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 hereSince live in store events are currenly on hiatus, there are no live audio streams at this time. They will resume when live in store events do.

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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  • Spanish MFA Reading

    May 17, 2021 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual Event

    May 17th 3pm Spanish Creative Writing Graduation Reading

    To register, click here --

    Second-year students from the MFA in Spanish Creative Writing will share a selection of creative work they did during their time in Iowa. This event celebrates the experience of studying the MFA and writing in Iowa City. Students Christian De León, Juan Díaz Ortiz, Leticia Fernández-Fontecha and Yamila Transtenvot will be presented by fellow MFA students or alumni and then will read excerpts from their creative work in Spanish. An English version of these excerpts will be read subsequently.  


  • Black Lives Matter at School: Iowa Edition

    May 19, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Black Lives Matter At School - Virtual

    Please Join Black Lives Matter at School activists and educators for a conversation about the new uprising for educational justice in Iowa, sponsored by Black Lives Matter at School-IowaPrairie Lights Bookstore,  and Haymarket Books.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Education activists Lisa Covington, Jesse Hagopian, Denisha Jones, Lucket Kiche, and Matè Muhammad, in conversation about Black Lives Matter at School: An Uprising for Educational Justice, and the struggle against systemic racism in schools, how we can win real educational justice and other lessons from Black Lives Matter at School organizing in Iowa and beyond.

    Matè Muhammad is an activist, organizer and cultural worker from Des Moines, IA. Matè is a passionate writer, graffiti artist and musician and began his activism in 2014 after the tragic police murder of Michael Brown. In 2019 Matè created @theblackartivist - a revolutionary creative vehicle - and in 2020 Matè co-founded the Des Moines Black Liberation Movement of which he is currently the Field Operations Director.

    Lucket Kiche (He/They) is a Black, Queer, Non-Binary Transman teaching in the Iowa City Community School District. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, he came to Iowa City as an infant and has yet to leave. He spends time serving as an At-Large Board member for Iowa City Pride. As an educator, Lucket pushes and advocates for the equitable treatment of all minorities and strives to teach about as many intersectionalities that time will allow. They also continue to remind others that we can no longer be complacent with a system that has superficial protections for marginalized people.

    Denisha Jones is a member of the national Black Lives Matter at School steering committee and Director of the Art of Teaching, graduate teacher education program, at Sarah Lawrence College. She is the co-editor of Black Lives Matter at School.

    Jesse Hagopian is a member of the national Black Lives Matter at School steering committee and teaches Ethnic Studies at Seattle’s Garfield High School. He is the co-editor of Black Lives Matter at Schoolan editor for Rethinking Schools magazine and is a co-editor of Teaching for Black Lives.

    Lisa Covington, M.A. is a youth development professional, curriculum developer and PhD Candidate at The University of Iowa studying Sociology of Education, Digital Humanities and African American Studies. In 2020, Lisa received the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Award from the Iowa Department of Human Rights. As the Director of the Ethnic Studies Leadership Academy in Iowa City, Lisa works with Sankofa Outreach Connection to provide an educational leadership program for African American girls to learn Black history and advocacy strategies through developing competencies in digital humanities, social sciences and the arts. Lisa also works with teachers across the state through Black Lives Matter at School-Iowa.


  • Larissa Pham in conversation with Jenny Zhang

    May 21, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual Event

    Larissa Pham will read from and talk about her glorious new memoir, Pop Song: Adventures in Art and Intimacy.  She will be joined in conversation by Jenny Zhang. 

    To attend, register here.

    Already hailed as A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of the Year, and One of The Millions’ Most Anticipated Books of the Year (among other lists!),"Pham reinvents the memoir in a stirring debut that explores the power of language, art, and love . . . This is a masterpiece." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    Pop Song is a book about distances, near and far. The miles we travel to get away from ourselves, or those who hurt us, and the impossible gaps that can exist between two people sharing a bed. Plumbing the well of culture for clues and patterns about love and loss—from Agnes Martin’s abstract paintings to James Turrell’s transcendent light works, and Anne Carson’s Eros the Bittersweet to Frank Ocean’s Blonde—Pham writes of her youthful attempts to find meaning in travel, sex, drugs, and art before sensing that she might need to turn her gaze upon herself.

    Larissa Pham is an artist and writer in Brooklyn. Born in Portland, Oregon, she studied painting and art history at Yale University. She has written essays and criticism for the Paris Review DailyThe NationArt in AmericaGuernica, and elsewhere. She was an inaugural Yi Dae Up fellowship recipient from the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. She is also the author of Fantasian, a novella.


    Jenny Zhang's debut short story collection Sour Heart, published by Lenny/Random House in 2017, has received both the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and the L.A. Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. In addition to her fiction and poetry, Zhang’s essays have been published by The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, Rookie, and BuzzFeed. Her newest book is a poetry collection, My Baby First Birthday, published in 2020 by Tin House Books.



  • Dr. Norman E. Rosenthal Poetry Rx: How 50 Inspiring Poems Can Heal and Bring Joy To Your Life

    May 25, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual Event

    The David Lynch Foundation and Prairie Lights Bookstore cordially invite you to POETRY RX: How Poetry Can Heal and Bring Joy to Your Life, featuring world-renowned psychiatrist, Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., Prairie Lights Bookstore owner and published poet Jan Weissmiller, along with moderator Bob Roth, CEO of The David Lynch Foundation. To attend this virtual event, register here.

    Imagine your therapist writing a prescription for “Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson or a Shakespeare sonnet or “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas—before prescribing an anxiety medication…
    Dr. Norman Rosenthal is that therapist! World-renowned for his pioneering NIH research on seasonal affective disorder (SAD), Dr. Rosenthal’s new book, Poetry Rx, delivers potent medicine—without side effects. “As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the world has closed down in many ways, depriving us of joy, companionship, love and adventure,” says Dr. Rosenthal. “Against this backdrop of loss and hardship, we are seeking novel remedies, and poetry is a surprisingly powerful remedy, not just for the moment but for our entire life. Poetry can serve both as a balm and a vaccine for the soul.”

    “Dr. Rosenthal, a renowned psychiatric researcher and clinician, has given us a gift with Poetry Rx. He takes us on a journey through the varieties of human experience and shows us specifically how poetry has the power to help us understand ourselves and to heal. The wonderful effect of Rosenthal’s humanity and lucid analysis is to make us feel that our own experiences are universal and that we are not alone.” —Richard A. Friedman, M.D., Professor of Clinical Psychiatry, Director of Psychopharmacology Clinic, Weill Cornell Medical College  

    Norman E. Rosenthal, M.D., is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical School and was the psychiatrist who first described SAD and pioneered the use of light in its treatment during his 20 years at the National Institute of Mental Health. He has researched other innovative psychiatric treatments and is also the author of several books including the New York Times bestseller Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation and Super Mind.  He currently maintains a private clinical and coaching practice in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C.  He will donate 100% of his portion of proceeds of sales of the book to the David Lynch Foundation’s Resilient Warrior Program to help reduce the epidemic of suicides among U.S. military veterans.

    He will be joined in conversation by Prairie Lights Bookstore owner, Jan Weissmiller.  Weissmiller was Prairie Lights Books’ first full-time employee after it opened in 1978. She and fellow poet, Jane Mead, bought the store in 2008, and she has been the sole owner since Jane’s untimely death in 2019.   She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1984 and was awarded the Loess Hills Poetry Award for her collection, In Divided Light (Mid-Prairie Books), in 1999. She occasionally teaches at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival and has reviewed poetry for the Boston Review.  Bob Roth is CEO of the David Lynch Foundation.


  • Chuy Renteria: An NEA Big Read Event

    May 27, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us, with the Center for Worker Justice of Eastern Iowa for a virtual reading and discssion with Chuy Renteria of his forthcoming book, We Heard it When We Were Young, from University of Iowa Press about Latinx immigrant experiences of himself and others in West Liberty, Iowa.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    The discussion is part of the NEA Big Read Program which broadens our understanfing of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the jou of sharing a good book. Showcasing a diverse range of themes, voices, and perspectives, the NEA Big Read aims to inspire conversation about discovery.

    Jennifer Colville, author, Elegies for Uncanny Girls, says of the book, “Chuy Renteria writes what no one else can. He writes as a b-boy, a first-generation Mexican American, a small-town Iowan, a friend, a son, and a brother. The result is part bildungsroman and part unique socio-cultural exploration. His writing is fascinating, moving, and full of kinetic style.”

    Chuy Renteria, a b-boy since the age of fourteen, is a central figure in the Iowa dance scene, and is also the public engagement coordinator for Hancher Auditorium. Renteria’s stories have been published in We the Interwoven. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.