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.

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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  • Patricia Foster in conversation with Darius Stewart

    September 28, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Patricia Foster will read from her new collection of essays, Written in the Sky: Lessons of a Southern Daughter.  She will be joined in conversation by author Darius Stewart. In Written in the Sky, Patricia Foster presents a double portrait of place and family, a book of deeply personal essays that interrogate the legacy of racial tensions in the South, the constriction of caste and gender, and the ways race, class, and white privilege are entwined in her family story. After interviewing girls at Booker T. Washington High School in Tuskegee, Alabama, visiting the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, and exploring Africatown in Plateau, Alabama, Patricia Foster was moved to reflect on the racial scars and crossroads in her southern past as well as to reckon with the intimate places of her own wounding and grief.

    Patricia Foster is professor emerita at the University of Iowa’s MFA Program in Nonfiction, where she taught for twenty-five years. She is author of numerous books, including Girl from Soldier Creek, Just Beneath My Skin, and All the Lost Girls: Confessions of a Southern Daughter.

    Darius Stewart is the author of the poetry collection Intimacies in Borrowed Light and the forthcoming memoir, Be Not Afraid of My Body.  A graduate of the Iowa Nonfiction Writing program, he currently teaches at the University of Iowa.

  • Roger Reeves

    September 29, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Award-winning poet Roger Reeves will read from his quintessential essay collection published by Graywolf Press, Dark Days.  In Dark Days, Reeves finds new meaning in silence, protest, fugitivity, freedom, and ecstasy. “Dark Days is a testament to Roger Reeves’s dazzling intellect and passion. His essays are soaring reflections on joy, ecstasy, and stillness as profound practices that fuel Black freedom and resistance. He loads every rift of his subjects with ore, as he pays generous attention to artists ranging from Zora Neale Hurston to OutKast to Michael K. Williams. Reeves’s declamations are riven with insights that have truly changed my way of thinking.”―Cathy Park Hong
    Roger Reeves is the author of the poetry collections King Me and Best Barbarian. His essays have appeared in Granta, the Yale Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award, and teaches at the University of Texas at Austin.

  • IWP Sunday Reading Series

    October 1, 2023 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join us for the International Writing Program's Prairie Lights Reading Series this Sunday to hear readings by two 2023 Fall Residency writers and one University of Iowa MFA student.

    Yashika Graham (poetry, fiction, nonfiction, visual artist; Jamaica), the winner of the 2019 Mervyn Morris Prize for Poetry, has also received a Centrum Writer’s Residency. Her poetry, prose, and literary criticism have been published internationally; her debut collection Some of Us Can Go Back Home is forthcoming from Blouse & Skirt Books.

    Li Kotomi (novelist, essayist, translator; Taiwan/ Japan) is the author of Hitorimai, published in 2022 as Solo Dance, Porarisu ga furisosogu yoru [Night of the Shining North Star] (2020), and Higanbana ga saku shima [The Island Where Red Spider Lilies Bloom] (2021). She is the winner of the Akutagawa Prize. Kotomi writes in Japanese, self-translating her work into Mandarin. .

    Derick Edgren Otero is a third-year MFA candidate in the Iowa Playwrights Workshop. Most recently a 2023 Lambda Literary Writers Retreat Playwriting Fellow and recipient of the KCACTF Region V Latinx Playwriting Award, their bilingual play Mother:Knife, developed with La MaMa Umbria, premiered in the University of Iowa’s Gallery Series in October 2022.

  • Juliana Lamy in conversation with Rasheeda Saka

    October 2, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers' Workshop graduate Juliana Lamy will read from her new short story collection, You Were Watching From the Sand.  She will be joined in conversation by Rasheeda Saka. "Every sentence Juliana Lamy writes is like a match being struck. Not many authors debut with her clarity of vision, inventiveness, and verbal agility, and I would wager almost anything that You Were Watching from the Sand will mark only the first chapter in an important body of work." - Kevin Brockmeier

    Juliana Lamy is a Haitian fiction writer with a bachelor's degree in history and literature from Harvard College, and is a 2023 graduate of the Writers' Workshop. In 2018, she won Harvard's Le Baron Russell Briggs Undergraduate Fiction Prize. She writes about Haiti, the Caribbean, Haitian spirituality, and vodou. She currently resides in Boynton Beach, Florida.

    Writers' workshop graduate Rasheeda Saka is a Nigerian American writer, and her short stories have appeared in Joyland MagazineTriquarterly, and Epiphany Magazine.

  • Aron Aji

    October 3, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Director of Translation Programs Aron Aji will read from his new translation of the dark and exciting novel Lojman, by Ebru Ojen. "A parable of violence—of state mandation, of mothering alone, of being mothered, of the vastness of nature—that shocks the system like stepping out the front door into a snowstorm. What does it mean to be a woman, and to be mothered by women, who have suffered under such alienation? Ebru Ojen captures the experience of immense pain with dark fervor and deft lyricism."—Makenna Goodman

    Aron Aji is the President of The American Literary Translators Association. He has translated works by Bilge Karasu, Murathan Mungan, Elif Shafak, Ferit Edgü and other Turkish writers. His translations of Bilge Karasu: Death in Troy; The Garden of Departed Cats won the 2004 National Translation Award; and A Long Day’s Evening won an NEA Literature Fellowship, and was short-listed for the 2013 PEN Translation Prize. He is Director of Translation Programs at the University of Iowa.

    Ebru Ojen was born in 1981 to Kurdish parents in Malatya.  She has published three novels, and is one of the most important emerging female voices in Turkish literature.

  • Kaveh Akbar in conversation with Christopher Merrill

    October 4, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Kaveh Akbar will read from his edited anthology,  The Penguin Book of Spiritual Verse:110 Poets on the Divine. He will be joined in conversation by IWP Director and poet, Christopher Merrill. 

    This rich and surprising anthology is a holistic, global survey of a lyric conversation about the divine. These works range from The Epic of Gilgamesh through canonical figures like Blake, Dickinson and Tagore, alongside lesser-anthologized, diverse poets going up to the present day. Together they show the breathtaking multiplicity of ways humanity has responded to the spiritual, across place and time.
    Kaveh Akbar's poems appear in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Paris Review, Best American Poetry, and elsewhere. He is the author of two poetry collections: Pilgrim Bell and Calling a Wolf a Wolf, in addition to a chapbook, Portrait of the Alcoholic.  His first novel, Martyr, is forthcoming in 2024. He teaches at the University of Iowa and lives in Iowa City.

  • Michael Dumanis & Johannes Göransson

    October 5, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join us for an evening with Writers’ Workshop graduates and poets Michael Dumanis and Johannes Göransson.

    Jericho Brown calls Michael Dumanis’s Creature “a brilliant book, a gift that fills needs we didn’t know we needed. This book is a word-drunk movement. I am so envious that I didn’t write it.”

    Michael Dumanis is the author of the poetry collections Creature (Four Way Books, 2023) and My Soviet Union (University of Massachusetts Press, 2007), winner of the Juniper Prize for Poetry. Born in Moscow, in the former Soviet Union, Dumanis emigrated with his family at the age of five and grew up in Western New York. He holds a BA from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Dumanis joined the Bennington faculty in Fall 2012.

    Of Johannes Göransson’s Summer, PJ Lombardo says, “I burned through my first read of this book in an afternoon. It is a mesmerizing artwork, a nerve loaded with punishing sensitivity.” 

    Poet and translator Johannes Göransson emigrated with his family from Skåne, Sweden to the United States at age 13. He earned a BA from the University of Minnesota, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his PhD from the University of Georgia. The author of several books of poetry, his poems, translations and critical writings have appeared in a wide array of journals in the US and broad, including Fence, Lana Turner, Spoon River Review, Modern Poetry in Translation (UK), Kritiker (Denmark) and Lyrikvännen (Sweden). His is he is the program director of the Creative Writing program at the University of Notre Dame and, together with Joyelle McSweeney, edits Action Books.


  • Margo Steines in conversation with Melissa Febos

    October 6, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Margo Steines will read from her new book Brutalities, “a searing, vivid memoir that investigates the dynamics of violence, power, desire, and a body pushed to the brink.” She will be joined in conversation by Nonfiction Writing Professor Melissa Febos.

    “Brutalities is electric with insight, riveted by its commitments—to love and bewilderment, to bearing witness—and utterly propulsive in its explorations of compulsion, tenderness, caregiving, and desire.” –Leslie Jamison, author of The Empathy Exams

    Margo Steines holds an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Arizona, where she teaches writing. Her work has appeared in the New York Times (Modern Love), the Sun, and elsewhere. A native New Yorker, she lives in Tucson, Arizona.

    Melissa Febos is the author of Whip Smart, Abandon Me, Girlhood, and Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative.


  • One Community One Book - Joanne Ramos at Pomerantz Center

    October 8, 2023 - 1:30pm

    C20 Pomerantz Center at University of Iowa

    The Iowa City Book Festival and The UI Center for Human Rights present Joanne Ramos, for a special Keynote Event  and book signing at C20 Pomerantz Center at 1:30 pm.  The UI Center for Human Rights selected Joanne Ramos's The Farm as this year's One Community, One Book title. Told from the perspective of four women, The Farm explores gender, race, and class, and of who has access to power, freedom, and choice.

  • IWP Sunday Readings Series-

    October 8, 2023 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join us for the International Writing Program's Prairie Lights Reading Series this Sunday to hear readings by two 2023 Fall Residency writers and one University of Iowa MFA student.

    Orit Gidali (poet, children’s book author, editor; Israel) is the author, most recently, of the poetry volume התאומים [The Towers ] (2021); Twenty Girls to Envy Me, a Hebrew-English edition of her collected poems, was longlisted for the 2017 PEN America Literary Award. She also writes children’s books, receiving in 2022 the Dvora Omer Award for [Kind of a Unicorn].

    Suo Er (fiction; editor; PRC) is the author of the novel 伐木之夜 [The Night of the Felling] and the story collection 非亲非故 [Noncorrelation]. His works have appeared in China’s top literary magazines and received many awards. His writing concerns itself with the dispersion of cultures, and with lives of individuals in a “Southern framework.”

    The Argentinian writer Sofia Balbuena has a degree in Political Science from the Universidad de Buenos Aires, a MA in Literary Creation (Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona). She has worked as a bookseller, and a reader for publishing houses in Spain specializing in contemporary Latin American literature. Her book-length essay Doce pasos hacia mí was published in 2022 by the Argentina-based Vinilo.