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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  • Book Matters Series presents Victor Ray in conversation with Ashley Howard

    November 29, 2022 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights - In Store

    The Office of the Vice President for Research presents Victor Ray for a special reading and reception as part of the Book Matters Series.  Ray will read from his new book, On Critical Race Theory, and be joined in conversation by UI assistant professor of History, Ashley Howard. On Critical Race Theory presents succinct, thoughtful essays that provide a concise and accessible framework for understanding and fighting racial injustice in the United States.
    “Regimes ban books when the books explain what is actually happening. Everyone who reads Victor Ray’s book will emerge understanding that this is exactly why critical race theory is being banned… Ray explains why we need critical race theory to understand the problems we face, and simultaneously reveals why it is such a target. The government doesn’t want you to have this knowledge. This book explains why.”—Jason Stanley
    Victor Ray is the F. Wendell Miller Associate Professor in the UI Departments of Sociology and Criminology and African American Studies.  In addition to this research, Victor is also an active public scholar, publishing commentary in outlets such as The Washington Post, Newsweek, and Boston Review.
    Ashley Howard is Assistant Professor in the UI Department of History. Dr. Howard's work has appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education, BBC World News Hour, Al Jazeera, Financial Times, Washington Post and NPR. Her "Then the Burnings Began" article is the winner of the 2018 James L. Sellers Memorial Prize.
    The Book Matters Series seeks to celebrate written works by faculty members that draw from a wide range of expertise at the University of Iowa — The Writing University. These events are an opportunity for campus and community to come together to discuss ideas, meet new colleagues, and celebrate the writing strengths of UI scholars.  A companion program for Creative Matters, Book Matters is hosted by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

    Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa-sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation to participate in this program, please contact Leslie Revaux in advance at 319-335-2131.

  • Mark Levine and Hajar Hussaini

    November 30, 2022 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights - In Store

    Mark Levine and Hajar Hussaini will read from their poetry.  Mark Levine will read from Sound Fury: Poems. Throughout Sound Fury, poems by metaphysician Robert Herrick are refashioned into phantasmagorical oddities of likeness and difference. "Whether lark as in songbird, or lark as in stunt, these skeptical, fabulous poems pluck pieces from Herrick and Pope like particulate matter from which the wonder of a poem inexplicably grows.”- Sally Keith

    Hajar Hussaini will read from Disbound. "Hussaini's Disbound begins with what has fallen apart amid war and migration, shaping its poetics into a powerful interrogation of what persists, what brings shame, what we refuse to look at, what's left behind, and what never comes back. What is most striking about this brilliant first book is how it develops a vocabulary and syntax of the many types of violences produced by the failures of conquest and empire. "--Daniel Borzutzky,
    Hajar Hussaini is an Afghan poet and literary translator. Her work has appeared in Poetry Magazine, Margins, and Pamenar Press. Hussaini lives in Iowa City.

    Mark Levine is the author of Capital, Debt, Enola Gay, The Wilds, and Travels of Marco. His poetry has appeared in anthologies including American Poets in the Twenty-First Century and American Hybrid. His is also the author of the nonfiction work, F5: Devastation, Survival, and the Most Violent Tornado Outbreak of the 20th Century.  Levine is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.  A professor of poetry at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Levine lives in Iowa City.


  • Drew Bratcher

    December 1, 2022 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Drew Bratcher in celebration of the release of his book Bub: Essays from Just North of Nashville (University of Iowa Press, 2022).

    Drew Bratcher was born in Nashville. He is a graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism and received his MFA from the University of Iowa. His essays and journalism have appeared in the Oxford American, Paris ReviewLos Angeles Review of Books, Nowhere Magazine, Essay Daily, Garden & Gun, Image Journal, World War II, Military History Quarterly, Washingtonian, and others. He lives in Chicagoland.      

    This reading is co-sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program Krause Series in Contemporary Nonfiction.

  • Fritz McDonald and Thomas C. Jackson

    December 7, 2022 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights - In Store

    Please join us with writer Fritz McDonald and artist Thomas C. Jackson, who will show images from  and talk about their incredible new graphic novel, 2184 ½.

    In 2184 ½ the Deconstructed States of America look like a cross between The Road Warrior and Catch-22. They are ruled over by The Ones, the passive-aggressive descendants of today’s one percent. Inspired by the radical nationalists of the 21st century, they have institutionalized autocracy. In a seemingly powerless country broken into Tribes fighting for scarce resources, a young female biker mechanic of mysterious origins seeks to unmask The One’s hypocrisy and start the revolution that will topple their gaudy and obscene empire.

    "2184 ½ is reminiscent of the great Italian cartoonist, filmaker and author Gipi, David Collier's autbiographical novel Chimo, Jessica Abel's Artbabe comic series, and and honestly, Art Spiegelman. The richness of the tone and the darkness of the line kept me marveling at the compositions and the poser of the mark. I salute the integrity of this artist and the partnership with the writer."- Victoria Grube

    Thomas C. Jackson studied art and received his M.F.A. from the University of Notre Dame. Jackson has exhibited his artwork in over 180 solo, invitational, and national and international juried exhibitions, judged by museum curators and gallery directors from California to New York, and in Israel (at Museum on the Seam in Jerusalem) and Mexico. Jackson explores the unusual side of Americana imagery in photography, painting, ink brush drawing, and his juxtaposed images reflect America’s channel-changing attention span and state of mind.

    Fritz McDonald (M.F.A., The University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop) taught for more than 20 years in the acclaimed Iowa Summer Writing Festival.  He has contributed essays to The Workshop: Seven Decades of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and to Now Write! Memoir, Journalism, and Creative Nonfiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers. His work has been published in Confrontation and The Nashville Review, and is forthcoming in Joyland. He is also the writer behind the PBS-UNC-TV documentary North Carolina.


  • Michelle Edwards

    December 11, 2022 - 2:00pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Michelle Edwards in celebration of the release of her book Me and the Boss: A Story About Mending and Love (Anne Schwartz Books, 2022). All the highs and lows of having a bossy, protective, and loving older sibling are depicted in this heartwarming picture book by a critically acclaimed author and award-winning illustrator.  Meet Lee, a little boy who won't give up until he learns how to sew, and Zora, the sister who watches him try--and ultimately succeed!
    Michelle Edwards holds an M.F.A. in Printmaking from the University of Iowa where she first explored stories and pictures in hand-bound editions of letterpress books. She is the author and illustrator of many award-winning books for children including A Hat for Mrs. Goldman, illustrated by G. Brian Karas. She is also the creator of an adult title, A Knitter's Home Companion. She chronicles her maker’s life on Most days you can find Michelle in her Iowa City studio, working with her pens, brushes, piles of paper, and notebooks filled with story ideas.

  • Aprille Clarke

    December 15, 2022 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights - In Store

    Local author Aprille Clarke will read from her debut novel about time travel, romance, family, and friendships: The Case of Elena and All That Went WrongA time-stopping office worker, a woman receiving a full body transplant, a visitor from the nineteenth century, and dead people preserved in ice trays all inhabit the weird, fantastic, and sometimes disturbing world of The Case of Elena and All That Went Wrong!
    Aprille Clarke's original fiction has appeared in Confrontation magazine and post-secondary textbooks for Heinle & Heinle/Thomson Learning. She has also written and produced many works of theater, music, and multimedia. Clarke holds a BA in Spanish from the University of Iowa and an MFA in Comparative Literature-Translation from the University of Iowa's Translation Workshop. She has worked as a translator, interpreter, teacher, instructional technology consultant, simulated patient, and volunteers with community organizations. She enjoys planning real and imaginary vacations; making music with the Family Folk Machine; documenting her family’s adventures through photos, text, and video; and finding humor in life’s daily humiliations. She lives in Iowa City with her spouse and children.