June 6, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Former wilderness guide and summer park ranger Mark Neuzil will talk about and give a slideshow about his book, Canoes: A Natural History in North America. Co-written with Norman Sims with an introduction by John McPhee, this gorgeous coffee table book is described by The Star Tribune as, “Deep history . . . from the crudest dugouts through the most elegant cedar strips to featherweight polymers of today, with hundreds of color photos and a score of profiles of the people who made and paddled them."
    Mark Neuzil is a professor of communication and journalism at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author, coauthor, or editor of seven books and a frequent writer and speaker on environmental themes. Neuzil is an avid outdoorsman who began canoeing in the 1960s with his family, many of whom live in Iowa City. He is a past board member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and Friends of the Mississippi River.


    May 25, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Environmental writer and poet Taylor Brorby will read from Coming Alive: Action and Civil Disobedience, and his new book of poetry, Crude, published by Ice Cube Press.  

    In Coming Alive, Taylor Brorby reveals a way to hope during uncertain times. “Taylor Brorby has been as tireless as anyone I know in his fight to protect the planet... This account of his visits to the Bakken oil fields and to Standing Rock, his acts of resistance and subsequent arrest, is a powerful call to action, a primal scream of anguish and love for the original mother we must now link arms to protect.”—Pam Houston

    Taylor Brorby is a fellow at the Black Earth Institute, and travels around the country regularly to speak about hydraulic fracking. He is co-editor of the anthology Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America, and is Reviews Editor at Orion Magazine. His work has appeared in Orion, High Country News, The Huffington Post, and Hawk & Handsaw.

    “In Crude, a stunning poetic debut, Taylor Brorby fights for the environmental landscape of his home in the North Dakota Bakken fields ‘like a pike with a hook in its mouth.’ With a passionate voice, profound courage, and deft imagistic skills, he brings an ‘unrelenting and fierce’ energy to the page in hopes of protecting for all of us a ‘world filled with the necessity of beauty.’”—Mary Swander    


    May 24, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Terry McDermott will talk about Off Speed: Baseball, Pitching, and the Art of Deception.Off Speed is baseball magic. As soon as Terry McDermott set down thirteen deft definitions of pitches, with which I happily began to quibble, then gave me Willie Stargell likening the attempt to hit Sandy Koufax to trying to drink coffee with a fork, I fell into a flow state that held to the last chapter.”—David James Duncan, author of The Brothers K

    Terry McDermott is a former national reporter for the Los Angeles Times and the author of The Hunt for KSM: Inside the Pursuit and Takedown of the Real 9/11 Mastermind, 101 Theory Drive: The Discovery of Memory; and Perfect Soldiers: The 9/11 Hijackers. A native of small town Iowa, McDermott now lives in Southern California.   

    “A lovely memoir of the game as it is played from Iowa sandlots to the Kingdome, along with a fascinating and absorbing history of pitching. A terrific book for both beginners and longtime fans.” —Kevin Baker, author of America the Ingenious


    May 21, 2017 - 2:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Sioux City writer and artist Bruce Hopkins and his wife Jeannette will present The Art of Decay, published by Ice Cube Press.  

    In this collection of essays, poems, and drawings from his own personal journals, Bruce Hopkins reflects on the truth and beauty in nature, concentrating on how important it is to listen to the voices of nature, and to live our lives accordingly, from the moment of our arrival to the moment of our departure. After being diagnosed with Alzheimers disease in 2014, Hopkins chose to devote his mind and attention more fully to observation and creative expression in his journals. The relentless process of decay he explores is not only in the natural world, but his own decay as his mind is changed by Alzheimers. As in nature, decay makes way for new things, including hope, renewal, and familiarity.

    Dr. Bruce Hopkins is an educator, environmental writer, and historian. His previous books are When Foxes Wore Red Vests and Truth in the Rivers


    May 19, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Dalia Rosenfeld will read from The Worlds We Think We Know, a collection of short stories called “A profound debut from a writer of great talent” by Adam Johnson. Fiercely funny and entirely original, this debut collection of stories takes readers from the United States to Israel and back again to examine the mystifying reaches of our own minds and hearts. “Flying beyond what we are used to calling ‘conventional realism,’ Rosenfeld points to a shimmering spot just beyond the horizon, and leaves us yearning.”―Cynthia Ozick   

    Dalia Rosenfeld is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and her work has appeared in the Atlantic, AGNI, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mississippi Review, and Colorado Review. She has received a grant from the Artist Committee at the Israeli Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Tobias Wolff Award for Fiction, and the Mississippi Review Prize. She teaches writing at Bar Ilan University and lives with her three children in Tel Aviv.


    May 18, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Paul’s Book Club will discuss The Street of Crocodiles by Bruno Schulz.


    May 17, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    J. Robert Lennon will read from his new novel from Graywolf Press, Broken River.  "Broken River is a novel with multiple identities: it's a ghost story, a crime story, a coming-of-age story, a story about love and family and fiction itself. What is astonishing is how well all these elements work together, how they intertwine as seamlessly as the fates of Lennon's characters. As good as fiction gets."—Ben Winters. This addictively suspenseful novel delivers one of the most innovative narrative devices in modern fiction, and is the #1 Indie Next pick for May!

    J. Robert Lennon is the author of eight novels, including Mailman, Familiar, and Broken River, and the story collections Pieces for the Left Hand and See You in Paradise. He teaches writing at Cornell University.


    May 16, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City author Jerry Harrington will read from Crusading Iowa Journalist Verne Marshall: Exposing Graft and the 1936 Pulitzer Prize. On December 12, 1934, police raided a canning factory in Cedar Rapids, uncovering an illegal liquor and gambling set-up. Verne Marshall, tempestuous editor of the Cedar Rapids Gazette, sensed a bigger story and a wider network of corruption. His aggressive investigative reporting led to multiple resignations, nearly fifty indictments and the dramatic trial of the state’s attorney general. These explosive exposes earned Verne Marshall and the paper the 1936 Pulitzer Prize. This book traces the legacy of Marshall’s incendiary crusade across Iowa’s political landscape.

    Jerry Harrington is a frequent contributor to Iowa History Journal (IHJ), he recently won the 2016 George Mills-Louise Noun Popular History Award from the Iowa State Historical Society for the IHJ series Iowa Governors of Influence. Harrington recently retired from a career in advertising/public relations and has worked for newspapers in Spencer and Clear Lake, Iowa. He earned degrees from Cornell College in English and political science and a masters’ degree in history from the University of Iowa. He is an avid comic book collector, and has taught  "The History of American Comic Books," at Kirkwood Community College as part of the school's Continuing Education Program.


    May 15, 2017 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Decorah author Keith Lesmeister and Minneapolis author Peter Geye will read from their new fiction.

    “The Middlewesterners in Keith Lesmeister's charming collection We Could've Been Happy Here share more in common with Ethan and Joel Coen's Fargo than any of Willa Cather's stalwart pioneers. But these characters and their stories are perfectly authentic, hilarious, and offbeat. This collection is the genuine article.”—Nickolas Butler  Lesmeister’s writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, Gettysburg Review, Harpur Palate, Meridian, Redivider, River Teeth, The Good Men Project, and Tin House Open Bar. He received his M.F.A. from the Bennington Writing Seminars. He teaches at Northeast Iowa Community College.

    Peter Geye will read from Wintering, “A book about love and revenge, families and small towns, history and secrets . . . a deftly layered and beautifully written novel that owes as much to William Faulkner and it does to Jack London.  . . . Wintering is a remarkable portrait of the role that one’s environment—and neighbors—can play in shaping character and destiny.” —Skip Horack  Peter Geye is the author of Safe from the Sea and The Lighthouse Road. He lives in Minneapolis.

    “The last time I read a literary thriller so profound Cormac McCarthy’s name was on its spine. But Peter Geye is his own man and Wintering is as unique and menacingly beautiful as its Minnesota borderlands setting.” —Richard Russo    


    May 12, 2017 - 5:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us in celebrating the achievements of graduating Certificate in Writing students. Select students will read from their Capstone projects from 5-6pm, followed by a reception in the Prairie Lights Café 6-7pm for light refreshments and conversation.