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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  • Alec Ross in conversation with Bob Walker

    September 20, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Alec Ross to celebrate the release of The Raging 2020s: Companies, Countries, People - and the Fight for Our Future He will be joined in conversation by Bob Walker.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Adam Grant, #1 New York Times bestselling author of THINK AGAIN and host of the TED podcast WorkLife, says of the book, “Alec Ross fearlessly confronts one of the fundamental concerns of our time: fixing the broken social contract between people, business, and government. His book will challenge you to rethink some of your assumptions about democracy, capitalism, and globalization.”

    Alec Ross is one of the world’s leading experts oninnovation. Author of New York Times bestselling The Industries of theFuture, he is currently a distinguished visiting professor at the University of Bologna Business School and a board partner at Amplo, a global venture capital firm. He was a distinguished senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University and a senior fellow at the Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs. He served as Senior Advisor for Innovation to the Secretary of State to help modernize the practice of diplomacy and advance America’sforeign policy interests. He began his career as a sixth-grade teacher in Baltimore

    Bob Walker serves as Lecturer for Iowa JPEC and advisor for I-Envision, Enactus and Sigma Nu Tau. He has 25 years of experience in higher education as Associate Professor and Degree Coordinator with Kirkwood Community College, and Associate Professor and Department Chair Mount Mercy University. Bob has 17 years of experience in the banking industry, running his own consulting practice and involvement in small business startups. He and his wife co-authored the college textbook “Personal Finance: Building Your Future” with McGraw-Hill, which is in its second edition.

  • Mary Jo Bang in conversation with Timothy Donnelly

    September 21, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Mary Jo Bang to celebrate the release of PurgatorioShe will be joined in conversation by Timothy Donnelly.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Award-winning translator Susan Bernofsky says of the book, “After Mary Jo Bang’s brilliant time-traveling Inferno, I couldn’t wait for her Purgatorio, which turns out to be every bit as meaty, luscious, erudite, straight-talking, and joyful as I had hoped. Bang has an uncanny sense of how to slip inside and between Dante’s lines, guiding us along his most perilous paths.

    Mary Jo Bang: has published eight poetry collections, including A Doll for Throwing and Elegy, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award, and new translations of Dante’s Inferno and Purgatorio. She teaches at Washington University in Saint Louis.

    Timothy Donnelly  is the author of The Problem of the ManyThe Cloud Corporation , which won the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, and Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit . His chapbook Hymn to Life was recently published by Factory Hollow Press and with John Ashbery and Geoffrey G. O’Brien he is the co-author of Three Poets published by Minus A Press in 2012. He is a recipient of The Paris Review’s Bernard F. Conners Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award as well as fellowships from the New York State Writers Institute and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is Director of Poetry in the Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and lives in Brooklyn with his family.

  • Alix Ohlin in conversation with Dean Bakopoulos: Writers @ Grinnell

    September 28, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Join acclaimed author Alix Ohlin and Writers @ Grinnell director Dean Bakopoulos for a discussion of Ohlin's new story collection, We Want What We Wantfeaturing  thirteen glittering, surprising, darkly funny stories of people testing the boundaries of their lives. An Esquire Best Book of Summer. “A pleasure to behold…a wry and moving collection” ( Kirkus) that “reveals the depth of her characters with empathy and precision” ( Publishers Weekly), “surprising and subversive” ( NOW Magazine), “slyly humorous and devastatingly sensuous” ( Oprah Daily) “riveting” ( Booklist). More at

    For the link to access the event, register here.

    Alix Ohlin’s novel Dual Citizenslike her novel Inside, was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. Her work has appeared in The New YorkerBest American Short Stories, and many other places.  She lives in Vancouver and directs the School of Creative Writing at the University of British Columbia.


  • Ash Davidson in conversation with Madhuri Vijay

    September 30, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Ash Davidson to celebrate the release of Damnation SpringShe will be joined in conversation by Madhuri Vijay.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Publisher's Weekly says of Damnation Spring, "Davidson’s impressive debut chronicles life in a working-class community so thoroughly that the reader feels the characters’ anguish as they’re divided over environmental concerns that threaten their lives and livelihoods....The depiction of ordinary people trapped by circumstances beyond their control makes for a heart-wrenching modern American tragedy."

    Ash Davidson was born in Arcata, California, and attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her work has been supported by the Arizona Commission on the Arts and MacDowell. She lives in Flagstaff, Arizona.

    Madhuri Vijay was born and raised in Bangalore. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, and her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Best American Short Stories, Best American Non-Required Reading, and Narrative Magazine.

  • Carl Klaus: The Ninth Decade: An Octogenarian’s Chronicle

    October 1, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading from Carl Klaus to celebrate his new book The Ninth Decade: An Octogenarian’s Chronicle.

    Robert Atwin, editor of The Best American Essays, calls the book “an intimate yet hands-on lesson on how to face the inevitable infirmities and losses of our eighties with grace, resilience, and composure. In place of the usual stoical bromides, these contemplative journals offer a different, more constructive message: the key to a satisfying old age may be simply a matter of learning to maintain the enthusiasms that have long sustained us. The Ninth Decade is a major contribution to the growing literature of aging.”

    Carl H. Klaus is founder of the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program and Professor Emeritus at Iowa. Klaus’s literary nonfiction includes My Vegetable Love: A Journal of a Growing Season (Iowa, 2000), Taking Retirement: A Beginner’s Diary, and Letters to Kate: Life after Life (Iowa, 2006). He lives in Iowa City, Iowa.

  • Wyatt Williams in conversation with Cathryn Klusmeier

    October 5, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Wyatt Williams to celebrate the release of Springer Mountain: Meditations on Killing and EatingHe will be joined in conversation by Cathryn Klusmeier

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Library Journal says of the book, "Similar to Michael Pollen’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, this engaging narrative will catch readers’ attention and lead them to take a deeper look at the where, how, and why behind the food they consume...Using his extensive research and firsthand visits to farms and slaughterhouses, Williams creates a narrative of the culture, history, and societal views of meat, from factory farming to game hunting. Along the way, he offers personal insight from his years as a restaurant critic and food writer. In addition to foodies and historians, this book will appeal to readers wanting a better understanding of cultures and societies surrounding food."

    Wyatt Williams is a former restaurant critic. His essays have been published by The New York Times MagazineOxford AmericanThe Believer, and The Paris Review. In 2018, his essay “After Oranges” was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award and anthologized in The Best American Food Writing series.


  • Antonio de Jesús López in conversation with Brenda Hillman

    October 6, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Antonio de Jesús López  to celebrate the release of Gentefictation He will be joined in conversation by Brenda Hillman.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    Gregory Paldo, winner of the Pulitzer Prize in poetry says of the book, “In his debut poetry collection, Gentefication, Antonio de Jesús Lopéz adorns novelty with innovation by rendering the reader—in addition to the objective world—in surprising new ways. As if they were exorcising our demons or, less ominously, assigning us roles that break from the typecast routines of our daily lives, these poems call to the surface aspects of ourselves that we are rarely asked to engage. Poems tender and ironic, earnest and outraged display a mind abundant with knowledge yet desperate for answers. While so much American poetry asks of the reader only their passive attention, these poems work like personal trainers. They call for the kind of mental and spiritual absorption that can make prayer feel productive.”

    Antonio López is a poetician working at the intersection of poetry, politics and social change. He has received literary scholarships to attend the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, Tin House, the Vermont Studio Center, and Bread Loaf. He is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop and a CantoMundo Fellow. He holds degrees from Duke University, Rutgers-Newark, and the University of Oxford. He is pursuing a PhD in Modern Thought and Literature at Stanford University. His debut poetry collection, Gentefication, was selected by Gregory Pardlo as the winner of the 2019 Levis Prize in Poetry. He is a district representative for California State Senator Josh Becker. Antonio is currently fighting gentrification in his hometown as the newest and youngest councilmember for the City of East Palo Alto.

    Brenda Hillman is an activist, writer, and teacher. She has published nine collections of poetry, all from Wesleyan University Press, including Practical Water, for which she won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry. Hillman serves on the faculty of Saint Mary's College in Moraga, California, as the Olivia Filippi Professor of Poetry.

  • Colleen Kinder LETTER TO A STRANGER Author Readings

    October 7, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for readings from Colleen Kinder's new essay collection Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us featuring essays from authors all over the world including:

    Kiki Petrosino, Erica Cavanaugh, Cutter Wood, Lucas Mann, Lia Purpura and Faith Adiele.

    You can register for this virtual event here.

    LETTER TO A STRANGER  first came about when journalist, essayist, and world-traveler Colleen Kinder challenged her peers to “write a letter to a stranger who haunts you.” In doing so, she evoked a universal experience that inspired writers and explorers around the world.  LETTER TO A STRANGER is a collection of these poignant missives to the nameless, authored by a diverse cast of writers and set all over the globe. The 65 essays in this collection carry readers  from a train in Berlin to a rickshaw in Mandalay, from a Grand Canyon hiking trail to the Rwandan border, and remind us how a stranger’s loaded glance, shared smile, or even just a question posed can change everything.

    Colleen Kinder  is an essayist and editor whose work has appeared in  The New York Times Magazine,  The New Republic,  National Geographic Traveler,, and The Best American Travel Writing. She has taught writing at Yale University, the Chautauqua Institution, and Semester at Sea. A Fulbright Scholar, Kinder is the author of Delaying the Real World and the cofounder of the online magazine Off Assignment.

  • The Writer's Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and the Many Lives of Slaughterhouse-Five

    October 12, 2021 - 6:00pm

    Virtual Zoom

    Join the Kurt Vonnegut Museum & Library on Tuesday, October 12 at 6pm Central Time/ 7pm Eastern Time) for a talk about the legendary Kurt Vonnegut, as author Tom Roston presents his new book, The Writer's Crusade: Kurt Vonnegut and the Many Lives of Slaughterhouse-Five.

    Roston will discuss The Writer's Crusade, and the role of trauma in war writing, with Iraq war veteran and novelist Matt Gallagher and author, teacher and one-time student of Vonnegut's at the Iowa Writers Workshop, Suzanne McConnell.

    You can get tickets for this virtual event here. 

    Tom Roston has worked as a journalist with The Nation and Vanity Fair, and was a senior editor at Premiere for more than a decade. His work has appeared in the New York TimesNew York magazine, LitHub, and more. He is the author of two previous books, I Lost It at the Video Store: A Filmmaker's Oral History of a Vanished Era and The Most Spectacular Restaurant in the World. He lives in Brooklyn.

    Matt Gallagher is an Iraq war veteran and author of the novels Empire City, and Youngblood, as well as Kaboom: Embracing the Suck in a Savage Little War. He holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia and has written for The New York TimesThe AtlanticEsquire, and The Paris Review. For many years, he taught NYU's Words After War writing workshop. He lives with his wife and son in Brooklyn. 

    Suzanne McConnell co-authored Vonnegut's book on craft, Pity the Writer, and is fiction editor of the Bellevue Literary Review.  McConnell was a student of Vonnegut’s at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop from 1965 to 1967, when Vonnegut was finishing his masterpiece, Slaughterhouse-Five. Vonnegut and McConnell became friends, and stayed so for the rest of his life. She has published short memoirs of him in the Brooklyn Railand the Writer’s Digest, and led a panel at the 2014 AWP conference titled “Vonnegut’s Legacy: Writing About War and Other Debacles of the Human Condition.” McConnell taught writing at Hunter College for thirty years.  She lives in New York City and Wellfleet, Massachusetts, with her husband, the artist Gary Kuehn.

  • Geoffrey Hilsabeck in conversation with Suzanne Buffam

    October 13, 2021 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Geoffrey Hilsabeck to celebrate the release of American VaudevilleHe will be joined in conversation by Suzanne Buffam.

    To join this virtual event, register here.

    M. Alison Kibler, the author of Censoring Racial Ridicule, says of the book, “Hilsabeck recounts the often bizarre details of vaudeville, the most popular live entertainment in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century, and, more importantly, he evokes the feeling of this eclectic, rapid-fire amusement.”

    Geoffrey Hilsabeck is the author of the poetry collection Riddles, Etc. His poems and essays have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, the BelieverParis Review Daily, Tupelo Quarterly, and elsewhere. He lives in Pittsburgh.

    Suzanne Buffam was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. She's the author of three collections of poetry, A Pillow Book (Canarium Books 2016), The Irrationalist (Canarium Books, 2010; second edition, 2020), which was shortlisted for the 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize, and Past Imperfect (House of Anansi Press, 2005), which won the Gerald Lampert Award. Her poems have also been published in Poetry, jubilat, A Public Space, Denver Quarterly, Colorado Review, Prairie Schooner, and many other journals. She lives in Chicago.