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.

The Writing University live streams many of our readings 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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  • Maria Kuznetsova in conversation with Anna Bruno

    April 15, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us to celebrate the release of Maria Kuznetsova's Something Unbelievable with a reading and conversation with fellow Iowa Writers' Workshop graduate, Anna Bruno.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Julia Phillips, author of National Book Award Finalist Disappearing Earth says of the book, "Something Unbelievable gives you things hilarious, things heartbreaking, things gorgeous and perfect and irresistible on every page. This novel crosses generations, oceans, and empires but never misses a step. It is one more testament to Maria Kuznetsova's extraordinary talent. You'll read it hardly believing such a good book could be – yet here it is in your hands! Believe!"

    Maria Kuznetsova was born in Kiev, Ukraine, and moved to the United States as a child. Her first novel, Oksana, Behave!, was published in 2019. She lives in Auburn, Alabama, with her husband and daughter, where she is an assistant professor of creative writing at Auburn University. She is also a fiction editor at The Bare Life Review, a journal of immigrant and refugee literature.

    She will be joined in conversation by Anna Bruno, a writer and teacher at the University of Iowa’s Tippie College of Business. Previously, Anna managed public relations and marketing for technology and financial services companies in Silicon Valley. She holds an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, an MBA from Cornell University, and a BA from Stanford University. She lives in Iowa City with her husband, two sons, and blue heeler. Ordinary Hazards is her first novel.

  • Andrea Bajani in conversation with Nick Flynn

    April 16, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Andrea Bajani to celebrate the release of If You Kept a Record of Sinstranslated from the Italian by Elizabeth Harris. He will be joined in conversation with poet and memoirist Nick Flynn.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Anderson Tepper, The New York Times calls If You Kept a Record of Sins, "A slim, astonishing book . . . Bajani etches an impressionistic portrait of a young man — like the foreign city outside his window — trapped in a shadow land between past and present.” Kirkus Reviews (starred review) says, “After years of gradually widening distance between them, a man learns some truths about his absent mother when he travels abroad to bury her and settle her business affairs…Bajani’s spare prose delivers startling imagery…as well as quiet reflection as Lorenzo addresses the departed Lula as he moves around her chosen home away from home….Bajani’s lovely, quiet novel lives at the intersection of love and misunderstanding.”

    Andrea Bajani is one of the most respected novelists of contemporary Italian literature. His novel, Ogni promess ( Every Promise), won the prestigious Bagutta Prize. Se consideri le colpe ( If You Kept a Record of Sins) won the Super Mondello Prize, the Brancati Prize, the Recanati Prize, and the Lo Straniero Prize. His latest novel, Un bene al mondo, is currently being turned into a film. Bajani is also a journalist, and he published his first book of poetry, Promemoria, in 2017. He teaches at Rice University in the Department of Classical and European studies.

    Nick Flynn has worked as a ship's captain, an electrician, and as a case-worker with homeless adults. He is the author of twelve books, including the New York Times best-selling memoir Another Bullshit Night in Suck City. His most recent book is This Is the Night Our House Will Catch Fire: A Memoir. His work has been translated into fifteen languages. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and NPR's This American Life, among others.

  • Hanif Abdurraqib - Armando “Mando” Alters Montaño ‘12 Memorial Lecture: Writers @ Grinnell

    April 20, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us with Writers @ Grinnell to hear Hanif Abdurraqib give the Armando “Mando” Alters Montaño ‘12 Memorial Lecture. This reading honors the memory of Mando Alters Montaño, an inspiring young writer and journalist who died while working in Mexico City shortly after graduation in 2012. 

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain't Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, Paste, CBC, The Los Angeles Review, Pitchfork, and The Chicago Tribune, among others. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize, and was longlisted for the National Book Award. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, was released in 2019 by Tin House, and won the 2020 Lenore Marshall Prize. He is the author of the newly released A Little Devil in America. He is a graduate of Beechcroft High School.

  • J.S. Dewes in conversation with Mary Robinette Kowal

    April 21, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us to celebrate the release of The Last Watch with science fiction author J.S. Dewes, with a reading and conversation with Mary Robinette Kowal.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Publishers Weekly calls the book a, "Gripping space opera debut." Library Journal, starred review, “An exciting, fast-paced ride around the edges of the universe.”

    After graduating from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in film production, J. S. Dewes went on to serve as cinematographer for independent films, write, produce, and shoot a zombie musical, slay internet dragons, and act as lighting designer for presidents and presidentialhopefuls. She currently resides in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, who’s proven to be a mixed blessing, but he makes her laugh, so she’s decided to stick it out. They have two dogs (full blessings) and a cat of unpredictable demeanor. The Last Watch is her debut novel.

    She will be joined in conversation by Mary Robinette Kowal, the author of The Glamourist Histories series, Ghost Talkers, and the Lady Astronaut novels. She’s a member of the award-winning podcast Writing Excuses and has received the Astounding Award for Best New Writer, four Hugo awards, the Nebula and Locus awards. Her stories appear in Asimov’s, Uncanny, and several Year’s Best anthologies. Mary Robinette, a professional puppeteer, also performs as a voice actor (SAG/AFTRA), recording fiction for authors including Seanan McGuire, Cory Doctorow, and Neal Stephenson. She lives in Nashville with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Visit her online at

  • Kim Addonizio and Kate Lebo

    April 23, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Kim Addonizio and Kate Lebo to celebrate the release of their new books, Now We're Getting Somewhere and The Book of Difficult Fruit: Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Phoebe Waller-Bridge, writing for The New York Times, says, ‘Kim Addonizio’s poetry gives me physical energy, particularly ‘For Desire’ and 'What Do Women Want?' –

    Kim Addonizio’seighth poetry collection isNow We’re GettingSomewhere(W.W. Norton,March 2021). She has also published two novels, twoshort story collections, and two books on writing poetry:The Poet’sCompanion(with Dorianne Laux) andOrdinaryGenius: A Guide for the PoetWithin. Her most recent publications are a memoir,Bukowski in aSundress(Penguin), and a book of poems,Mortal Trash(W.W. Norton). Her workhas been recognized with a Guggenheim Fellowship, two NEA Fellowships, twoPushcartPrizes, and other awards, and has been translated into severallanguages. Her collectionTell Mewas a National Book Award Finalist.Herpoems and essays have appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Times,Poetry, The Sun, and many anthologies. She livesin Oakland, CA.

    Melissa Febos, author of Girlhood, says of Kate Lebo's The Book of Difficult Fruit, “I loved this sage and sensuous book, and was enraptured by its curious tour through a Wunderkammer of plants, history, and personal narrative. Kate Lebo’s introspection and intelligence gleam on every page as she looks inward and outward through these colorful lenses. Her essays are ripe with illumination, enchantment, and a dash of the haunted."

    Kate Lebo is the author of the cookbook Pie School and the poetry chapbook Seven Prayers to Cathy McMorris Rodgers, and coeditor with Samuel Ligon of Pie & Whiskey: Writers Under the Influence of Butter and Booze. Her essay about listening through hearing loss, “The Loudproof Room,” originally published in New England Review, was anthologized in Best American Essays 2015. She lives in Spokane, Washington, where she is an apprenticed cheesemaker to Lora Lea Misterly of Quillisascut Farm.

  • Sarah Prineas in conversation with Jenn Reese

    April 27, 2021 - 6:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us to celebrate the release of Iowa City author Sarah Prineas’ new middle grade outer-space adventure, Trouble in the Stars. Sarah will be joined in conversation by author Jenn Reese.

    To join this event, register here.

    Sarah Prineas’s new book is an action-packed, funny, and heartwarming outer-space adventure about a troublesome little shape-shifter on the run from the law. Perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Geoff Rodkey! Trouble knows two things: they are a shapeshifter, and they are running from something--but they don't know what. Changing from blob of goo form, to adorable puppy form, to human boy form, Trouble stows away on a spaceship on an intergalactic journey. This shapeshifting adventure resonates with themes of safety, freedom, and finding a way to feel at home.

    Sarah Prineas is the author of the Magic Thief series, the Winterling trilogy,  Ash & BrambleRose & Thorn, and  Heart of the Land from the Spirit Animals series. She lives in Iowa City, Iowa. You can visit Sarah online at

    Jenn Reese (she/they) writes speculative fiction for readers of all ages. Her middle grade books include A Game of Fox & Squirrels, an NPR Best Book of 2020, and the trilogy beginning with Above World, a finalist for the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy. Reese lives in Portland, Oregon, where she works as a graphic designer, plays video games, and revels in the rain.

  • Alissa Nutting, Christina Lee, and Dean Bakopoulos: Writers @ Grinnell

    April 28, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us with Writers @ Grinnell for a conversation between Made for Love author Alissa Nutting, showrunner Christina Lee, and Dean Bakopolous about the adaptation of the novel to TV.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    HBO Max’s new hit series Made for Love, was co-created by Assistant Professor of English Alissa Nutting (executive producer) who shepherded the TV adaptation of her acclaimed 2017 novel of the same name alongside showrunner Christina Lee (Search Party). Starring Cristin Milioti, Billy Magnussen, Ray Romano, and Noma Dumezweni, Made for Love follows the adventures of Hazel Green as she attempts to escape her sociopathic tech-billionaire husband, Byron.   Writers @ Grinnell director Dean Bakopoulos, also a writer/executive producer of the series, will talk to Nutting and Lee about the challenges *and fun!) of adapting a novel for TV.

    Alissa Nutting is the author of the novels Made for Love, New York Times editor's choice selection, and Tampa, the film version of which is in development at HBO, as well as the story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, an expanded/revised version of which is being rereleased in Summer 2018 as part of Ecco's "Art of the Story" series. A nonfiction book of her comedic essays is forthcoming from Ecco in 2019. Her fiction and essays have appeared in publications such as Tin House, BOMB, Elle, Real Simple, BuzzFeed, and many others. She is currently at work on two television projects--one animated in development with Cartoon Network, the other based on her recent novel and being co-written with Dean Bakopoulos for Paramount Studios. She is an assistant professor of English and writer-in-residence at Grinnell College.

    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 2017 Los Angeles Film Festival starring Jeffrey Wahlberg and Rashida Jones. 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 feature film based on Bakopoulos' original screenplay. His fiction, essays, and op-eds have appeared in Zoetrope, Tin House, Virginia QuarterlyReview, Real Simple, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Progressive, The Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times. The winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as NEA fellowships in both fiction (2006) and creative nonfiction (2016), Bakopoulos is writer-in-residence at Grinnell College and also teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program. He is also co-writing the television adaptation of Alissa Nutting's novel, Made for Love, for Paramount Studios.

  • Geoffrey Nutter & Matthew Rohrer

    May 4, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Geoffrey Nutter and Matthew Rohrer to celebrate their new books of poetry, Giant Moth Perishes out on May 4 in hardcover and paperback, and The Sky Contains the Plans, released in paperback April 7.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    John Ebersole of Kenyon Review says of Geoffrey Nutter's work, “For years now, Nutter has been quietly writing some of the most beautiful poems in America.”

    Geoffrey Nutter has published five books, including The Rose of January and Cities at Dawn (both from Wave Books), and has taught poetry classes at Princeton, The New School, New York University, Columbia University, and the 92nd Street Y in NYC. Nutter’s poems have been translated into Spanish, French, and Mandarin. He currently teaches Greek and Latin Classics at Queens College, and runs the Wallson Glass Poetry Seminars in New York City.

    Publishers Weekly, starred review, calls The Sky Contains the Plans, "Serene, odd, and quietly captivating, this is a celebration of the unconscious mind’s delights."

    Matthew Rohrer is the author of The Sky Contains the PlansThe Others, which was the winner of the 2017 Believer Book Award, Surrounded by FriendsDestroyer and PreserverA Plate of ChickenRise Up and A Green Light, which was shortlisted for the 2005 Griffin Poetry Prize. He is also the author of Satellite, and co-author, with Joshua Beckman, of Nice Hat. Thanks., and the audio CD Adventures While Preaching the Gospel of Beauty. He has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and The Next Big Thing. His first book, A Hummock in the Malookas was selected for the National Poetry Series by Mary Oliver in 1994. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, and teaches at NYU.

  • Chloe Angyal in conversation with Brandon Taylor

    May 10, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us to celebrate the release of Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers Is Saving Ballet from Itself with a reading from author Chloe Angyal and conversation with Brandon Taylor, author of Real Life.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Every day, in dance studios all across America, millions of little girls line up at the barre and take ballet class. Their time in the studio shapes their lives, instilling lessons about gender, power, the value of their bodies and minds, and their place in the world both in and outside of dance. In Turning Pointe, journalist Chloe Angyal captures the intense love for ballet that so many dancers feel, while also grappling with its devastating shortcomings: the power imbalance of an art form performed mostly by women, but dominated by male choreographers and ballet masters, the impossible standards of beauty and thinness, and the racism that keeps so many people out of ballet. A new generation of dancers is confronting these issues head on. If ballet is going to survive the 21st century and forge a path into a more socially just future, this reckoning is essential.

    Chloe Angyal is a journalist from Sydney, Australia. She is a contributing editor at and her writing about politics and culture has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlantic, Guardian, and New York Magazine. She holds a BA from Princeton and a PhD in arts and media from the University of New South Wales. She lives in Coralville, Iowa.

    Brandon Taylor is the author of the novel Real Life, which was a New York Times Editors’ Choice. His work has appeared in Guernica, American Short Fiction, Gulf Coast, Buzzfeed Reader, O: The Oprah Magazine, Gay Mag, The New Yorker online, The Literary Review, and elsewhere. He is the senior editor of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and a staff writer at Lit Hub. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow.  His story collection Filthy Animals, is forthcoming from Riverhead Books in June 2021.