Live From Prairie Lights

"Live from Prairie Lights” is an internationally known readings series, which features some of the best up-and-coming and well-established authors & poets from all over the globe. Presented before a live audience and streamed over the world wide web, this long running series brings the spoken word from the bookstore to the masses. Most readings begin @ 7:00 p.m. Arrive early to assure yourself a seat.

An archive of some virtual events is here.

The Live from Prairie Lights audio archive is available here.
Iowa City PATV has a video archive of readings located here.
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  • Kerry Howley in conversation with Rachel Yoder

    April 2, 2023 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program alum and former instructor Kerry Howley will read from her new book, Bottoms Up and the Devil Laughs: A Journey Through the Deep State.  "In this fascinating dispatch from the height of the surveillance age, Howley expands on her New York magazine profile of Reality Winner, the intelligence specialist who leaked classified reports on Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election... Based on extensive interviews with Winner, her family, and her friends, and enriched by incisive character sketches of Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and other whistleblowers, Howley reveals how the gravest threat to the national security state has become ‘ideological, morally serious twentysomethings finding themselves as they sifted through secrets their younger selves had promised to keep.’ Witty, humane, and fiercely intelligent, this is a striking critique of a world intent on 'burying itself' in information.” —Publishers Weekly
    Kerry Howley is a feature writer at New York magazine and the author of Thrown, a New York Times Editors’ Choice and pick for best-of-the-year lists including Time, Salon, and Slate. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, Granta, Best American Sportswriting, The New York Times Magazine, and Harper’s.She lives in Los Angeles.
    Rachel Yoder is the author of the novel Nightbitch. She is a graduate of the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program and also holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Arizona. She lives in Iowa City.

  • Jessica Laser

    April 3, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Poet Jessica Laser will read from her new book, Planet Drill. "In an era of disintegration, frack and melt, any human who wants to move away from habits of harm must feel for new ways to inhabit Planet Drill, using our signature bodily function: language. In Jessica Laser's Planet Drill, human language is like the slime-mold quietly recreating the subway map of Tokyo: deft, resourceful, pliant, responsive, and finally, collectively, wise."--Joyelle McSweeney

    Jessica Laser is the author of two books of poems: Planet Drill (Futurepoem Books, 2022), winner of the inaugural Other Futures Award, and Sergei Kuzmich from All Sides (Letter Machine Editions, 2019). Her work has most recently appeared in The Drift, Changes Review and The Yale Review. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently a PhD candidate in English at the University of California, Berkeley. 

  • Colin Winnette in conversation with Bennett Sims

    April 4, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Haints Stay author Colin Winnette will read from his new novel, Users.  Jeff Vandermeer called it "A surreal puzzle box and page-turner from which the reader may never recover...," while Andrew Sean Greer said, "Users is the best kind of book: both thrillingly old-fashioned, and utterly, daringly timely... Haunting, clever, witty, terrifying, moving; reader, I loved it."

    Colin Winnette's books include Coyote, Haints Stay, and The Job of the Wasp, which was an American Booksellers Association’s Indie Next Pick. Winnette’s writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Playboy, McSweeney’s, The Believer, and The Paris Review Daily. A former bookseller in Texas, Vermont, New York, and California, he is now a writer living in San Francisco.

    Winnette will be joined in converation by author Bennett Sims.  Sims is the author of the novel A Questionable Shape, the story collection White Dialogues, and a forthcoming collection Other Minds and Other Stories.  He lives in Iowa City.

  • Michelle Zauner - Mission Creek Festival Event at Hancher!

    April 6, 2023 - 5:45pm


    Festival Pass or ticket required - please visit the 2023 Mission Creek Website.

    The Mission Creek Festival Presents Japanese Breakfast indie sensation and NYT Bestselling author Michelle Zauner, who will read from and talk about her memoir, Crying in H Mart. She will be joined in conversation by Bryn Lovitt.  Prairie Lights will have signed copies of Crying in H Mart, newly in paperback, for sale at the event. "Michelle Zauner has written a book you experience with all of your senses: sentences you can taste, paragraphs that sound like music. She seamlessly blends stories of food and memory, sumptuousness and grief, to weave a complex narrative of loyalty and loss." --Rachel Syme, New Yorker Writer

    Michelle Zauner has won acclaim from major music outlets around the world for releases like Psychopomp (2016) and Soft Sounds from Another Planet (2017). Her most recent album, Jubilee (2021), earned two GRAMMY nominations for Best New Artist and Best Alternative Music Album.   Bryn Lovitt is a culture writer, book critic, and visiting assistant professor with an MFA in Nonfiction from Iowa.  Zauner will also sign books at the event.


  • Raquel Gutiérrez

    April 6, 2023 - 7:15pm

    Prairie Lights

    The University of Iowa Nonfiction Writing and Translation MFA Programs present Raquel Gutiérrez, who will read from her new book, Brown Neon.  “In these essays by a poet, arts writer, and self-identified ‘queer brown butch,’ encounters in Los Angeles and the Southwest with aging punks, border activists, lesbian legends, and others give rise to explorations of Latinx identity, cultural resistance, and the role of art. . . . The landscape cannot be separated from its history of violence, and there is no desert vista ‘that doesn’t have the uncanny attached to it.’” —The New Yorker
    Raquel Gutiérrez is an arts critic, writer, poet, and educator.  Gutiérrez is a 2021 recipient of the Rabkin Prize in Arts Journalism and a 2017 recipient of the Andy Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Grant. She is/They are faculty for Oregon State University-Cascades' Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing. Gutiérrez calls Tucson, Arizona, home.

  • MCF Lit Walk: Shelley Wong, Lauren Haldeman, Courtney Marie Andrews

    April 7, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    The annual Lit Walk returns to MCF this year with three rounds of speakers at your favorite local hotspots! Bringing Iowa City to life in new ways, hear an unexpected variety of work from a mix of talented local and out-of-town writers. For complete lineup, check the 2023 Mission Creek Festival Website!

    Join us at Prairie Lights at 7pm with Shelley Wong, Lauren Haldeman, and Courtney Marie Andrews, who will read from their work. 

    Shelley Wong is the author of As She Appears, winner of the Pamet River Prize, longlisted for the 2022 National Book Award, and a finalist for the 2023 Lambda Literary Award. She lives in San Francisco.

    Lauren Haldeman is the author of the poetry/graphic novel Team Photograph, and the collections Instead of Dying (winner of the 2017 Colorado Prize for Poetry), Calenday, and The Eccentricity is Zero. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Tin House, The Colorado Review, The Iowa Review, Fence and others. She lives in Iowa City.

    Courtney Marie Andrews is an Arizona-born poet and critically acclaimed indie-folk songwriter. She received a Grammy nomination for her 2020 album Old Flowers.  Her most recent album, Loose Future, was released in 2022Old Monarch is Andrews's first book of poetry and centers around themes of longing and a desire to belong while excavating scenes from her childhood in the American Southwest.

  • Mission Creek Festival Events in Iowa City all day Saturday!

    April 8, 2023 - 11:00am

    Various Iowa City Venues !

    The Iowa City Mission Creek Festival will host numerous literary arts events throughout Iowa City, beginning at 11am with a Small Press & Literary Magazine Fair at the Chauncey Building, a Small Press Industry talk with Black Lawrence Press and Meekling Press at Film Scene Theater 3, a The Sun Readers Write Workshop  at the Tuesday Agency, I.C.E. C.R.E.A.M . Zine Fair at Public Space One, a Literary Conversation with Fonograph and Sarabande at Filmscene Theater 3,  Lit Hub’s Thresholds Podcast w/ Jordan Kisner, Ganavya, and Kaveh Akbar at the Tuesday Agency, and at the end of the day, celebrate The Sun Magazine’s 50th anniversary Capstone Reading and afterparty with Camonghne Felix, Michael Torres, Zoe Bossiere, Joe Wilkins, and Rachel Yoder at The James! 

    There's a great list of musical acts as well!! For full MCF 2023 listing go to !




  • Sara Deniz Akant & Adrienne Raphel

    April 10, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Prairie Lights and Rescue Press presents poets Sara Deniz Akant and Adrienne Raphel, who will read from their new collections of poetry published by Rescue Press!  

    Turkish-American poet and performer Sara Deniz Akant will read from Hyperphantasia, which was listed as a top poetry book of 2022 by the New York Times.  "Akant conjures the ancestral surrealism, something long before the word knew itself. The life we trust becomes a blast of light through a new and clear lens with this book. Do you also love to loiter in weird and brilliant poems until your purpose for being there becomes clear? Well, here we are; I am glad we found our way to these codes and keys of the Deniz Dimension."--Ca Conrad

    Akant is also the author of Babette (Rescue Press 2015, winner of the Black Box award), Parades (Omnidawn 2014, winner of the chapbook prize), and Latronic Strag (Persistent Editions 2014). She has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a PhD in English from the CUNY Grad Center. She teaches poetry as Professor of the Practice at Tufts University, and co-curates the Kan Yama Kan reading series in Brooklyn.

    Adrienne Raphel will read from Our Dark Academia. These poems are described as having "Strong Pandemic Energy" by poet Natalie Shapero who says, “Raphel's work is cerebral, melodic, and discomfiting, expertly evoking contemporary disconnection: the mad chatter of machines and the infinite loop of the one-person call-and-response. These poems feel like what it feels like to think in a time when thinking feels unthinkable."

    Raphel is the author of Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them (Penguin Press); What Was It For (Rescue Press, 2017), selected by Cathy Park Hong as the winner of the Black Box Poetry Prize; and Our Dark Academia (Rescue Press, 2022). Her essays, poetry, and criticism appear in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, The New Republic, and The Atlantic.


  • Mary L. Cohen

    April 11, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Associate Professor of Music Education Mary L. Cohen will read from her book, Music-Making in U.S. Prisons: Listening to Incarcerated Voices. This important new work looks at the role music-making can play in achieving goals of accountability and healing that challenge the widespread assumption that prisons and punishment keep societies safe. Cohen and her co-author, Stuart P. Duncan argue that music-making create sopportunities to humanize the complexity of crime, sustain meaningful relationships between incarcerated individuals and their families, and builds social awareness of the prison industrial complex. The authors combine scholarship and personal experience to guide music educators, music aficionados, and social activists to create restorative social practicesthrough music-making.

    Mary L. Cohen is a music education professor at the University of Iowa who researches choral singing, songwriting, and ungrading practices. Her studies are published in book chapters and in the International Journal of Research in Choral Singing, Australian Journal of Music Education, Journal of Correctional Education, International Journal of Community Music, Prison Service Journal, and International Journal of Music Education. She led the Oakdale Prison Community Choir and Songwriting Workshop for 12 years before the COVID19 pandemic began.


  • Clancy Martin in conversation with Tyler Fyotek

    April 12, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Acclaimed writer and professor of philosophy Clancy Martin will read from his intimate, insightful, at times even humorous memoir, How Not to Kill Yourself:A Portrait of the Suicidal Mind, based on his viral essay, “I’m Still Here.”  He will be joined in conversation by Iowa City therapist Tyler Fyotek.   Author David Shields calls the How Not to Kill Yourself, “The most honest, complicit, searing, and discomfiting book I’ve ever read about suicide (and I’ve read quite a few—out of purely scholarly interest, of course)." He adds, "All great narratives pose a battle between the force of life and the force of death; How Not To Kill Yourself does this as brilliantly and powerfully as any book I have encountered in quite some time. Thrilling and useful.” 

    Clancy Martin is the author of How to Sell as well as numerous books on philosophy, and has translated works by Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, and other philosophers. A Guggenheim Fellow, his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, New York, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Esquire, The New Republic, Lapham’s Quarterly, The Believer, and The Paris Review. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and Ashoka University in New Delhi. He is the survivor of more than ten suicide attempts and a recovering alcoholic.

    Tyler Fyotek currently practices psychotherapy in Iowa City. In a previous life, he studied Classics at the University of Iowa and wrote a dissertation on death and ethics (deathics) in Homer's epics.