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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  • ANDRE PERRY in conversation with TAMEKA CAGE CONLEY

    November 14, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City’s Andre Perry will read from his new collection of essays published by Two Dollar Radio, Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now.  He will be joined in conversation by Tameka Cage Conley. Named a "Most Anticipated Book of 2019"  by LitReactor, The A.V. Club, and Big Other, Foreword Reviews declares "Andre Perry is a fresh American voice that demands to be heard." 

    Perry’s debut collection of personal essays travels from Washington, DC, to Iowa City to Hong Kong in search of both individual and national identity. While displaying tenderness and a disarming honesty, Perry catalogs racial degradations committed on the campuses of elite universities and liberal bastions like San Francisco while coming of age in America.

    Andre Perry received his MFA from the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, and his work has appeared in The Believer, Catapult, and Granta.  He is the Executive Director of the Englert Theatre, co-founder of Iowa City's Mission Creek Festival, musician, and writer.

    Perry will be joined in conversation by Tameka Cage Conley, a literary artist who writes poetry, fiction, and plays, and is a creative scholar, and teaching artist.  This event is co-sponsored by the Iowa Nonfiction Writing Program, and a reception in the café will follow the event.


    November 15, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Rutgers University Professor Frances Bartkowski will read from her novel, An Afterlife.  This takes place in a small Bavarian town in a displaced persons camp set up by the Allies after World War II.  "Bartkowski delivers a novel that transcends the fiction genre. This work is as detailed and accurate (with brutal and miraculous turns) as the most searing historical documents, folded in a narrative as immediate and vivid as a poetic memoir. The book is written as it must have been lived, with an ear to the ground and an eye to the future." -- Brenda Shaughnessy

    Frances Bartkowski has published three books of literary criticism: Feminist Utopias; Travelers, Immigrants, Inmates; and Kissing Cousins, as well as essays and poetry. She has participated in seminars at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and teaches literature and culture at Rutgers University - Newark


    November 17, 2019 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join the Iowa Youth Writing Project for their Fall 2019 end-of-semester student reading, featuring brilliant student writers from Johnson and Linn County K–12 schools. Snacks and camaraderie in the café to follow!


    November 18, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Man Booker International Prize-winnner, University of Iowa MFA in Translation alum, and National Book Award Finalist Jennifer Croft will read from her new memoir, Homesick.

    “This inventive, stellar memoir examines the tensions between siblings and their separate fates in the most unsettling, unexpected ways. Jennifer Croft's keen attention to the nuances and music of language is abundantly present in every sentence of Homesick.” -Idra Novey

    Jennifer Croft is the award-winning translator of Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights. She is founding editor of The Buenos Aires Review and has published her own work and translations in The New York Times, The LARB, Granta, VICE, n+1, Lit Hub, BOMB, Guernica, The New Republic, and The Guardian. She lives in Buenos Aires and Los Angeles, and is currently a visiting professor at University of Iowa.





    November 19, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Martha Birkett Bordwell will read from her memoir, Missing Mothers.  “By framing her memoir around missing mothers, author Martha Bordwell raises the ethical dilemmas and emotional consequences trans-national adoption has on families. Missing Mothers addresses a challenging and necessary subject in accessible and intimate prose, inviting readers on a complex parenting journey. Through compelling considerations of race, grief, and privilege, we uncover a deep empathy for people in families acting to transform loss and the unknown into acceptance, understanding and love.” -Patricia Cumbie

    Martha Bordwell shares her experience of losing her own mother when she was six years old and being raised by her stepmother,  and explores her own ways as an adult of mothering an infant son from South Korea and a daughter from Guatemala. Martha Bordwell, PhD, is a retired psychologist whose academic writing has appeared in professional journals such as Teaching Exceptional Children and Ours Magazine. A former Iowan, she currently lives in Minneapolis.


    November 20, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Iowa City Public Library meeting room D

    Please join Paul’s Book Club to discuss the 2017 Man Booker Shortlisted novel, Elmet by Fiona Mozley.  "Part fairy tale, part coming-of-age story, part revenge tragedy with literary connections, Mozley's first novel is a shape-shifting, lyrical, but dark parable of life off the grid in modern Britain. Mozley's instantaneous success . . . is a response to the stylish intensity of her work, which boldly winds multiple genres into a rich spinning top of a tale." ─Kirkus (starred review)

    Everyone is welcome - just read the book and come to the Iowa City Public Library Meeting Room D and join Paul Ingram to talk about this preternaturally accomplished debut novel.


    November 22, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    “With wit and a straight-forward passion, Robert Leonard writes of the tough and tender daily lives of the Midwestern working class.  He captures the voices and vicissitudes of the barbers and bartenders, farmers and butchers, factory and maintenance workers who are trying to survive and find their balance within their families and communities in today’s rural landscape. A poetry of the people, Deep Midwest rips off the fancy wrapping paper and gives you a glimpse a reality you may know, but never see captured elsewhere in literature.”–Mary Swander

    Native Iowan Bob Leonard is an anthropologist who has conducted field research all over the world and he has published  dozens of scientific books, papers, and newspaper articles, as well as an unusual ethnography of the taxi cab industry in Albuquerque titled Yellow Cab. He has written for Salon and The Hill, and continues to be an occasional contributor to the New York Times, and the Kansas City Star.  He lives in Marion.


    November 24, 2019 - 3:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Des Moines authors Wini Moranville and Sharelle Byars Moranville will talk about their newly published books, The Little Women Cookbook: Tempting Recipes from the March Sisters and Their Friends and Family, and Surprise Lily, which is written for middle-grade readers and is about growing up as a farm kid, and the relationships between sisters, mother, daughters and secrets. 

    Wini Moranville is a food and wine writer/editor who has worked on numerous cookbooks under the Better Homes and Gardens imprint. Since 1997, she has also written over 500 restaurant reviews for The Des Moines Register. She currently writes a monthly wine column for Relish, is a member of the James Beard Foundation, and has served as a Restaurant Awards panelist there since 2005.

    Sharelle Byars Moranville is the author of the critically acclaimed middle grade novels Over the River and 27 Magic Words, which received starred reviews in School Library Journal and Kirkus Reviews and was a 2017 Notable Children's Book in the Language Arts. She lives in West Des Moines, Iowa.


    December 5, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Iowa City native Colin Hamilton will read from his elegantly woven narrative of life and literature,  The Thirteenth Month.  “The Thirteenth Month is a multiverse of mirrors and infinite texts spanning the inevitable labyrinth that exists between a young man’s books and his reality. It belongs in the company of Borges, Pessoa and Schulz, the very writers Hamilton admires, all the while cleverly disguised as an Iowan’s bildungsroman.”  —Elizabeth McKenzie

    Colin Hamilton grew up in Iowa City and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in Poetry. Hamilton published a chapbook as well as poetry and essays in various journals, and then built a career in public affairs, helping to develop the Minneapolis Central Library, the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, and affordable housing projects for low income artists in New York, New Orleans,  and Honolulu. He lives in St. Paul and works for Public Radio International. 

    Please join us after the event for a reception in the cafe, hosted by David Hamilton and Rebecca Clouse.