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.
rss RSS


    October 18, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Lisa Wells and Joshua Marie Wilkinson will read from their recent poetry collections.

    Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate Lisa Wells will read from The Fix, selected by Brenda Shaughnessy for the 2017 Iowa Poetry Prize. “Line by line, Wells delivers a brilliant, taut, terrifying debut that renders the parts of the inner and outer world for which there is no real cure.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

    Joshua Marie Wilkinson will read from Meadow Slasher, the fourth book in his No Volta pentalogy. A meditation on violence and the self, Meadow Slasher maps out the intensity of a break down in eerie and shadowy language. “Wilkinson is one of our essential contemporary poets.”—Kenyon Review


    October 23, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join us for a lively three-person event with Marvin Bell, Christopher Merrill and Stephen Corey. Marvin Bell and Chris Merrill will read from If & When, the forthcoming sequel to After the Fact: Scripts & Postscripts. Stephen Corey, editor of the Georgia Review in which excerpts of the new book have just been published, will be in conversation with  poets Merrill and Bell. 

    Marvin Bell was Iowa's first poet laureate, and has published more than 20 books of poetry and has received numerous honors. He taught for 40 years at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he is emeritus professor. Christopher Merrill is the Director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He has published six collections of poetry, several edited volumes, and six books of nonfiction. In addition to editing the Georgia Review, Stephen Corey is the author of nine volumes of  poetry.


    October 24, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City author Ralph Savarese will read from and talk about his new book, See it Feelingly: Classic Novels, Autistic Readers, and the Schooling of a No-Good English Professor. “This deft and impassioned hybrid—part memoir, part disability study, part portraiture, part literary criticism—is a book of revelations about reading, neurodiversity, and American literature. I was repeatedly startled by its slow cascade of correctives and insights—deepened, widened, and enlarged. It is a necessary book.” — Edward Hirsch

    Ralph James Savarese is the author of Reasonable People: A Memoir of Autism and Adoption and co-editor of three collections, including one on the concept of neurodiversity. He has published widely in academic and creative writing journals. In 2012-13 he was a neurohumanities fellow at Duke University's Institute for Brain Sciences. He is an English Professor at Grinnell College in Iowa


    October 25, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Valeria Luiselli, Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor and author of Tell Me How It Ends: An Essay in 40 Questions and The Story of My Teeth, will read from her work. 

    The reading is sponsored by the Nonfiction Writing Program, the Department of English, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, the Provost's Office, Prairie Lights Books, and the Kyle J. and Sharon Krause Family Foundation.

    "Tell Me How It Ends is a remarkable little work that, through its narrow lens, says more about the country than books ten times its size." —GQ


    October 26, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Michelle Kuo will read from and talk about Reading with Patrick: A Student, a Teacher, and a Life-Changing Friendshipwhich is the 2018 One Community One Book title, selected by The UI Center for Human Rights. "Anyone interested in questions of pedagogy, racism, and incarceration in America, not to mention literary criticism, will be enthralled by this book . . . It is hard to read this challenging book . . . and not think, You must change your life."—James Wood

    Michelle Kuo is a graduate of Harvard Law School has worked as a Teach for America volunteer, worked legal aid at a nonprofit for Spanish-speaking immigrants, has volunteered as a teacher at the Prison University Project and clerked for a federal appeals court judge in the Ninth Circuit. Currently she teaches courses on race, law, and society at the American University in Paris. She won the 2016 Board of Trustees Award for Distinguished Teaching.


    October 27, 2018 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    A reading from Iowa's inaugural collection of stories written by bicultural Iowans and immigrants,  We The Interwoven: An Anthology of Bicultural Iowa tell the stories of three Americans--three Iowans-- who have made their home in the heartland over the last two generations.  Authors Sadagat Aliyeva, Chuy Renteria, and Melissa Palma will read excerpts from their collection followed by a Q&A with Andrea Wilson, series editor and Executive Director of the Iowa Writers' House, on topics ranging from the artistic process of creating the book to the challenges of being a third culture kid in America today.

    About the Authors:

    Born in Baku, Azerbaijan, during the Soviet Era of Stagnation, Sadagat Aliyeva always had a burning desire for freedom. She was drawn to arts, poetry, and spirituality as a child. Her desire of freedom eventually brought her to Iowa. Her fictional folktale-like stories tell of the magic and beauty in human nature. Not only are Aliyeva's stories featured in this collection, but so are her imaginative and beautiful illustrations.

    Jesus "Chuy" Renteria is an artist, writer, dancer, and a storyteller. Raised in West Liberty, both sides of his family are from border towns in Mexico that were transplanted to meat packing towns in the Midwest. Chuy tells stories celebrating the spaces between culture, of mangled Spanglish and generational clashes, of the messiness of people finding themselves.

    Melissa Palma is the daughter of Filipino immigrants and grew up in a multi-generational household with her grandparents, parents, and little sister, in Waterloo, Iowa. Today she's a graduate of the University of Iowa, dedicating her life to helping others. Her stories tell tales of a life centered in "Ang pamilya," the Tagalong word for family.

    We the Interwoven is the first book in an ongoing series, published by the Iowa Writers' House as part of the Bicultural Iowa Writers' Fellowship.


  • ROSELLEN BROWN in conversation with Linda Kerber

    October 29, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Rosellen Brown will read from her novel The Lake on Fire, published by Sarabande. “What a remarkable feat of imagination, recreation and literary craft is this superb novel set in turn-of-the-century Chicago.  What really drives it, in the best tradition of Dreiser, Doctorow, Bellow, Tillie Olson, Anzia Yesierska and Henry Roth, is the deeply sympathetic involvement in moments of consciousness and action, by which a seemingly lost world is triumphantly retrieved.”  —Phillip Lopate

    Rosellen Brown will be joined in conversation by UI Professor of History Emerita, Lecturer in Law, Linda Kerber, who will talk with her about the historical context and cultural significance of the time, with a focus on Jewish Immigrant experience and women’s history.

    Rosellen Brown is the author of ten novels, including Civil Wars, and Tender Mercies. Her stories have appeared frequently in O. Henry Prize Stories, and Best American Short Stories. She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


    October 30, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Poets Austin Smith and Dora Malech will read from their new poetry collections.

    Austin Smith will read from Flyover Countrya collection of poems drawing on his Illinois childhood on a dairy farm. Smith challenges the idea that the American Midwest is mere “flyover country,” while suggesting America itself has become a flyover country, carrying out drone strikes and surveillance abroad in a state of perpetual war Americans seem helpless to stop. “A book of vital and generative reckoning.”—Jane Hirshfield

    Smith is the author of Almanac, which was chosen by Paul Muldoon for the Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets. His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, and Ploughshares, and his stories have appeared in Harper’s, Glimmer Train, and Kenyon Review. He was a recipient of an NEA Fellowship in prose, and is a former Wallace Stegner Fellow in fiction. He lives in Oakland.

    Writers’ Workshop graduate and former Iowa Youth Writing Project Director Dora Malech will read from Stet, which uses constrained forms such as erasure and the anagram to consider other kinds of constraints: a vow, the body, creating art out of a life in flux. “With anagrammatic swerve, Dora Malech stitches letters into lyric tapestries of cascading metamorphoses. The stunning final series reinvents a Plath poem: poiesis becoming as palpable as the dawning of crystals in dark matter."—Charles Bernstein

    Malech is the author of Shore Ordered Ocean and Say So. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Best New Poets, and Poetry London. A 2010 Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellow, she lives in Baltimore and teaches writing at Johns Hopkins University.


    November 1, 2018 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Author, documentary producer, Roboprofessor, and cultural critic Kembrew McLeod will read and show images from his new book, The Downtown Pop Underground: New York City and the Literary Punks, Renegade Artists, DIY Filmmakers, Mad Playwrights, and Rock 'n' Roll Glitter Queens —a kaleidoscopic tour of a small geographic area had an outsized impact on American culture during the 1960s and 1970s.

    "Downtown New York in the latter half of twentieth century was so much more than a Warhol print and a CBGB-OMFUG T-shirt. McLeod tracked down more than 100 denizens of that freaky bohemian milieu to tell the stories most people don't know. The Downtown Pop Underground breathes new fire into a familiar history and is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how American bohemia really happened.” — Ann Powers "critic, NPR Music "

    The Downtown Pop Underground honors those who were at the forefront of a movement that transformed our understandings of sexuality and artistic freedom.” — Lily Tomlin

    Kembrew McLeod is an award-winning author of several books whose writing has been featured in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Rolling Stone, Slate, and Salon. A professor of communication studies at the University of Iowa, he is the recipient of a recent NEH Public Scholar fellowship to support this project. He lives in Iowa City.



    November 4, 2018 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Ice Cube Press presents Barbara Feller and Betty Moffett, who will read from their new books, The Road to Waubeek and Coming Clean.  Both books are about Iowa.

    Barbara Feller has worked as an educator in schools and museums in the Cedar Rapids area. “I found The Road To Waubeek by author and good friend Barb Feller to be a wonderful and satisfying account of the timeless beauty and value of Linn County, Iowa. There is so much to discover and appreciate, including the richness of the friendships between Jay Sigmund, Grant Wood, and Paul Engle. These pages help capture the essence of an incredibly creative and meaningful time in the Midwestern Heartland.” —Mark Stoffer Hunter

    Betty Moffett lives in Grinnell, Iowa, where she taught for nearly thirty years in the college’s Writing Lab and then began using the advice she offered to her students in her own work. Her stories have appeared in various magazines and journals.

    “In Coming Clean, Betty Moffett pays homage to the power of storytelling, revealing the glimmer and grit that ripple beneath the stoic exterior of rural America. In prose that’s as clean and inviting as a fresh-swept porch, Moffett lovingly chronicles the heart-swells and heartaches that make up a life well lived.” —Dean Bakopoulos