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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    August 18, 2018 - 11:00am

    Prairie Lights

    The Iowa Soul Festival presents authors Phil Jones, Dr. Deborah Whaley, and Dr. Richard Turner in a special panel discussion led by Dr.Venise Berry.

    Phil Jones is the author of the forthcoming book, Nothing Beats a Failure But a Try: A Memoir. Deborah Whaley is associate professor of American studies and African American studies at the UI and the author most recently of Black Women in Sequence: Re-inking Comics, Graphic Novels, and Anime. Richard Turner is a Professor of Religious Studies and African American Studies at the UI. He is most recently the author of Jazz Religion, the Second Line, and Black New Orleans.

    The moderator will be Venise Berry, Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the UI whose research is in the area of African American Cultural Criticism. In addition to the award-winning academic publishing she has done over recent years, she has also published several acclaimed novels.


    August 21, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Julie Schumacher will read from her new novel The Shakespeare Requirement. The eagerly awaited sequel to Dear Committee Members, The Shakespeare Requirement “satirizes the pitfalls of academia with searing wit, skewing everything from the abominable faculty offices to the eccentric personalities throughout the university. Beneath the comedy lies a tragic commentary on the state of higher education, when money counts for more than scholarship, and power is directly tied to fundraising ability… Desperately funny.” —Booklist

    Schumacher’s novel, Dear Committee Members, won the Thurber Prize for American Humor. She lives in St. Paul, Minnesota.


    August 23, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Rebecca Makkai will read from her new novel The Great Believers. “At turns heartbreaking and hopeful, the novel brings the first years of the AIDS epidemic into very immediate view, in a manner that will seem nostalgic to some and revelatory to others…Makkai's sweeping fourth novel shows the compassion of chosen families and the tension and distance that can exist in our birth ones.”—Library Journal

    Rebecca Makkaiis the author of The BorrowerThe Hundred-Year House, and Music for Wartime. Her work has appeared in The Best American Short StoriesHarper's, and Tin House, among others. A former instructor for the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she lives outside Chicago with her husband and two daughters. This event is co-sponsored by The Rumpus and will be moderated by Lyz Lenz.


    August 30, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Robin Green will read from her new memoir, The Only Girl: My Life and Times on the Masthead of the Rolling StoneIn the seventies, Green was at Rolling Stone as Hunter S. Thompson crafted Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and now, with a distinctly gonzo female voice, she reveals her side of that tumultuous time in America. Brutally honest and bold, Green pulls back the curtain on the iconic magazine that defined a generation, and the boys’ club that surrounded it. 

    Robin Green is an award-winning TV writer/producer known for her work as an Executive Producer and writer for The Sopranos on HBO. She is an alumna of Brown University and lives in New York City. 


    August 31, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Mitchell L. H. Douglas and Heather Derr-Smith will read from their poetry.

    Mitchell L.H. Douglas will read from his recent collection, dying in the scarecrow’s arms. “ Douglas depicts the assault on people of color in America’s increasingly divided Heartland. A devotee of American popular culture, from rock ’n’ roll to Star Wars to Marvel comic books, Douglas is a poet of “scrutinizing intellect, imagination, and soul.” — Terrance Hayes

    Mitchell L. H. Douglas is also the author of  \blak\ \al-fə bet\, winner of the Persea Books Lexi Rudnitsky/Editor's Choice Award, and Cooling Board: A Long-Playing Poem, an NAACP Image Award and Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominee. He is a cofounder of the Affrilachian Poets, a Cave Canem graduate, and Associate Professor of English at IUPUI.

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Heather Derr-Smith will read from her poetry collection Thrustwhich revisits a backwoods Virginia girlhood marred by sexual violence. “In a world shaped by violence, by the casual male assumption of authority, and part of ‘a family of seekers, pick ax and lust,’ she's a girl pursuing the intensity of experience on her own terms” —Library Journal, starred review

    Heather Derr-Smith is the author of the poetry collections Each End of the WorldThe Bride Minaret, and Tongue Screw. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa.


    September 5, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Stephen Markley will read from his new novel Ohio. On one fateful summer night in 2013, four former classmates converge on the rust belt town where they grew up, each haunted by regrets, secrets, and lost loves. “[A] standout debut . . . Markley’s novel is alternately disturbing and gorgeous, providing a broad view of the anxieties of a post-9/11 Middle America and the complexities of the humans who navigate them.” —Publishers Weekly

    Stephen Markley is the author of the memoir Publish This BookThe Unbelievable True Story of How I Wrote, Sold, and Published This Very Book, and the travelogue Tales of Iceland. He lives in Los Angeles.


    September 6, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduates Alexia Arthurs and Ruth Joffre will read from their fiction debuts.

    Alexia Arthurs will read from How to Love A Jamaican. “In these kaleidoscopic stories of Jamaica and its diaspora we hear many voices at once: some cultivated, some simple, some wickedly funny, some deeply melancholic. All of them shine.”—Zadie Smith  Arthurs has been published in Granta, The Sewanee Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Vice, and The Paris Review, which awarded her the Plimpton Prize in 2017. She was born and raised in Jamaica and moved with her family to Brooklyn when she was twelve. She is teaching this Fall at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. 

    Ruth Joffre will read from her story collection Night Beast. These doomed love stories and twisted fairytales explore the lives of women and reveal monsters lurking in our daily lives. “Lyrical . . . [and] masterful . . . Perfect for fans of Kelly Link and of Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body and Other Parties, Joffre’s debut collection heralds the arrival of a new, exciting voice in fiction.”―Booklist  Joffre’s work has appeared in the Kenyon Review, Mid-American Review, Masters Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Nashville Review, and Prairie Schooner. She lives in Seattle, where she teaches at the Hugo House. 


    September 7, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Dana Bowman will read from her new recovery memoir How to be Perfect Like Mewhich is featured for the month of September on The Today Show’s website.  Dana Bowman can’t escape the lure of perfectionism, but when she experiences a short-lived relapse during the Christmas holiday, she has the startling realization that recovery is more than just giving up alcohol. A funny and revealing follow-up to her best-selling book Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery.

    Author of the popular, Bowman leads and presents workshops on both writing and addiction, with a special emphasis on being a woman in recovery and a parent. She lives in Kansas.                                                    

  • JACQUELINE WOODSON in conversation with Alexia Arthurs

    September 8, 2018 - 1:00pm

    The Englert Theater

    Ticketed Event

    Please join us for a special event at The Englert Theater, featuring Jacqueline Woodson in conversation with Alexia Arthurs. Woodson will be reading from and discussing her two new books for middle grade and young readers, Harbor Me and The Day You Begin, illustrated by Rafael López. Woodson and Arthur will discuss timely issues that affect childrens' lives and education, noting the power literature has to keep them hopeful in stressful times.

    Jacqueline Woodson is the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. She received the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and Children's Literature Legacy Award. Her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, won the National Book Award, as well as the Coretta Scott King Award, Newbery Honor Award, and NAACP Image Award. Her adult book, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist, and her many books for young readers include Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster, and the picture book Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children's Book Award. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.

    Alexia Arthurs is an Afro-Caribbean writer and the author of How to Love a Jamaican. Arthurs was born and raised in Jamaica and moved with her family to Brooklyn when she was twelve. A graduate of Hunter College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has been published in Granta, The Sewanee Review, Small Axe, Virginia Quarterly Review, Vice, and The Paris Review, which awarded her the Plimpton Prize in 2017. She is teaching in the Iowa Writers' Workshop this Fall.

    Purchase tickets at The Englert Theater Box Office, beginning August 8 at 12:30pm.


    September 10, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduates Abby Geni and Frances de Pontes Peebles will read from their new novels. Abby Geni will read from her novel, The Wildlands. "Geni's fascinat[ed] with the borders between human and animal… [and she] continues to create works of art with perfect voices that are simultaneously thrillers and meditations on nature. It is an incredible trick." —Kirkus Reviews  Abby Geni is the author of The Lightkeepers and The Last Animal. She lives in Chicago. 

    Frances de Pontes Peebles will read from her new novel The Air You Breathe. Born to wildly different worlds, Dores and Graça quickly bond over music. Traveling from Brazil's inland sugar plantations to the rowdy streets of Rio de Janeiro's famous Lapa neighborhood, and to Los Angeles during the Golden Age of Hollywood, The Air You Breathe is "a masterfully choreographed saga of friendship, envy, sacrifice and love--as soulful, layered, and intoxicating as the samba that reverberates from the page." —Georgia Hunter and “[A] glittering, mesmerizing triumph of a novel.” —Alexander Chee 

    Frances de Pontes Peebles is the author of The Seamstress, winner of the James Michener-Copernicus Society of America Fellowship. She was born in Pernambuco, Brazil.