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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  • Gregory Brown in conversation with Mark Mayer

    March 8, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading with Iowa Writers' Workshop gradaute Gregory Brown to celebrate the release of his debut novel, The Lowering Days and a conversation with Mark Mayer, author of Aerialists.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls and Chances Are... says of the novel, ​“In The Lowering Days, Gregory Brown gives us a lush, almost mythic portrait of a very specific place and time that feels all the more universal for its singularity. There’s magic here.” Publisher's Weekly says "Brown’s dynamic debut shines a light on a small town’s fraught history in Maine’s Penobscot River valley... Brown poetically depicts the bucolic backdrop and grounds the action amid forested hillsides 'deep and green and smoky with the scent of pine.' Lyrical and gorgeously written, Brown’s memorable outing does justice to a complicated web of issues."

    Gregory Brown grew up along Penobscot Bay. His stories have appeared in Tin House, The Alaska Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Epoch, and Narrative Magazine. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference. He lives in Maine with his family. The Lowering Days is his first novel. 

    Mark Mayer's short story collection, Aerialists, won the Michener-Copernicus Prize and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing. He has been published in American Short FictionThe Kenyon Review, Guernica, The Iowa Review, The Colorado Review, and The New York Times among others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Mark has taught creative writing as the R.P. Dana Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Cornell College and as a Faculty Fellow in Creative Writing at Colby College. He teaches in the MFA program.

  • Loren Glass in conversation with Ann Powers

    March 12, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us to celebrate the release of Tapestry with author and University of Iowa professor Loren Glass, in conversation with NPR Music Critic and Correspondent, Ann Powers

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Carole King's Tapestry is both an anthemic embodiment of second-wave feminism and an apotheosis of the Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter sound and scene. And these two elements of the album's historic significance are closely related insofar as the professional autonomy of the singer-songwriter is an expression of the freedom and independence women of King's generation sought as the turbulent sixties came to a close. Aligning King's own development from girl to woman with the larger shift in the music industry from teen-oriented singles by girl groups to albums by adult-oriented singer-songwriters, this volume situates Tapestry both within King's original vision as the third in a trilogy (preceded by Now That Everything's Been Said and Writer) and as a watershed in musical and cultural history, challenging the male dominance of the music and entertainment industries and laying the groundwork for female dominated genres such as women's music and Riot Grrrl punk.

    Loren Glass is Professor of English at the University of Iowa,  with a joint appointment in the Center for the Book. He is the author of Authors Inc.: Literary Celebrity in the Modern United States, and Rebel Publisher: Grove Press and the Revolution of the Word, and co-editor of the Post45 series.

    Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programsOne of the nation's most notable music critics, Powers has been writing for The Record, NPR's blog about finding, making, buying, sharing and talking about music, since April 2011.

  • Kevin Brockmeier in conversation with Anjali Sachdeva

    March 15, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us to celebrate the release of Kevin Brockmeier's new collection of stories, The Ghost Variations for a reading and conversation with Anjali Sachdeva.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Kelly Link, author of Get in Trouble, calls the book: “A teeming throng of stories in miniature in my favorite mode by one of my favorite writers. Brockmeier’s ghosts range from the wistful to the terrifying—I could only wish that there were one hundred more.” Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties says,“The Ghost Variations is pure Kevin Brockmeier—lush and playful and devastating and brilliant; a haunted hotel with a hundred rooms and a hundred doors, behind which lie a hundred perfect and terrifying dioramas. It’s been ages since I’ve been this profoundly sated by a story collection, and I loved every minute of it.”

    Kevin Brockmeier is the author of the memoir A Few Seconds of Radiant Filmstrip; the novels The Illumination, The Brief History of the Dead, and The Truth About Celia; the story collections The Ghost Variations, Things That Fall from the Sky and The View from the Seventh Layer; and the children’s novels City of Names and Grooves: A Kind of Mystery. His work has been translated into seventeen languages. He teaches frequently at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and lives in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was raised.

    Anjali Sachdeva’s short story collection,  All the Names They Used for God, was the winner of the 2019 Chautauqua Prize and was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR. Her fiction has been published in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, McSweeney's Quarterly, and Lightspeed, among others. Sachdeva is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and in the low-residency MFA program at Randolph College. She spent much of her childhood reading fantasy novels and waiting to be whisked away to an alternate universe. Instead, she lives in Pittsburgh, which is pretty wonderful as far as places in this universe go.

  • Adrienne Raphel in conversation with Micah Bateman

    March 16, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us to celebrate the paperback release of Adrienne Rephel's book, Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without ThemAdrienne Raphel will be joined by fellow Iowa Writers' Workshop alum, Micah Bateman.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    The New York Times Book Review, Editors’ Choice, says of the book, “This cultural and personal history of crosswords and their fans, written by an aficionado, is diverting, informative, and discursive.” Mary Norris, bestselling author of Between You & Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, says: "For crossword puzzlers of every ilk, from solvers of the Monday-edition no-brainer to pencil-chewing addicts of the cryptic, Thinking Inside The Box is a gold mine of revelations. If there is a pantheon of cruciverbalist scholars, Adrienne Raphel has established herself squarely within it.”

    Adrienne Raphel is the author of Thinking Inside the Box: Adventures with Crosswords and the Puzzling People Who Can't Live Without Them (Penguin Press, 2020), and What Was It For (Rescue Press, 2017). Her essays, poetry, and criticism appear in The New Yorker, Poetry, The New Republic, The Atlantic, Paris Review Daily, Slate, and other publications. Born in New Jersey and raised in Vermont, Raphel holds a PhD in English from  Harvard  University, an MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and an AB from Princeton University. She is currently a Lecturer in the Princeton Writing Program.

    Micah Bateman teaches, writes, and presents on poetry, digital media, libraries, and creative writing out of the University of Iowa's School of Library and Information Science. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop; co-author of Mapping the Imaginary: Supporting Creative Writers through Programming, Prompts, and Research (ALA Editions: 2019); and author of a chapbook of poems, Polis (Catenary Press: 2015).  Other work has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books Blog, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review Online, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency.

  • Matthew Gavin Frank

    March 19, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us with the Nonfiction Writing Program to welcome Matthew Gavin Frank to read from his latest book, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers, as part of The Krause Series of Contemporary Nonfiction.  He will be introduced by current NWP student Jonathan Gleason.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil says of Flight of the Diamond Smugglers, “Unforgettable. . . . An outstanding adventure in its lyrical, utterly compelling, and heartbreaking investigations of the world of diamond smuggling.” Kirkus Reviews says, "[T]he author creates an intriguing and unusual blend of genres. Here he mixes natural history with anthropology and a twist of true crime in a tale of small-scale theft."

    Matthew Gavin Frank’s next nonfiction book, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers (about, among other things, the ways in which carrier pigeons were used by diamond smuggling rings in coastal South Africa) is forthcoming from W.W. Norton: Liveright in February 2021. He is also the author of the nonfiction books, The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food (Liveright), Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer (Liveright), Pot Farm (The University of Nebraska Press), and Barolo (The University of Nebraska Press); the poetry books, The Morrow Plots (Black Lawrence Press), Warranty in Zulu (Barrow Street Press), and Sagittarius Agitprop (Black Lawrence Press).


  • Jo Ann Beard & Melissa Febos

    March 26, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a virtual event to celebrate the release of Festival Days by Jo Ann Beard and Girlhood by  Melissa Febos, with a reading and conversation between the two authors.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Publishers Weekly (starred review) calls Festival Days, “Imaginative and precise… These sharp essays cement Beard’s reputation as a master of the form… [she] can evoke many emotions in a single stroke." 

    Carmen Maria Machado, author of Her Body and Other Parties and In the Dreamhouse, says of Girlhood,  “In this book, Febos proves herself to be one of the great documenters of the terrible and exquisite depths of girlhood. Here, that terrible and beautiful aeon is dissected, sung over, explored like ancient ruins. These essays are moss and iron—hard and beautiful—and struck through with Febos’ signature brilliance and power and grace. An essential, heartbreaking project."

    Jo Ann Beard is the author of the groundbreaking collection of autobiographical essays, The Boys of My Youth, and the novel, In Zanesville. Her work has appeared in The New YorkerTin HouseBest American Essays, and other magazines and anthologies. She has received a Whiting Foundation Award and nonfiction fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She teaches writing at Sarah Lawrence College.

    Melissa Febos is the author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me, a Lambda Literary Award finalist and Publishing Triangle Award finalist. Her essays have appeared in Tin House, The Believer, The New York Times, and elsewhere. Febos is the inaugural winner of the Jeanne Córdova Prize for Lesbian/Queer Nonfiction from Lambda Literary and the recipient of fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, The BAU Institute, The Barbara Deming Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and others. She is an associate professor at The University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program.

  • Esther Newton in conversation with Ellen Lewin

    April 7, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Pioneering anthropologist and founder of LGBTQ studies, Esther Newton reads from her latest book, My Butch Career: A Memoir, published by Duke University Press in 2018. As Cassandra Langer wrote in the Gay and Lesbian Review, “My Butch Career joins a distinguished list of lesbian herstories that includes Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues and Lillian Faderman’s Naked in the Promised Land.  It is for readers interested in the psychological and cultural challenges for an individual who identifies as a butch lesbian, as well as readers who are interested in lesbian Herstory within the greater context of the gay rights movement." Following the reading, Ellen Lewin, Professor Emerita of Anthropology and Gender, Women’s, and Sexuality Studies at the University of Iowa, will lead a Q&A. Professor Lewin is a feminist anthropologist who has worked on issues of LGBT families throughout her career and more recently on a coalition of predominantly black LGBT Pentecostal churches.  

    The University of Iowa is hosting Esther Newton as part of a Joint Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorship with her partner, the international renowned performance artist, Holly Hughes. Held virtually this year because of the pandemic, the visit is sponsored by the Office of the Provost; the Departments of American Studies, Anthropology, Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, and Theatre Arts; and the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies.  

    Esther Newton is a founder of and leading scholar in LGBTQ studies.  She has taught at Purchase College of the State University of New York, the University of Paris VII, Paris, France and the University of Michigan (Ann Arbor).  She was active in Second Wave Feminism, Gay Liberation and the Lesbian/Feminist movements. Her work has been translated into French, Spanish, Hebrew, Polish and Slovak.

    She will be joined in conversation by Ellen Lewin, a cultural anthropologist who is a Professor Emeritus in the departments of Gender, Women’s & Sexuality Studies and Anthropology at The University of Iowa. She is the author of Recognizing OurselvesCeremonies of Lesbian and Gay Commitment and Gay FatherhoodNarratives of Family and Citizenship in America.

    Related event: “Indelible: Christine Blasey Ford as Performance Artist , ” Public Lecture/Performance by Holly Hughes, followed by Q&A, Thursday, April 8, 5:00-7:00 Central time.