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.
rss RSS

  • Theodore McCombs in conversation with Sanjena Sathian

    June 9, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Virtual - Zoom

    Please join us on Zoom for a virtual event with Theodore McCombs, who will read from and talk about his new short stories, Uranians, with Sanjena Sathian.  "McCombs draws worlds--past, present, and future--in which capitalism-assisted technologies and patriarchy-induced paranormalities have taken control, rendering us unrecognizable to one another. These are extraordinary tales of anti-heroes in post-apocalyptic and macabre landscapes who must battle systems to find their liberation and in the process illuminate our own. McCombs has written an absorbing and thought-provoking debut collection." --Alejandro Varela


    Theodore McCombs's stories have appeared in GuernicaThe Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and the anthology Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. McCombs is a graduate of UCSD, UC Berkeley School of Law, and the Clarion Writers Workshop. He lives in San Diego with his partner and their surly old cat and practices environmental law, with a focus on climate change.

    Sanjena Sathian is the author of the critically acclaimed novel Gold Diggers, which was named a Top 10 Best Book of 2021 by the Washington Post, a Best Book of 2021 by NPR and Electric Literature,  longlisted for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and it won Georgia’s 2023 Townsend Prize for Fiction. She is working on the TV adaptation with Mindy Kaling’s production company, Kaling International. She’s a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and currently teaches fiction at Emory University in Atlanta.

  • Michael Leali

    June 11, 2023 - 2:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Please join Prairie Lights and the LGBTQ Iowa Archive and Library for a free in-store event with author Michael Leali on Sunday, June 11th at 2:00pm! Prairie Lights will donate 10% of the day’s profits to the LGBTQ Iowa Archive and Library. Perfect for families and readers ages 8 and up, Michael Leali will read from and sign copies of, Matteo, his new novel which is a modern retelling of Pinocchio.

    Matteo breathes new life into the classic story of a wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy, using the story of Pinocchio to explore themes of queer coming-of-age, toxic masculinity, community, family, and friendship. Award-winning author Cynthia Leitich Smith (Sisters of the Neversea) says about Matteo, "This enchanting, modern homage to Pinocchio reminds us anything is possible if we're true to ourselves."

    Michael Leali is a graduate of the University of Iowa (2013), and is the author of the Golden Kite Award winning and Lambda Literary Award finalist, The Civil War of Amos Abernathy. Leali is an award-winning writer and educator living in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois. He earned his MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Learn more about Michael at and follow him @michaelleali on Instagram and Twitter. 

    Please join us for the reading and signing and support the LGBTQ Iowa Archive and Library!


  • Sandy Moffett

    June 14, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Ice Cube Press presents Sandy Moffett, Emeritus Professor of Theatre at Grinnell College, who will read from his new novel, The Ghost of Craven Snuggs.  "The Ghost of Craven Snuggs is a compelling, cinematic novel that understands that mind-boggling weirdness often goes hand-in-hand with ‘Midwestern nice.’ In the tradition of greats like Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard, Moffett combines his love of a place with a keen eye for the strange and the beautiful, bringing us a cast of unforgettable characters" -Dean Bakopoulos

    Sandy Moffett has taught at Grinnell since 1971 and continues to teach and direct plays on occasion, serving as a utility infielder for his department. An ardent outdoorsman and conservationist, he spends most of his time restoring prairie on his small farm, writing songs and stories, playing guitar and mandolin in The Too Many String Band, and catering to the whims of his three grandchildren. His writing has appeared in The Wapsipinicon Almanac, Rootstalk, and Saltwater Sportsman.

  • Clancy Martin in conversation with Tyler Fyotek

    June 16, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Acclaimed writer and professor of philosophy Clancy Martin will read from his intimate, insightful, at times even humorous memoir, How Not to Kill Yourself:A Portrait of the Suicidal Mindbased on his viral essay, “I’m Still Here.”  He will be joined in conversation by Iowa City therapist Tyler Fyotek.   Author David Shields calls the How Not to Kill Yourself, “The most honest, complicit, searing, and discomfiting book I’ve ever read about suicide (and I’ve read quite a few—out of purely scholarly interest, of course).” He adds, “All great narratives pose a battle between the force of life and the force of death; How Not To Kill Yourself does this as brilliantly and powerfully as any book I have encountered in quite some time. Thrilling and useful.”

    Clancy Martin is the author of How to Sell as well as numerous books on philosophy, and has translated works by Friedrich Nietzsche, Søren Kierkegaard, and other philosophers. A Guggenheim Fellow, his writing has appeared in The New YorkerNew YorkThe AtlanticHarper’sEsquireThe New RepublicLapham’s QuarterlyThe Believer, and The Paris Review. He is a professor of philosophy at the University of Missouri in Kansas City and Ashoka University in New Delhi. He is the survivor of more than ten suicide attempts and a recovering alcoholic.

    Tyler Fyotek currently practices psychotherapy in Iowa City. In a previous life, he studied Classics at the University of Iowa and wrote a dissertation on death and ethics (deathics) in Homer’s epics.

  • Burkhard Bilger

    June 20, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    New Yorker staff writer Burkhard Bilger will read from Fatherland: A Memoir of War, Conscience, and Family Secrets.  “A profoundly haunting work of historical investigation, a reporter’s dogged inquiry into the tangled history of his Nazi grandfather . . . Fatherland is an unflinching, gorgeously written, and deeply moving exploration of morality, family, and war.”—Patrick Radden Keefe

    “Burkhard Bilger has long been one of our great storytellers: an acute observer, an intrepid reporter, and a writer of unmatched grace. Fatherland is that rare book—a finely etched memoir with the powerful sweep of history.”—David Grann

    Burkhard Bilger has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 2001. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Harper's, and The New York Times, among other publications, and has been anthologized ten times in the Best American series. Bilger has received fellowships from Yale University, MacDowell, and the Cullman Center at the New York Public Library. His first book, Noodling for Flatheads, was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Jennifer Nelson.

  • Louisa Hall in conversation with Sam Chang

    June 22, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City author Louisa Hall will read from her genre-defying novel that explores the surreality of pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood in a country in crisis, Reproduction. "I read this novel in a single rapturous sitting, torn between the desire to hurtle through its hypnotic prose and the desire to reread every perfect sentence. Reproduction exquisitely captures the lunacy of inhabiting an animal body with a human mind, and somehow manages also to be gross, funny, heartrending, and formally acrobatic. Louisa Hall is a singular talent and I am a devotee." — Melissa Febos

    Louisa Hall is the author of the novels Speak and The Carriage House, and her poems have been published in The New Republic, Southwest Review, and other journals.  She is a professor at the University of Iowa, and the Western Writer in Residence at Montana State University.  Hall will be joined in conversation by Sam Chang, Director of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and author of the acclaimed novels The Family Chao, All is Forgotten Nothing is Lost, Hunger, and Inheritance.

  • Regan Penaluna in conversation with Rachel Yoder

    June 26, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Regan Penaluna will read from and talk about her new book, How to Think Like a Woman: Four Women Philosophers Who Taught Me How to Love the Life of the Mind, with Iowa City author Rachel Yoder.  "A feminist rallying cry informed by centuries of thought on the 'woman question,' this elegantly written and intellectually rigorous memoir is a gift to women in male-dominated fields—and to everyone living a life of the mind while also trying to be a decent human being." — Ada Calhoun

    Regan Penaluna was raised in small town Iowa and is currently a writer and journalist based in Brooklyn. She has been an editor at Nautilus Magazine and Guernica, where she wrote and edited long-form stories and interviews. A feature she wrote was listed in the Atlantic as one of “100 Exceptional Works of Journalism.”  Rachel Yoder is the author of Nightbitch and a founding editor of draft: the journal of process.