August 27, 2017 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for the first Fall 2017 reading with this year’s residents at the UI’s International Writing Program (IWP). The IWP is the oldest and largest multinational writing residency in the world, and annually brings outstanding authors from every continent to the University of Iowa. The IWP celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. The IWP provides authors a one-of-a-kind inter-cultural opportunity and the time and space to write, read, translate, study, conduct research, travel, give readings, stage work, and become part of the vibrant literary and academic community at the university and in Iowa City, the only American city designated as a UNESCO City of Literature, in part because of the IWP’s presence. 

    Prairie Lights hosts events that feature two of the visiting international writers and one writer from the UI’s Fiction, Poetry or Non-Fiction workshops most Sundays at 4pm. Come to hear and meet writers from all over the world!

    Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (fiction writer; Kenya) is an author, lecturer, and arts curator. Her first novel, Dust, was published by Knopf in 2014, and received the 2015 TBC Jomo Kenyatta Literature Award. In 2003, she won the Caine Prize for African Writing for her story “Weight of Whispers,”  also the title of a 2003 volume. Owuor was an IWP Fall Resident in 2005, and returns as the Residency’s first Grinnell Fellow. She participates courtesy of Grinnell College.

    Kristen Steenbeeke is an MFA candidate in poetry at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she received the Rona Jaffe Foundation Fellowship. She was the winner of the 2017 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, judged by Ross Gay, and her fiction and poetry have been published in Pleiades, Tin House blog, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Poetry Northwest, and other places. She was recently a finalist in Mid-American Review’s Fineline Competition and Third Coast’s Poetry Prize.

    Kirmen Uribe (novelist, poet, essayist; Spain) His first novel Bilbao–New York–Bilbao earned him Spain’s 2008 National Fiction Prize, and has been translated into fifteen languages; his poems have appeared in The New Yorker and elsewhere. Elkarrekin esnatzeko ordua [The Hour of Waking Together] was published in 2017. He participates courtesy of the Etxepare Basque Institute.


    August 23, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Salon editor-in-chief David Daley will read from Ratf**ked, Why Your Vote Doesn't Count.

    Lauded as a “compelling” (The New Yorker) and “eye-opening tour of a process that many Americans never see” (Washington Post), David Daley’s Ratf**ked documents the effort of Republican legislators and political operatives to hack American democracy through an audacious redistricting plan called REDMAP. Since the revolutionary election of Barack Obama, a group of GOP strategists has devised a way to flood state races with a gold rush of dark money, made possible by Citizens United, in order to completely reshape Congress―and our democracy itself.

    “Sobering and convincing” (New York Review of Books), Ratf**ked shows how this program has radically altered America’s electoral map and created a firewall in the House, insulating the Republican party and its wealthy donors from popular democracy. David Daley is the Digital Media Fellow for the Wilson Center for Humanities and the Arts and the Grady School of Journalism at the University of Georgia. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.


    August 18, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City author and musician Joseph Brisben will read from his new book, Skip Day.  Set in 1959, American Grafitti meets Animal House in this outrageous semi-autobiographic novel.

    Joseph Brisben is the author of a previous work of fiction, Marvin’s Garden.  He has worked as an investment counselor and in college public relations. He has also worked as a reporter and copyreader. In college he studied English and American literature at the University of Chicago and at Drake University. He has been writing fiction off and on for more than four decades, and in recent years has taken classes with the Iowa Summer Writing Program. In addition to writing, Brisben sings, plays trombone and a number of folk instruments. He has four children and four grandchildren, and lives in Iowa City.


    August 16, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    An old man lies dying. Confined to bed in his living room, he sees the walls around him begin to collapse, the windows come loose from their sashes, and the ceiling plaster fall off in great chunks, showering him with a lifetime of debris: newspaper clippings, old photographs, wool jackets, rusty tools, and the mangled brass works of antique clocks. Soon, the clouds from the sky above plummet down on top of him, followed by the stars, till the black night covers him like a shroud. He is hallucinating, in death throes from cancer and kidney failure. A methodical repairer of clocks, he is now finally released from the usual constraints of time and memory to rejoin his father, an epileptic, itinerant peddler, whom he had lost seven decades before. In his return to the wonder and pain of his impoverished childhood in the backwoods of Maine, he recovers a natural world that is at once indifferent to man and inseparable from him, menacing and awe inspiring. 

    Tinkers is about the legacy of consciousness and the porousness of identity from one generation to the next. At once heartbreaking and life affirming, it is an elegiac meditation on love, loss, and the fierce beauty of nature.  

    Paul Harding wrote Tinkers while he was an MFA student at the Writer's Workshop. Published by a tiny press, Bellevue Literary Press, Tinkers walked away with a well-deserved Pulitzer Prize. For months Harding and his book were all we could talk about at Prairie Lights. It's a book of amazing subtlety and deep thought.



    August 5, 2017 - 11:00am

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for this special Soul Festival Black Author Panel  with moderator Michael Hill,  and authors Lena Hill, Glenance Green, and Deborah Whaley. 

    Glenance Green is a Chicago-based scholar, activist, playwright, and filmmaker. She is the founder and director of A g Thing!, a creative agency in Chicago that brings unsung voices and their narratives to the broader community. Ms. Green is the creator of Melanin Voices, a performance collective series of poetry, short stories, vignettes, fiction, and non-fiction by Chicago artists, woven together to create a beautiful narrative.  She is the author of the book Shades of Green, an anthological series of thoughts from the mind of one black woman giving voice to many. Illustratively, she uses seven forms of Greek love to weave together a powerful narrative through poetry, prose, and short stories.

    Lena and Michael Hill are associate professors in the Department of English and the African American Studies Program, both part of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. They are both coauthors of Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: A Reference Guide. Dr Lena Hill is the author of Visualizing Blackness and the Creation of African American Literary Tradition. Dr. Michael D. Hill is the author of The Ethics of Swagger: Prizewinning African American Novels, 1977–1993. The Hills are most recently the authors of Invisible Hawkeyes: African Americans at the University of Iowa During the Long Civil Rights Era.

    Deborah Whaley is associate professor of American studies and African American studies at the University of Iowa. Dr. Whaley is the author of Disciplining Women: Alpha Kappa Alpha, Black Counterpublics, and the Cultural Politics of Black Sororities, and most recently Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime.


    August 4, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Christine Woodside will talk about her book, Libertarians on the Prairie: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Rose Wilder Lane, and the Making of the Little House Books. This myth-busting dual biography finally reveals the full extent of Rose Wilder Lane's work reshaping the books into an anti-New Deal, proto-Libertarian fable--and details the estrangement between the two women that resulted from this editing.

    Christine Woodside is environmental writer and is the author of No Limits But the Sky: The Best Mountaineering Stories from Appalachia Journal, and Living on an Acre: A Practical Guide to the Self-Reliant Life.  She is the editor of Appalachia journal and  Connecticut Woodlands magazine.


    July 27, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Tim Taranto will read from his debut, Ars Botanica.  "Ars Botanicais a gorgeous hybrid: a memoir in letters to a phantom addressee, an introduction to life on this planet, a primer for how to live, a meditation on family. It also winds up being a beautiful and highly personal field guide to the natural world. It’s one of the most wrenching and honest accounts of falling in and out of love, of moving through a season of grief, that I’ve ever read." —Karen Russell

    Tim Taranto is a writer, visual artist, and poet from New York. His work has been featured in Buzzfeed, FSG’s Works in Progress, Harper’s, The Iowa Review, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Paris Review Daily, The Rumpus, and The Saint Ann’s Review. Tim is a graduate of Cornell University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.


    July 21, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Deborah Kennedy will read from her new novel, Tornado Weather. Charles Baxter says, “Deborah E. Kennedy’s Tornado Weather has a very distinctive energy, and there is real pathos along with subtle humor. The characters are from a social class that is too often overlooked and misrepresented. Kennedy gives them their due, with all their resourcefulness, resilience, and suffering intact.” 

    Deborah E. Kennedy is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana. Kennedy has worked as both a reporter and editor, and also holds a second Master’s in Fiction Writing and English Literature from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.


    July 19, 2017 - 7:01pm

    Iowa City Public Library

    Jenny Offill's Dept. of Speculation is wonderful.

    “You can read Jenny Offill’s new novel in about two hours. It’s short and funny and absorbing, an effortless-seeming downhill ride that picks up astonishing narrative speed as it goes.” —The New York Review of Books


    July 19, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa Summer Writing Festival Instructors Charles Holdefer and Anthony Varallo will read from their new short story collections. 

    Charles Holdefer will read from his darkly humorous collection of short fiction, Dick Cheney in Shorts. These stories comprise an esoteric and entirely fictional account of the imaginary formative years of America’s notorious Vice President.  

    Pushcart Prize-winner Charles Holdefer is the author of novels including Apology for Big Rod, and In The Game. He grew up in Iowa and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the Sorbonne. His short fiction has appeared in the New England Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, Los Angeles Review, The Antioch Review, l’Oeil du Spectateur,  and the New York Journal of Books. He currently teaches at the University of Poitiers, France.

    Anthony Varallo will read from his new story collection, Everyone Was There, winner of the Elixir Press 2016 Fiction Award. Christine Sneed says, “In so many of these stories, Anthony Varallo does something both rare and wonderful: he manages to be both funny and profound. Here you’ll meet the life of the party who’s secretly miserable and reconnect with the popular kids you knew in high school who now find themselves stalled out in melancholy middle age, their children and the world seemingly uninterested in them . . . there is so much here that I admired and enjoyed.”

    Anthony Varallo is the author of This Day in History, Out Loud, and Think of Me and I'll Know. Currently he is an Associate Professor of English at the College of Charleston, where he is the fiction editor of Crazyhorse.