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 hereWe're sorry! We're experiencing technical difficulties with our system and events will not be live streamed until we can fix it. We apologize for any inconvenience!

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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    July 20, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights Café

    The Sawyer Quartet will perform from 7-8pm in the Prairie Lights Café in a free event. Formed in 2016 at the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music in Nelson, New Hampshire, and influenced by the inclusive and supportive ethos they found there, the quartet’s primary goals are to make live chamber music more readily available in public life, mitigate barriers to access, and actively seek audiences unlikely or unable to attend concerts in traditional settings. They will perform Mozart D Major String Quartet (K 575); Schubert A minor String Quartet, “Rosamunde”; and a couple of short pieces for viol consort by William Byrd and Thomas Lupo.

    Lily Holgate, Violin

    Kenneth Trotter, Violin

    Sarah Hill, Viola

    Chelsea Bernstein, Cello


    July 22, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    ISWF instructors and Writers’ Workshop graduates Charles Holdefer and Anthony Varallo will read from their new fiction.

    Charles Holdefer will read from Magic Even You Can Do. Holdefer is the author of the novels Dick Cheney in Shorts, The Contractor, Apology for Big Rod and Back In The Game. He is also the author of a work of Literary Criticism called George Saunders’ Pastoralia Bookmarked. His short fiction has appeared in magazines including the New England Review, Chicago Quarterly Review, North American Review, Los Angeles Review, and Slice. His story The Raptor won a Pushcart Prize. He grew up in Iowa and he currently teaches at the University of Poitiers, France.

    Anthony Varallo will read from The Lines.  "With charming language, familiar circumstances, and a taut narrative, this book evokes that point in time when every child suddenly realizes the adults around them don't really know what they're doing. That is the world we inherit, the world Varallo permits us to turn over in our hands, landmarked with curious relics of Americana wholly worth the gaze."—Venita Blackburn

    Varallo is the author of four short story collections including Everyone Was There. He is professor of English at the College of Charleston, where he teaches creative writing. He lives in Charleston, South Carolina.


    July 23, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    ISWF instructor and Writers’ Workshop graduate Sabrina Orah Mark will read from Wild Milk, published by Dorothy, a Publishing Project. “Sabrina Orah Mark is a writer of strangeness & tenderness & undeniable brilliance. I wanted to read this book aloud to everyone I’ve ever loved, & to fold it into a locket to keep close to my heart.” —Elizabeth McCracken

    Sabrina Orah Mark is the author of the poetry collections, The Babies and  Tsim Tsum. For The Paris Review she writes a monthly column on fairytales and raising boys entitled "Happily." She lives, writes and teaches in Athens, Georgia.


    July 25, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    John Domini will read from his new novel from Dzanc books, The Color Inside a Melon. “John Domini enters the world of African immigrants in Naples living on the edge of the law, in a gripping, noir-ish thriller written in prose that somehow manages to be both elegant and hard-boiled. An absorbing read."—Salman Rushdie

    John Domini is the author of numerous works of fiction, poetry, and literary criticism, including his most recent novel, Movieola. He has published fiction in Paris Review and Ploughshares, non-fiction in GQ and the New York Times, and won a poetry prize from Meridian. Grants include a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He has taught at Harvard, Northwestern and elsewhere, He lives in Des Moines.


    July 28, 2019 - 2:00pm

    Iowa City Public Library

    Please join University of Iowa legend Willard L. "Sandy" Boyd to hear him read from and talk about his new book, A Life on the Middle West's Never-Ending Frontier, from University of Iowa Press. Sandy Boyd’s decades of service to the university began in 1954, when he arrived as a law professor. He served as president of the University of Iowa from 1969 to 1981.

    His memoir, interspersed with personal wisdom gleaned over more than six decades of service and leadership, encapsulates Boyd's shrewd yet optimistic view of the public university as an institution. At every stage in his life–in the U.S. Navy during World War II, while practicing law or teaching, and in leadership positions at Chicago's Field Museum and the University of Iowa– Boyd relied on his principles of open disclosure, inclusiveness, and respect for differences to guide him on issues that matter.

    This memoir provides  a lens through which to examine our present situation, whether debating free speech on campus, the role of the arts and humanities in civil society, or the importance of funding for educational and cultural institutions.


    July 30, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    New Yorker writer Casey Cep will read from her book, Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee. An instant New York Times Bestseller that stayed on the list for four weeks, Furious Hours tells the stunning true story of Alabama serial killer Reverend Willie Maxwell, and the true-crime book about him that Harper Lee spent decades working on in the years after she wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.  

    "A triumph on every level. One of the losses to literature is that Harper Lee never found a way to tell a gothic true-crime story she'd spent years researching. Casey Cep has excavated this mesmerizing story and tells it with grace and insight and a fierce fidelity to the truth." —David Grann

    Casey Cep is from the Eastern Shore of Maryland. After graduating from Harvard with a degree in English, she earned an M.Phil in theology at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, and The New Republic.


    August 1, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate in poetry Anthony McCann will read from his new work of nonfiction, Shadowlands: Fear and Freedom at the Oregon Standoff "A momentous and important non-fiction debut . . . The core subject is nothing less than the nature of American identity and the concept of freedom. Admirably, McCann's ethos is not that of a neutral bystander but of a truth seeker. He thinks through viewpoints with depth and empathy, but he also takes stands and calls out the problematic for what it is. . . . This is a heavily researched and thoughtful book, written with detail and care, that asks big questions of the reader and of the country." —starred review, Booklist

    Anthony McCann is the author of the poetry collections Thing MusicI Heart Your Fate and Moongarden. He currently teaches creative writing at the California Institute of the Arts and in the Low-Residency MFA program of University of California, Riverside. He lives in the Mojave Desert.


    August 3, 2019 - 11:00am

    Prairie Lights

    The 2019 Iowa Blues and Soul Festival presents authors Dr. Venise Berry, Dr. Steven T. Berry, Caleb Rainey and Rachelle Chase in a special panel discussion led by Dr. Irenea Walker assistant professor at UNI.

    Venise Berry, associate professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at UI is the author of the book, Driven. Steven T. Berry, former associate professor of journalism and film at Howard University, is the author of T.E.A.R.S. and The Honeyman’s Son. Rachelle Chase, senior business analyst for Fortune 500 companies is the author of Lost Buxton, and Creating the Black Utopia of Buxton Iowa and Caleb Rainey who co-founded a literary magazine as a way to share, amplify and uplift black voices on campus at University of Iowa is the author of Look, Black Boy. Ambition, joy, sadness, racism and identity will be explored at various levels in each of these books.


    August 6, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Local debut novelist Craig N.Willis will read from The Deadly Mondaine.  In The Deadly Mondaine, the life of Hattie Rosales is tracked from her origin in Post-World War II, working class, southside Chicago, through her early career at Marshall Fields’, through her business partnership with  Ludmilla “Milly” Netsurov, and continuing with her rapid relocation from the Chicago area to Gethsemane Illinois. The central mystery in the book is the shotgun slaying of a local mogul at his faux French Chateau in suburban Gethsemane. Hattie finds herself to be both investigator and  suspect in the different mysteries that weave through the story. 

    Craig Willis, after a multiple-decade career as a practicing transactional attorney, has committed to writing his first book, in a genre beloved to him, mystery. He lives in Iowa City, Iowa, with his spouse and law partner, Nancy B. Willis. Inspired by the campaign #BookstoresAgainstBorders, organized in July by independent bookstores, Willis will be donating all author royalties from sales at the reading to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES).


    August 9, 2019 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Local author Lori Lacina will read from Mama Said There’d be Days Like This.  “...This is a charming collection of reflections on life in Iowa. Informative, funny and delightful, Lacina’s stories are like a slice of warm apple pie and should be savored as such.” —Beth Howard

    These 365 daily essays include reflections, lists, recipes and ponderings. This book will inspire you, make you laugh and make you think. Some of the topics include: circles of women, lost socks, second chances, heartaches, goat yoga, cow cuddling, and music.  

    Lori Lacina grew up in Iowa City and recently retired from her career in banking.