April 30, 2017 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduates Jane Wong and Nick Gulig will read from their new collections of poems. Jane Wong will read from Overpour. This powerful book weaves together seemingly disparate topics such as war and child's play, language and exile, debt, animals and nature.  “Not afraid of being earnest, Wong's voice is both playful and cerebral, weaving in and out of the world—its wars and its violence, poverty and alienation—making a beautiful and smart, strange and new, word elixir."—Cynthia Cruz

    Jane Wong is a former U.S. Fulbright Fellow and Kundiman Fellow. Her poems have appeared in  Pleiades, The Volta, Third Coast, and Best American Poetry. Her chapbooks include: Dendrochronology, Kudzu Does Not Stop, and Impossible Map. She is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Pacific Lutheran University.

    Nick Gulig will read from North of Order, a book-length poem concerned with the locality of what is lost. In part a distorted reconfiguration of the pastoral landscape as it appears through the lenses of elegy and eros, North attempts to establish a sense of what it means to miss what wasn’t there to start with, departing from the world of things in order to return unsaved. Nicholas Gulig  was the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to Bangkok, Thailand. Currently, he lives in Fort Atkinson, WI and teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.



    April 29, 2017 - 6:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for a reading in Spanish by graduating students in the Spanish Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Iowa. Inma Aljaro, Pablo Ottonello, Violeta Gil Casado, Helena García Mariño, Carlo Acevedo Malo, and Paul Schneeberger will read. The reading will be followed by a reception in the café until 7:30 pm.


    April 29, 2017 - 9:00am

    Prairie Lights

    APRIL 29TH!

    Independent Bookstore Day is a celebration of books, readers, and indie bookselling. We’ll have limited edition Independent Bookstore Day collectible merchandise, and all the amenities you normally cherish for a day of browsing serenity, with a splash of festivity.     

    “Consumers control the marketplace by deciding where to spend their money. If what a bookstore offers matters to you, then shop at a bookstore. If you feel that the experience of reading a book is valuable, then read the book. This is how we change the world: we grab hold of it. We change ourselves.”―Ann Patchett



    April 28, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Tim Lawrence will read from his Disco Chronicle, Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor, 1980-1983

    "Life and Death on the New York Dance Floor is a remarkably intense piece of 'community history writing.' It breathes life into an iconic historical epoch and sociocultural scene without ever retreating into nostalgia or naive celebration. In fact, there's something unexpectedly electrifying about reading Lawrence's exceptionally well-researched historical studies. It is the sensation of remotely yet meaningfully becoming part of something hitherto only secretly known. One becomes slowly yet unequivocally aware of how that specific era's cultural and sociopolitical conditions, so thoroughly reconstructed in these works, resonate with the current sense of cultural and political impasse." —Niels Van Tomme, The Wire

    Tim Lawrence is Professor of Cultural Studies at the University of East London and the author of Love Saves the Day: A History of American Dance Music Culture, 1970–1979 and Hold On to Your Dreams: Arthur Russell and the Downtown Music Scene, 1973–1992.


    April 27, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Ed Pavlic will talk about the importance of black music to the politics of James Baldwin's life and work as he discusses his book, Who Can Afford to Improvise? James Baldwin and Black Music.

    Ed Pavlic is author of seven collections of poems and two critical books. He is most recently the author of Lyric and the Listener, Let’s Let That Are Not Yet: Inferno, and Visiting Hours at the Color Line. He lives in Athens, GA and teaches in the PhD Program in Creative Writing/English at the University of Georgia.

    "Who Can Afford to Improvise is a tour de force from one of our premier Baldwin scholars. Ed Pavlic's brilliantly insightful meditation on black music and culture and Baldwin's centrality to that tradition is a must-read." —Peniel E. Joseph



    April 26, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Merriam-Webster lexicographer and rock star among word mavens Kory Stamper will talk about Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries.  With sharp wit and irreverence, Kory Stamper cracks open the complex, obsessive world of lexicography, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it, to the knotty questions of usage in an ever-changing language. She explains why small words are the most difficult to define, how it can take nine months to define a single word, and how our biases about language and pronunciation can have tremendous social influence. And along the way, she reveals little-known surprises--for example, the fact that "OMG" was first used in a letter to Winston Churchill in 1917.

    Kory Stamper has her own Facebook Fan Club and an Ask The Editor video series. “As a writer, Kory Stamper can do anything with words: define them, split them, lump them, agglute them, and make them work for her every bit as ferociously and precisely as she works for them in her day job as a far from mild-mannered lexicographer at Merriam-Webster. You will never take a dictionary entry for granted again.” —Mary Norris


    April 25, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Brian Harrison will talk about his new book Listen, We Need to Talk: How to Change Attitudes about LGBT Rights.

    Listen, We Need to Talk tests a new theory, what Brian Harrison and Melissa Michelson call The Theory of Dissonant Identity Priming, about how to change people's attitudes on controversial topics. Harrison and Michelson conducted randomized experiments all over the United States, many in partnership with equality organizations. They found that people are often willing to change their attitudes about LGBT rights when they find out that others with whom they share an identity (for example, as sports fans or members of a religious group) are also supporters of those rights-particularly when told about support from a leader of the group, and particularly if they find the information somewhat surprising.

    Fans of the Green Bay Packers football team were influenced by hearing that a Packers Hall-of-Famer is a supporter of LGBT rights. African Americans were influenced by hearing that the Black president of the United States is a supporter. Religious individuals were influenced by hearing that a religious leader is a supporter. And strong partisans were influenced by hearing that a leader of their party is a supporter. Through a series of engaging experiments and compelling evidence, Listen, We Need to Talk provides a blueprint for thinking about how to bring disparate groups together over contentious political issues.

    Brian F. Harrison is Lecturer in Political Science at Northwestern University.


    April 24, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Bestselling author Stephanie Danler will read from her novel, Sweetbitter. Bon Appétit says, “This dynamite book is filled with the heart-wrenching indignities of self-discovery, and gives a gritty, inside look to the fast-paced, drug-filled, whirlwind scene of restaurant life.”  Stephanie Danler worked in NYC for over seven years for fine restaurants such as Union Square Cafe and Tía Pol where she gained the experience  that allowed her to deftly conjure the nonstop and high-adrenaline world of the food industry. “Danler’s sexy, astute debut is really a love story about the addictive pull of restaurant life. Anyone who’s ever tied on an apron will think, Finally, someone wrote a book about us. And nailed it.” —People Magazine

    Danler earned an MFA from the New School, and has recently relocated to her native Los Angeles.

    “Brilliantly written Sweetbitter is the Kitchen Confidential of our time.” —Gabrielle Hamilton, author of Blood, Bones & Butter



    April 23, 2017 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Peter Frase will read from Four Futures: Life After Capitalism. Frase argues that increasing automation and a growing scarcity of resources, thanks to climate change, will bring society as we know it tumbling down. In Four Futures, Frase imagines how this post-capitalist world might look, deploying the tools of both social science and speculative fiction to explore what communism, rentism, socialism and exterminism might actually entail.

    Frase is an editor at Jacobin magazine, a Ph.D. candidate in Sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center, and has written for In These Times and Al Jazeera. He lives in New York City.

    “(Four Futures is a)  remarkably clear-eyed view of the futures we’re facing, bringing humor and intelligence to the lab of speculative fiction to create four smart and sharply lit early warning signals.” —Warren Ellis



    April 21, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    U of I Press author Brandi Janssen will read from Making Local Food Work. Making Local Food Work is an ideal introduction to what local food means today and what it might be tomorrow. By listening to and working alongside people trying to build a local food system in Iowa, Janssen uncovers the complex realities of making it work. She asks how Iowa's small farmers and CSA owners deal with farmers' market regulations, neighbors who spray pesticides on crops or lawns, and sanitary regulations on meat processing and milk production.

    Brandi Janssen is a researcher and advocate for local food systems, and is currently a clinical assistant professor in the department of occupational and environmental health at the University of Iowa, and the director of Iowa's Center for Agricultural Safety and Health (I-CASH). She lives in Iowa City, Iowa.