A. from Warren Wilson College, where he was a Holden Fellow; and, a J.D. from Yale Law School, where he was awarded the Israel H. Perez Prize for best student note or comment appearing in the Yale Law Journal. He is a Ph. D. in Law candidate at Yale and as a Liman Fellow, he spent a year representing clients in the New Haven Public Defender’s Office.

  • Narratives, Nerdfighters, and New Media - a conversation with Jennifer Burek Pierce

    November 19, 2020 - 7:00pm

    University of Iowa Press - Virtual

    Join author Jennifer Burek Pierce in conversation with Complexly video editor Maia Ledesma and Iowa City Press Citizen's Zachary Oren Smith on Thursday, November 19th at 7:00 CST.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    In the twenty-first century, reading and watching videos are related activities that allow people to engage with authors and other readers. Whether they turn to The Fault in Our Stars or titles by lesser-known authors, Nerdfighters are readers. Incorporating thousands of testimonials about what they read and why, Jennifer Burek Pierce not only sheds light on this particular online community, she also reveals what it tells us about the changing nature of reading in the digital age. Narratives, Nerdfighters, and New Media is available for order from Prairie Lights for curbsite pickup, local delivery, or media mail shipping.

    Jennifer Burek Pierce is associate professor of library and information science at the University of Iowa. She is author of What Adolescents Ought to Know: Sexual Health Texts in Early Twentieth Century America. She lives and writes in the Midwest.
    Maia Ledesma is a video editor at Complexly, Hank and John Green's online video company, known for producing the YouTube channels Crash Course and SciShow. Since moving to Montana, she has created videos for Sexplanations, Nature League, and Animal Wonders. Maia has been an active member of Nerdfighteria since 2010, and she is constantly in awe of the community's ability to harness the power of online collaboration for good.
    Zachary Oren Smith writes about government, growth and non-on-the-cob corn uses for the Iowa City Press-Citizen. A Mississippi transplant to Iowa, he's written for Muscatine Journal, Scalawag, Lithub, Mississippi Today and the Jackson Free Press. In 2007, Hank and John Green's Brotherhood 2.0 project taught him to internet.

  • Dean Bakopoulos & Natalie Bakopoulos: Writers @ Grinnell

    November 17, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Writers @ Grinnell director Dean Bakopoulos interviews his sister, novelist and essayist Natalie Bakopoulos, author of the acclaimed new novel, Scorpionfish (Tin House, 2020). 

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Natalie Bakopoulos is the author of Scorpionfish (Tin House, 2020) and The Green Shore (Simon & Schuster, 2012). Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, Ninth Letter, Kenyon Review, Tin House, VQR, The Iowa Review, The New York Times, Granta, Glimmer Train, Mississippi Review, MQR, O. Henry Prize Stories, and various other publications. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, has received fellowships from the Camargo and MacDowell foundations and the Sozopol Fiction Seminars, and was a 2015 Fulbright Fellow in Athens, Greece. She’s an assistant professor at Wayne State University in Detroit. Her book reviews have regularly appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, and she's a contributing editor to Fiction Writers Review. She’s on the faculty of Writing Workshops in Greece.

    Dean Bakopoulos’ first novel, Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon, was a New York Times Notable Book; he co-wrote and co-produced the film adaptation, which debuted at the Los Angeles Film Festival and was a New York Times Critics’ Pick. His second novel, My American Unhappiness, was named one of the year’s best novels by The Chicago Tribune, and his third novel, Summerlong, was an independent bookstore bestseller and is now in development as a television series. The winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as NEA fellowships in both fiction (2006) and creative nonfiction (2016). With his spouse and occasional writing partner, Alissa Nutting, he is executive producer of the television series based on Alissa’s novel, Made for Love, for HBO MAX, premiering in 2021; he is also developing several other television projects and a feature film. His free monthly newsletter is No Soul, No Dark Nights.

  • Pappyland: Wright Thompson in conversation with Julian Van Winkle III

    November 12, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Join Nate Kaeding with Big Grove Brewery for a conversation to celebrate the release of Pappyland. 

    Your ticket enters you into a RAFFLE for a chance to win a bottle of PAPPY VAN WINKLE. Three bottles will be raffled off by the Lee Initiative - so three winners!

    Wright Thompson, Julian Van Winkle III, and Nate Kaeding of Big Grove will come together virtually to talk about the most sought-after Kentucky Bourbon whiskey in the world. Join us to listen in, get a copy of Pappyland shipped to your door, and to have a chance to win a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle. See more details and purchase your ticket here.

    Barrel-aged for over 20 years and released in limited batches each fall, fans vie for a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle each year online, seeking lottery tickets that offer a chance to purchase a bottle—which are typically priced north of $3,000. Julian Van Winkle III, the third-generation head of the family business, has been swarmed in recent years wherever he goes with people standing in lines for him to sign their bottles of Family Reserve, the whiskey he created to honor his grandfather Pappy Van Winkle, founder of the genteel craft bourbon.

    PAPPYLAND: A Story of Family, Fine Bourbon, and the Things That Last​ is the first all-access account of the legendary Pappy Van Winkle brand, written by the beloved ​New York Times​-bestselling author Wright Thompson in close collaboration with Julian Van Winkle.

    Publisher's Weekly's Starred Review calls Pappyland, "A fast-paced and colorful history of 20th-century Southern culture, told through the story of charismatic cult-bourbon maker Julian P. Van Winkle III. . . . ‘Being Southern,’ Thompson writes, ‘means carrying a responsibility to shake off the comforting blanket of myth and see ourselves clearly.’ Thompson more than fulfills that burden with insight and eloquence.”

    Wright Thompson ​is the ​New York Times ​bestselling author of ​The Cost of These Dreams​ and a senior writer for ESPN. He lives in Oxford, Mississippi with his family.

    He will be joined in conversation by Julian Van Winkle III, who is the third generation Van Winkle to be involved in the Kentucky Bourbon whiskey business. His grandfather, who was known as "Pappy", started the family in the business back in the 1870s when he was a salesman for the W.L. Weller & Sons liquor wholesalers in Louisville. He later built and was president of the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in Louisville, which opened its doors on Derby day, 1935.

    Your ticket to the event will include:

    • a copy of Pappyland, including shipping and handling
    • a $10 donation to the Lee Initiative Restaurant Workers Relief 
    • entry into a raffle for a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle - three bottles to be raffled, so three winners!
  • Abortion Care in America

    November 12, 2020 - 4:30pm

    Virtual - Zoom, with University of Iowa / Prairie Lights

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Professor Carole Joffe, sociologist and Professor emerita from the University of California, Davis will join Lina-Maria Murillo, Assistant Professor of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies and History at UI, and Francine Thompson, Executive Director of the Emma Goldman Clinic, to discuss Joffe’s new book  Obstacle Course: The Everyday Struggle to Get an Abortion in America. Book purchases from Prairie Lights will benefit the Emma Goldman Clinic.

    Carole  Joffe  is a professor at Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health and a professor of sociology emerita at the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on the social dimensions of reproductive health, with a particular interest in abortion provision. She is the author of multiple books, including Reproduction and Society: Interdisciplinary Readings (Routledge Press) co-edited with Jennifer Reich; Dispatches from the Abortion Wars: The Costs of Fanaticism to Doctors, Patients and the Rest of Us (Beacon Press ); Doctors of Conscience: The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and after Roe v. Wade (Beacon Press) and The Regulation of Sexuality: Experiences of Family Planning Workers (Temple University Press). Besides writing for an academic audience, she also writes frequently for the general public on the topics of reproductive health and reproductive politics, and has published op-eds, blog posts and letters in such venues as the New York Times , Washington Post , Huffington Post , The Hill and Rewire. 

    Francine Thompson is the Executive Director of the Emma Goldman Clinic. The Clinic has the distinction of being the oldest, continuously operating, not for profit, feminist identified provider of abortion care in the US. In her role as the Director Emma Goldman Clinic, Francine Thompson is responsible for the operations and management of the abortion, gynecology and other health service departments at the clinic. Her 33 years as an Administrator of an independent, feminist health care clinic that provides abortion care has given her extensive experience in reproductive health care management.  She has overseen the development and implementation of many cutting edge services, the most recent include transgender care including hormone therapy, and PEP and PREP, which involve prophylaxis for HIV exposure. She continues to be challenged and motivated with the unending assaults within the reproductive justice and abortion care movement. Her passion includes training students and volunteers and the next generation of feminist, health care providers and activists.

  • Ada Limón and Jennifer L Knox: Writers @ Grinnell

    November 10, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Poets and longtime pals Ada Limón and Jennifer L. Knox read from their award-winning work and share a public conversation, moderated by Writers @ Grinnell Director Dean Bakopoulos. 

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Ada Limón is the author of five books of poetry, including The Carryingwhich won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry and was named one of the top 5 poetry books of the year by the Washington Post. Her fourth book Bright Dead Things was named a finalist for the National Book Award, a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She serves on the faculty of Queens University of Charlotte Low Residency M.F.A program, and the online and summer programs for the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. She also works as a freelance writer in Lexington, Kentucky.

    Jennifer L. Knox's fifth book of poems,  Crushing Itwill be published by Copper Canyon Press on October 20, 2020. Her work has appeared five times in the  Best American Poetry series (including the 2020 volume), and in  Great American Prose Poems, Best American Erotic Poems,  The New York Times, The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, and Granta. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Iowa Arts Council and the Milwaukee County Arts Council. She teaches at Iowa State University and is the proprietor of a small spice blend company called Saltlickers.


  • Magda Montiel Davis

    November 6, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join Prairie Lights and the University of Iowa Press, along with the Nonfiction Writing Program for a reading with Magda Montiel Davis to celebrate the relase of her book, Kissing Fidel: a Memoir of Cuban American Terrorism in the United States

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Kissing Fidel is the winner of the 2019 Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction. Hanif Abdurraqib says of the book, “Kissing Fidel is most generous in how it treats the layered nuances of history; not just as fact, but as something that impacts the body, the landscape, the maze of the mind. I love how this work intersects, how it asks questions of both reader and self, with the understanding that there is no one clear answer. This is a rich and resonant text.”

    Magda Montiel Davis left her homeland of Cuba for the United States at age eight, shortly after the rise of the Cuban Revolution. She is an MFA graduate of the University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, where she was awarded an Iowa Arts Fellowship. Her book, Kissing Fidel: a Memoir of Cuban American Terrorism in the United States, received Honorable Mention in the 2019 Red Hen Press Nonfiction Award. It was also the winner of the 2019 Iowa Prize of Literary Nonfiction. It will be published by the University of Iowa Press. Among Magda’s published work is “She Might Die,” Bellevue Literary Review, and “Ashes Over Havana,” selected for inclusion in Best Women’s Travel Writing; Sweden’s Gränslös (“Aska över Havanna”); and Cobalt’s 7 th Annual Baseball Issue. A graduate of the University of Miami School of Law as well, Magda is a decades-long immigration lawyer and former Democratic candidate for U.S. Congress. From Havana to the American South to Miami, she now lives on a farm outside Iowa City, a UNESCO City of Literature.

  • To Marvin: A Celebration in Poems

    November 1, 2020 - 2:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and celebration of Marvin Bell’s poetry by his friends, colleagues, and former students, including John Irving, Tess Gallagher, Heather McHugh, David St. John, Naomi Shihab Nye, Kwame Dawes, Ellen Bass, Juan Felipe Herrera, Stephen Kuusisto, Dorianne Laux, Lia Purpura, Eric Pankey, and many more. Nathan Bell will sing, and we will raise a toast to the ways in which this extraordinary poet has shaped our literary landscape. “You are not beautiful, exactly,” he writes in his famous poem for his wife, “To Dorothy.” “You are beautiful, inexactly.” Marvin’s precise understanding of what the inexact beauty surrounding us means has made all the difference in the lives of writers and readers around the world.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

  • Senator Sherrod Brown in conversation with Iowa State Senator Zach Wahls

    October 30, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Join us for this special pre-election reading with Senator Sherrod Brown and conversation with Iowa State Senator Zach Wahls, to celebrate the release of the paperback edition of Senator Brown's Desk 88: Eight Progressive Senators Who Changed America.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Since his election to the U.S. Senate in 2006, Ohio’s Sherrod Brown has sat on the Senate floor at a mahogany desk with a proud history. In Desk 88, he tells the story of eight of the Senators who were there before him. David M. Shribman with The Boston Globe says of Desk 88, "Perhaps the most imaginative book to emerge from the Senate since Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts produced Profiles in Courage."

    Sherrod Brown is the senior United States Senator from Ohio, elected to his seat in 2006. He was the U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 13th congressional district from 1993­ to 2003 and the forty-seventh Secretary of State of Ohio from 1983 to 1991. A member of the Democratic Party, Senator Brown began his political career in 1975 upon election to the Ohio House of Representatives. Brown has dedicated his life in public service to fighting for what he calls “the dignity of work”―the belief that hard work should pay off for everyone. He resides in Cleveland with his wife, Connie Schultz, a Pulitzer Prize–winning columnist and author. They are blessed with a growing family, including three daughters, a son, and seven grandchildren.

    Zach Wahls represents District 37 in the Iowa Senate. District 37 includes all of Coralville, the west side of Iowa City, rural north and east Johnson County including Solon, all of Cedar County, and the town of Wilton in Muscatine County.  He is an advocate for LGBTQ rights and co-founder of Scouts for Equality, the national campaign to end discrimination in the Boy Scouts of America. He grew up in Iowa City and is the author of the bestselling book My Two Moms: Lessons of Love, Strength, and What Makes a Family.