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 hereWe're sorry! We're experiencing technical difficulties with our system and events will not be live streamed until we can fix it. We apologize for any inconvenience!

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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    June 19, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Paul's book club will discuss Garnethill by Denise Mina. This gritty, award-winning debut novel is set in the grim precincts of Glasgows Garnethill. There the unlucky Maureen OíDonnell wakes up one morning to discover her therapist-boyfriend dead in the living room. She now finds herself the prime suspect in his murder. Please join us! Everyone is welcome – just read the book and come to the meeting for a fun talk!


    June 20, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for a very special evening in celebration of Walt Whitman's 200th birthday as editors Ed Folsom, Jim Perlman and Dan Campion read from the new edition of their monumental anthology, Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song. Beginning with Ralph Waldo Emerson's famous 1855 letter ("I greet you at the beginning of a great career..."), this edition charts the continuing responses to Whitman’s work, from Thoreau, Pound, Lawrence, Neruda, and Ginsberg, to Adrienne Rich, Gary Snyder, and Julia Alvarez. 

    Ed Folsom is the Roy J. Carver Professor of English at the University of Iowa, where he edits the Walt Whitman Quarterly Review and the Whitman Series for the UIowa Press, and co-directs the online Walt Whitman Archive. 

    Jim Perlman is founding editor and publisher of Holy Cow! Press, which has published over 125 books since 1977. He holds an MA from Iowa where he attended the first Whitman Seminar chaired by Ed Folsom that became the inspiration for Walt Whitman: The Measure of His Song.

    Dan Campion, author of Peter De Vries and Surrealismand Calypso has published poetry in Able Muse, Light, Measure, The Midwest Quarterly, The North American Review, Poet Lore, Poetry, Rolling Stone, Shenandoah, and Think. 


    June 23, 2019 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    "Jeanette Miller makes a stellar debut in Unscheduled Flights, a collection of poetry that spreads its wings and takes the reader on a journey of the imagination from George’s Bar and Grill to the River Ganges, from the mundane to the mystical. Miller heeds the call of the symbolic crow throughout, that call of unconscious transformation. With the detail, precision and perspective of a visual artist, the poet glides over loves lost and won, youth finally finding its grounding in age." —Mary Swander

    Miller's work has appeared in Caesura, Meanjin, Phoebe, Poet & Critic, Prairie Schooner, Shenandoah, Southern Indiana Review, and WordWrights. She is the winner of a Fellowship to the Vermont Studio Center, Iowa Arts Council First Prize in Poetry, and a Residency at the Norman Mailer Writers' Colony. She lives in Iowa City.

    "With longing, elegiac notes, wry humor, and an Edward Hopper-esque paint brush, Matthew Graham traverses the topography of a life made satisfyingly whole through a steadfast examination of the everyday, the cosmopolitan, and the contemplative. It's a potent combination that reminds me, in this moment of political divisiveness, that unwavering interiority is the first step toward bridging the invisible boundaries that divide us. The Geography of Home marks a poet at the height of his powers: wise, stinging, and wonderfully alive. You have to read these poems."—Marcus Wicker

    Matthew Graham is the author of the previous books of poetry New World Architecture, 1946, and A World Without End, and he is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, Pushcart, the Indiana Arts Commission and the Vermont Studio Center. He lives in Vermont. 

    Both Miller and Graham have MFA's from the Iowa Writers' Workshop.


    June 24, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City poet and political scientist, Michael Lewis-Beck will read from his new collection of poems, Rural Routes.  "The people that Mike Lewis-Beck conjures in Rural Routes are so enmeshed in their landscapes that where they are and who they are flicker so quickly as to become one continuous light. This is the glow of the all-night diner, the lunar light of eggs. Summer storms, lightning bugs in a jar, a faint dawn 'but enough to navigate our fall field of corn.' This is a book you can see by. These poems map their way through familiar terrains made new and strange by the clarity of his vision and the swoon of his song." —James DíAgostino

    Michael Lewis-Beck is F. Wendell Miller Distinguished Professor of Political Science at the University of Iowa. His interests are comparative elections and election forecasting – for which he is internationally known. His poems have appeared in numerous literary journals, and his mystery novel, Death Walks the Riviera, was published in 2011.


    June 25, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Spoken word poet Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey, will present his new book, Look, Black Boy. In his debut poem collection, Rainey explores racial tensions in America from the perspective of a young Black male. Rainey hails from Columbia, Missouri, and holds a bachelors degree in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Iowa. He co-founded the literary magazine Black Art; Real Stories, and has been published in the Little Village Magazine. As a performer he is the winner of the Des Moines Poetry Slam, the Iowa City Poetry Slam, and a two-time winner of the Fire & Ice Poetry Slam. He has done spoken word around the country, including New York City, Nebraska, Missouri, Illinois, and Iowa. When he is not writing and performing he is actively producing local events, like Drop The Mic, to showcase the immense talent in the Iowa City community, as well as workshops to teach youth how to write and use spoken word.


    June 26, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    The IWP Between the Lines Program presents José Olivarez and Poupeh Missaghi, who will read from their work. 

    José Olivarez is the author of Citizen Illegal, which was shortlisted for the 2019 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award. "Citizen Illegal is a fearless, instrumental, honest collection of poetry. In other words, the book is fire— Olivarez's poetry navigates the razor sharp duality and utter contradiction of citizenship." —Willie Perdomo

    Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. He is a co-host of the podcast, The Poetry Gods, and has been published in the anthology The BreakBeat Poets

    Poupeh Missaghi is a writer, educator, English/Persian translator, and is Iranís editor-at-large for Asymptote. Her work has appeared in Entropy, The Brooklyn Rail, The Feminist Wire, World Literature Today, Guernica, and The Quarterly Conversation.


    June 27, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writerís Workshop summer faculty member Amanda Nadelberg will read from Songs from a Mountain. "Amanda Nadelberg's poetry resembles a city where all kinds of things are happening at once, some of them funny and others pretty scary— a dizzying achievement that rings out loud and precise and clear." —John Ashbery

    Nadelberg is also the author of Bright Brave Phenomena, and Isa the Truck Named Isadore, winner of the Slope Editions Book Prize. She was selected as one of the Poetry Society of Americaís New American Poets, and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She lives in Oakland, California. 

    Fred Schmalz will read from Action in the Orchards. In this debut poetry collection, Schmalz transforms encounters —with art and architecture, friends and strangers, past and future — into irreverent, musical meditations on art-making, daily life, love, and mortality. Through a kaleidoscope of speech fragments, elisions, leaps, and wordplay, the poems invoke rich sensory and emotional perspectives.

    Schmalz is an artist and poet whose current writing focuses on textual response to encounters with music, visual art, and performance. In 2018, he was commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic as poet-in-residence for the FluxConcert in its year-long Fluxus Festival. He lives in Chicago, where he makes art with Susy Bielak in the collaborative Balas & Wax.


    June 29, 2019 - 11:00am

    Prairie Lights

    Please join us for a special launch event for We the Interwoven: An Anthology of Bicultural Iowa, Volume 2, an anthology of Iowa residents who have multicultural backgrounds, compiled and edited by Andrea Wilson.

    At six years old, Antonia Rivera crossed the border from Mexico with nothing but the doll in her hands. Ajla Dizdarević’s family brought traditions across an ocean after leaving a home torn apart by the Bosnian War. Sarah Elgatian’s grandmother played cards and spoke of a country her Armenian-American grandchild had never known. Hieu Pham couldn’t relate to all of her mother’s Vietnamese traditions, but when she became a mother herself, everything changed. Rana Hewezi grappled with tragedy in her Egyptian family’s past and the power of a name in determining her fate. Anthony Mielke couldn’t shake the feeling that there was more to his birth story than he had been told. A member of the Meskwaki Nation, Dawson Davenport was born into a world that was not told in the history books.

    How do we make our way in a society that looks nothing like the one our families once knew? How do we find a sense of belonging in a past and a place we’ve never been, or in a world that feels as if it’s changing faster than we are?

    These seven stories take us on a ride through the heart and the moral conscience as they explore how we find identity and make a future in an America that is still deciding on its own.

    Join the Iowa Writers’ House for a special reading and launch event at Prairie Lights Bookstore featuring the second anthology written by Iowa immigrants and bicultural residents from across the state of Iowa. 

    “What a beautiful, moving, haunting collection of stories. This project, and the Bicultural Writers’ Fellowship that produced it, gives me hope for what’s possible in the future. By crafting the stories of their lives and sharing their struggles and accomplishments, these writers offer a generosity of spirit and the kind of insight that creates connections—with readers, with strangers, with the many different people who make up Iowa, the U.S., the world. This book is a triumph.” —Michele Morano, author of Grammar Lessons: Translating a Life in Spain

    "...In the quest of all people to find freedom, it is heartening that Antonia and others can find a home in Iowa, which has not forgotten its own immigrant story." —Art Cullen, Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist and author of Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper


    July 2, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    University of Iowa school of journalism alum and former soldier Alicia Dill will read from her thriller, Squared Away.  One phone call in the middle of the night changes the life of a former soldier, Joelle McCoy. Her best friend and battle buddy, Concepcion Chapa, is dead and McCoy isn't taking the alleged car accident at face value. Determined to discover the truth, McCoy sets out on a mission to find her best friend and bring her home.

    Alicia Dill spent six years as an Army soldier and globally published print journalist. She remains involved with many service members who continue to put their lives in harm’s way throughout the world. It’s because of that bond, Dill wrote her debut novel centered around the relationship of two sisters in uniform. She joined the Army National Guard at the age of 17 and received her degree in journalism and international studies at the University of Iowa. After her service, she was published by several weekly newspapers in Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois, with over 75,000 readers. She lives in Iowa City.


    July 2, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Coralville Center for the Performing Arts

    The Coralville Center for the Performing Arts and Central State Bank present Chris and Emily Norton, who will talk about their inspiring story and sign copies of their new book, The Seven Longest Yards: Our Story of Pushing the Limits While Leaning On Each Other. In a moment, Chris went from a talented 18-year-old Luther College football player with a promising future to flat on his back with a broken neck and a 3% chance of ever moving or feeling anything below his neck, much less walking again. The life Chris dreamt of – including his hope for finding love – was shattered. At least, so he thought. Determined to prove the doctors wrong and to find love, Chris pushed himself through grueling, daily workouts until four years later, Chris walked across the stage to receive his college diploma, with Emily's help and the world's astonished applause.

    Meanwhile, Emily faced her own challenges as she sunk into a deep battle against anxiety and depression. Despite a devoted fiancé, a fulfilling career working with youth, and a strong faith, she couldn't shake the mental darkness that clouded their promising future. Originally from Altoona and Muscatine, Chris and Emily Norton now live in Florida.