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.  

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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  • Angie Cruz

    October 6, 2022 - 5:30pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    Special 5:30 event presented with the Iowa City Book Festival and the Magid Writing Center at the University of Iowa!  Please join us us for a reading and conversation with Angie Cruz in celebration of the release of her book How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water (Flatiron Books, 2022).

    Angie Cruz is the author of the novels How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water, Soledad, Let It Rain Coffee, and Dominicana, which was shortlisted for the Women's Prize and a Good Morning America Book Club pick. She is founder and editor in chief of Aster(ix), a literary and arts journal, and is an associate professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

  • One Community, One Book presents Alex Kotlowitz

    October 7, 2022 - 7:00pm

    W10 PBB at the University of Iowa

    An Iowa City Book Festival Event

    The 2022 One Community, One Book choice is An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago by best selling author, journalist, and documentary filmmaker Alex Kotlowitz. This is a captivating collection of stories that will transform the way readers think about gun violence in America. Over the past 20 years in Chicago, 14,033 people have been killed and another 60,000 wounded by gunfire. The latest book by Kotlowitz examines the psychological toll gun violence takes on the spirit of individuals and communities. This event will feature a keynote by Alex Kotlowitz and a book signing. 

  • John Koethe

    October 8, 2022 - 11:30am

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    An Iowa City Book Festival Event

    A rich, meditative new collection of poetry from John Koethe, the “necessary and great poet” (Hyperallergic).

    “It’s presumptuous, but if you’re reading this you
    Probably know my usual obsessions and preoccupations:
    The “world”—both the word and what it stands for—and time,
    Which is or isn’t real, depending on my mood. I’ve always
    Hated poems about philosophy, and I hope I still do,
    But since I don’t know what that means anymore, here I am,
    Musing on my ends and my beginnings one more time . . .”

    In Beyond Belief, John Koethe poses eternal and essential questions about the rhythms of time, language and literature, and “the space between attention and belief.” The eleventh book of poetry from America’s philosopher-poet is an intimate, searching collection that gives life to the mundane and lends words to our most interior and abstract musings. What makes a life real? Words on a page, the accumulation of moments and memories, or nothing at all? And what is it worth? Locked inside, have we lost our future and its promises or are we merely pressed to inhabit our present and ourselves?

    The award-winning poet invites us into his consideration of our world, as “an ordinary person sitting on his balcony on a summer afternoon, / Waiting patiently for someone to explain it to and meanwhile / Living quietly in his imagination, imagining the afterlife.”

  • Jennifer Knox

    October 8, 2022 - 1:00pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    An Iowa City Book Festival Event

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Jennifer L. Knox.

    Jennifer L. Knox will read from her new poetry collection, Crushing It. Knox is a celebrated poet and writer whose work is known for its dark and imaginative humor. The author of four previous books of poetry, including Days of Shame & Failure, Knox's poems have appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Granta, McSweeney's, and four times in The Best American Poetry series. Knox lives in central Iowa, where she teaches at Iowa State University and in a series of private poetry writing classes online.

  • Elizabeth McCracken

    October 8, 2022 - 2:30pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    An Iowa City Book Festival Event

    Ten months after her mother’s death, the narrator of The Hero of This Book takes a trip to London. The city was a favorite of her mother’s, and as the narrator wanders the streets, she finds herself reflecting on her mother’s life and their relationship. Thoughts of the past meld with questions of the future: Back in New England, the family home is now up for sale, its considerable contents already winnowed.

    The woman, a writer, recalls all that made her complicated mother extraordinary—her brilliant wit, her generosity, her unbelievable obstinacy, her sheer will in seizing life despite physical difficulties—and finds herself wondering how her mother had endured. Even though she wants to respect her mother’s nearly pathological sense of privacy, the woman must come to terms with whether making a chronicle of this remarkable life constitutes an act of love or betrayal.

    The Hero of This Book  is a searing examination of grief and renewal, and of a deeply felt relationship between a child and her parents. What begins as a question of filial devotion ultimately becomes a lesson in what it means to write. At once comic and heartbreaking, with prose that delights at every turn, this is a novel of such piercing love and tenderness that we are reminded that art is what remains when all else falls away.

    Elizabeth McCracken is the author of many books. She has received grants and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Liguria Study Center, the American Academy in Berlin, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. Thunderstruck & Other Stories won the 2015 Story Prize. Her work has been published in The Best American Short StoriesThe Pushcart PrizeThe O. Henry PrizeThe New York Times Magazine, and many other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where she has also taught. 

  • Elizabeth Weiss

    October 8, 2022 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    An Iowa City Book Festival Event

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Elizabeth Weiss in celebration of the release of her book The Sisters Sweet (The Dial Press, 2021).

    Elizabeth Weiss earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. The Sisters Sweet was named a New York Times Editors' Choice. Her nonfiction has been published in The New Yorker online. She has taught for the University of Iowa, the Iowa Young Writers’ Studio, and the Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop, and is a mentor for the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. She lives in Minneapolis with her family.

  • International Writing Program Sunday Reading Series

    October 9, 2022 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    Join us for the International Writing Program at Prairie Lights Sunday Reading Series to hear some of this years’ IWP residents read from their work. Readers TBA.

  • Taylor Brorby

    October 11, 2022 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Taylor Brorby in celebration of the release of his book Boys and Oil: Growing Up Gay in a Fractured Land (Liveright, 2022). 

    Taylor Brorby is the author of Boys and Oil: Growing up gay in a fractured landCrude: PoemsComing Alive: Action and Civil Disobedience, and co-editor of Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America. He is a contributing editor at North American Review and serves on the editorial boards of and Hub City Press. Taylor regularly speaks around the country on issues related to extractive economies, queerness, disability, and climate change. He is the Annie Tanner Clark Fellow in Environmental Humanities and Environmental Justice at the Tanner Humanities Center at the University of Utah.


  • Iowa Literary Legends: Lan Samantha Chang

    October 12, 2022 - 7:30pm

    The Englert Theatre - 221 E Washington St, Iowa City, IA 52240

    Sit in on a one-of-a-kind conversation with Iowa Writers’ Workshop director and renowned novelist Lan Samantha Chang (93MFA), who will chat with host Charity Nebbe, of Iowa Public Radio’s Talk of Iowa, and read from her most recent book, The Family Chao. Oprah Daily Insider recognized Chang as one of eight women writers changing the world—and The Family Chao appeared on Barack Obama’s 2022 Summer Reading List.

    Prairie Lights Bookstore will sell copies of The Family Chao beforehand, and you will have an opportunity to ask questions after the reading. You also are invited to a book signing, on the second-floor gallery, at the end of the event.

    Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to attend all University of Iowa sponsored events. If you are a person with a disability who requires a reasonable accommodation in order to participate in this program, please contact the sponsoring department or contact person listed in advance of the event.

  • Kimberly Johnson

    October 13, 2022 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Bookstore

    Please join us for a reading and conversation with Kimberly Johnson in celebration of the release of her book FATAL. She will also read from Still Life, a book of poetry by her late husband, Jay Hopler.

    Kimberly Johnson is a poet, translator, and literary critic. Her poetry, translations, and scholarly essays have appeared widely in publications including The New YorkerSlateThe Iowa ReviewMilton Quarterly, and Modern Philology. Recipient of grants and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Utah Arts Council, and the Mellon Foundation, Johnson holds an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. Kimberly Johnson lives in Salt Lake City, Utah.