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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    April 23, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa author Heather Gudenkauf will read from her new novel, Before She Was Found. "Heather Gudenkauf has done it again. She manages to merge engaging characters and terrifying topics resulting in unputdownable suspense set in a small Iowa town. In Before She Was Found, Gudenkauf takes us into the lives of three young girlfriends as a sleepover turns into tragedy. Examining today's realities of social media and the added pressure our connected culture creates, Gudenkauf has crafted a gripping thriller." —Kaira Rouda, author of Best Day Ever

    Heather Gudenkauf is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Weight of Silence and Not a Sound. She lives in Dubuque with her family.


    April 24, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    UI assistant professor of History and African American studies Simon Balto will read from and talk about his new book from UNC Press, Occupied Territory: Policing Black Chicago from Red Summer to Black Power.  “Simon Balto's study of twentieth-century black Chicago provides new insights into the historical roots of police abuse in black communities while challenging scholarship that posits the mid-twentieth century as a turning point for deteriorating relationships between the police and black Americans. This beautifully written history is a model of clarity and moral passion.”—Beryl Satter, Rutgers University

    Balto’s writing has also appeared in TIME magazine, The Washington Post, The Progressive, the Journal of African American History, Labor, and numerous other popular and scholarly outlets. Professor Balto has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Mellon Foundation, among others.


    April 27, 2019 - 9:00am

    Prairie Lights

    Visit Prairie Lights on Independent Bookstore Day to support your local independent bookstore on Independent Bookstore Day!

  • MAXWELL KING at St. Andrew's Church

    April 27, 2019 - 6:30pm

    St. Andrew's Church, 140 Gathering Place Ln.

    St. Andrew's Church presents a free event at 140 Gathering Place Lane for The Good Neighbor author Maxwell King, who will be in conversation with Saleem Ghubril to discuss the inspiring work of Mr. Fred Rogers. Maxwell’s best-selling biography, The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers draws on original interviews, oral histories and archival documents, to trace the iconic children's program host's personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work. Saleem Ghubril, an Iowa City native, is the founder of the Pittsburgh Project and director of the Pittsburgh Promise. This enlightening and inspiring conversation is part of a weekend-long Fred Rogers Celebration at St Andrew's that begins on Thursday.

    For info: St. Andrew Presbyterian Church, 140 Gathering Place Lane, near the intersection of Melrose Avenue and Highway 218 in Iowa City. (6:30 - 8:30 p.m., childcare provided at the church)


    April 29, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    New York Times Notable Book author Louis Bayard will read from Courting Mr. Lincoln. “This glorious novel, big-hearted and clear-eyed, features the most uncanny incarnation of our sixteenth president since Daniel Day-Lewis strode onscreen in Lincoln. If you love Jane Austen, or Hamilton, or fiction–of any era–that transports and transforms in equal measure, look no further . . . as good as storytelling gets."—A.J. Finn

    Bayard has been shortlisted for both the Edgar and Dagger awards for his historical thrillers, which include The Pale Blue Eye and the bestselling Mr. Timothy, which was a Paul’s Book Club pick. His most recent novel was the critically acclaimed young-adult title Lucky Strikes. He lives in Washington, DC, and teaches at George Washington University.


    April 30, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Ed Pavlić will read from Another Kind of Madness. "Ed Pavlić's Another Kind of Madness is a full-bodied literary achievement bustling with sweat, regret, and sound. Pavlić's narrative audacity and descriptive skill make every sentence and scene in Another Kind of Madness equal parts sorrow song, blues, funk, and of course jazz . . . [A] new kind of novel that is as at once wholly innovative and in deep conversation with so many Black American literary traditions."―Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy

    Ed Pavlić is author of seven collections of poems and two critical books. His most recent works are Who Can Afford to Improvise?: James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric, and the Listener, and Let’s Let That Are Not Yet: Inferno. He lives in Athens, GA and teaches in the PhD Program in Creative Writing/English at the University of Georgia.


    May 1, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City poets Chad Abushanab and Kam Hilliard will read from their recent poetry collections.

    Chad Abushanab is the author of The Last Visitwinner of the 2018 Donald Justice Poetry Prize. Jericho Brown praised “the speaker’s search for self and struggles with drink after surviving a childhood laden with domestic violence… I really do believe in this book and find it extraordinary as an early twenty-first century debut. ” Abushanab’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Believer, Best New Poets, Ecotone, Southern Poetry Review, and 32 Poems, among others. He earned his PhD in literature and creative writing at Texas Tech University. He is an associate editor at Iron Horse Literary Review. 

    Writers’ Workshop student Kam Hilliard is the author of the chapbooks Perceived Distance from Impact and Distress Tolerance. Of their work, Ploughshares wrote: “Hilliard is preparing for their future—and preparing us to face ours—with their saints of the past and saints of the present leading the way.” Hilliard’s work has appeared in West Branch, Salt Hill, Entropy, and elsewhere. They currently serve as a poetry editor for Jellyfish Magazine, and are a member of the Big Lucks chapbook editorial squad. They studied at Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Hawaii at Manoa.


    May 2, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Leslie Carol Roberts will read from her new essay collection, Here is Where I Walk: Episodes From a Life in the Forest. “A series of absorbing, funny, tragic, and deeply present ruminations…Packed with a scientist’s curiosity and an artist’s imagination, she uses her walks the way Thoreau encouraged us to treat every journey into nature: as a lesson in how to accept, relish, and even seek out change.”—John D’Agata

    Leslie Carol Roberts is also the author of The Entire Earth and Sky: Views on Antarctica.  She is professor and chair of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts in San Francisco, California.


    May 3, 2019 - 5:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    The Department of Spanish & Portuguese proudly presents the Spanish Creative Writing MFA Graduation Reading. José Covo, Elisa Ferrer Molina, Inés Gallo de UriosteNatalia Hernández, Mariana Mazer and Angela Pico Pinto will share work from their theses. This event will be entirely in Spanish. Reception to follow in Prairie Lights Cafe. Please join us!


    May 4, 2019 - 5:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Each year, the University of Iowa’s Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing publishes a select group of winning submissions for the Iowa Chapbook Prize. The Iowa Chapbook Prize is dedicated to capturing emerging voices among undergraduates currently enrolled in colleges or universities in the state of Iowa. Submissions are read, chosen, edited, and designed by the University of Iowa's own undergraduate students enrolled in WRIT:3000 Publishing Practicum. During the prize's production period, student-editors seek original work in any literary genre that is adventurous in form and content, precise in its language usage, effective in its ability to illicit emotional and intellectual investment from readers, purposeful in its presentation of characters and narration, and inclusive of underrepresented/marginalized voices. Through their selections, the editors aim to share work that brings new voices to the ever-expanding landscape of contemporary literature. Free copies of the winning manuscripts will be available while supplies last. A reception will follow in the café at 6pm.