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.
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    October 10, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join us for a special Iowa City Book Festival event with Sarah Cypher, who will read from her debut novel The Skin and Its Girl, which Booklist calls “Stirring . . . There are elements of magic realism in this captivating novel about the importance of family and story, but more importantly, the tale is enriched by the presence of fully realized, multidimensional characters. . . . [A] splendid first novel.”

    Cypher has an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, where she was a Rona Jaffe Fellow in fiction, and a BA from Carnegie Mellon University. Her writing has appeared in the New Ohio Review, North American Review, and Crab Orchard Review, among other publications. She is from a Lebanese Christian family in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and lives in Washington, D.C., with her wife.


  • Marta McDowell at Coralville Public Library- Book Festival Event!

    October 11, 2023 - 1:00pm

    Coralville Public Library

    Special afternoon event at the Coralville Public Library! The Iowa City Book Festival presents author Marta McDowell, who will talk about her new book, Gardening Can Be Murder: How Poisonous Poppies, Sinister Shovels, and Grim Gardens Have Inspired Mystery Writers. "What could be more intriguing than a murder in the garden? In her newest book, Marta McDowell takes us on a delightfully diabolical romp through the role of horticulture in crime fiction. From deadly seeds, to menacing pruning shears, to suspicious groundskeepers, the garden has always provided both the motive and means to commit the perfect crime. Gardening Can Be Murder belongs on the shelf of every Agatha Christie fan--and every gardener who enjoys a little mischief and mayhem."-- Amy Stewart

    Marta McDowell teaches landscape history and horticulture at the New York Botanical Garden and is a popular lecturer and writer.  Her latest book is Gardening Can Be Murder, about the horticultural connections to crime fiction. She is the author of Unearthing The Secret Garden, Emily Dickinson's Gardening Life, The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, New York Times-bestselling All the Presidents' Gardens, and Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life. She was the 2019 recipient of the Garden Club of America's Sarah Chapman Francis Medal for outstanding literary achievement. 


  • Tracie Morris

    October 11, 2023 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    The Iowa City Book Festival presents Writers' Workshop faculty member Tracie Morris, who will share her latest poetry collection, Human/Nature

    "Tracie Morris is the genius poet of the double-dutch: crafted, elegant, urgent, playful, fun, and musically timed. In human/nature poems, Morris dismantles gentrification, climate violence, space/history travel, ancestry, and inspires us to look at our relationship to what we call 'nature,' and what we deem 'human.' Our memories are stirred toward ice, discoloration, and with the simple act of opening a refrigerator, we are in the middle of an epiphany, in a constant state of departure even as we arrive. This book is a journey into the future, a requiem, and a boomerang (...)"--Willie Perdomo

    Morris is writer/editor of several books and is a poet, professor, performer, voice teacher and theorist. She has performed extensively around the world. Her sound installations have been presented at numerous institutions, including the Drawing Center, Ronald Feldman Gallery, Thomas Hirschhorn’s Gramsci Monument presented by Dia Art Foundation, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, Dia: Chelsea, The Kitchen Performance Space, The Museum of Modern Art, The Silent Barn, and The Whitney Biennial. Morris is the recipient of awards, fellowships, and grants for poetry and performance, including NYFA, Creative Capital, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well MacDowell and Yaddo residencies. Morris is Professor of Poetry at the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.

  • Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Translation! Ever New, Ever Elusive at Old Capitol Senate Chamber

    October 12, 2023 - 6:30pm

    Old Capitol Senate Chamber

    Join us with the Iowa City Book Festival at the Old Capital Museum, Senate Chamber at 6:20 pm for Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: “Translation! Ever New, Ever Elusive”

    Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak will give the inaugural Weissbort-Spivak Lecture in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the MFA in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa.

    More info available here.


  • Daniel Kraus at 11:30 AM (Iowa City Book Festival)

    October 14, 2023 - 11:30am

    Prairie Lights

    Join us with the Iowa City Book Festival this Thursday morning for a reading of Whalefallwith Iowa's own Daniel Kraus. 

    "GRAVITY meets 127 HOURS at sea in Daniel Kraus 's astounding new book Whalefall. Easily one of my favorite novels of the year." —Gillian Flynn

    “A crazy, and crazily enjoyable, beat-the-clock adventure story about fathers, sons, guilt and the mysteries of the sea . . . [Kraus] brings the rigor of a scientist and the sensibility of a poet to his descriptions of the undersea world.”—New York Times

    Daniel Kraus is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels and graphic novels. He coauthored The Living Dead with legendary filmmaker George A. Romero. With Guillermo del Toro, he coauthored The Shape of Water, based on the same idea the two created for the Oscar-winning film. He has won two Odyssey Awards, and The Death and Life of Zebulon Finch was named one of Entertainment Weekly’s Top 10 Books of the Year. His books have been Library Guild selections, YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults picks, Bram Stoker finalists, and more. His work has been translated into over twenty languages. 

  • Eskor David Johnson at 1 PM (Iowa City Book Festival)

    October 14, 2023 - 1:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    The Iowa City Book Festival presents Writers' Workshop graduate Eskor David Johnson, who will read from his debut novel Pay As You Go

    “A madcap odyssey through the hellscape that is the metropolis of the near future. […] Like Dante, Slide wanders in circles, soaking in weirdness, tragedies, and occasional flashes of beauty. And like Joyce, Johnson builds a world that, for all its improbabilities, is recognizable. […] An inventive, beautifully written debut that will leave readers wanting more.”

    “Johnson’s unbridled debut runs in circles of accelerating grandiosity and lunacy.”
    Publishers Weekly

    Eskor David Johnson is a writer from Trinidad and Tobago and the United States. His writing has appeared in BOMB Magazine, and McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern. A graduate of Harvard University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he currently lives in New York City.

  • Mindy Mejia at 2:30 PM (Iowa City Book Festival)

    October 14, 2023 - 2:30pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join us with the Iowa City Book Festival this Thursday afternoon for a reading of Mindy Mejia's thriller To Catch a Storm

    “Mejia delivers her best work yet in this propulsive, intelligent page-turner. . . Mejia gives Eve and Jonah uncommon depth, which makes their potentially clichéd skeptic/believer dynamic feel surprisingly fresh. . . This indelible thriller has series potential.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review) 

    Mindy Mejia is a CPA and a graduate of the Hamline University MFA program. Her debut novel, The Dragon Keeper, was published by Ashland Creek Press in 2012. She lives in the Twin Cities with her family, and is the author of Strike Me DownEverything You Want Me to Be, and Leave No Trace. Her latest mystery novel is To Catch a Storm.

  • Ayana Mathis at 4:00 PM (IOWA CITY BOOK FESTIVAL)

    October 14, 2023 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    The Iowa City Book festival presents an afternoon reading of The Unsettled by Writers' Workshop graduate Ayana Mathis, whom Yiyun Li has described as "one of the most brilliant writers working in today's America."

    "[A] powerful book.” —Marilynne Robinson

    Mathis’ first novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie was a New York Times best seller, an NPR Best Book of 2013, the second selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. and has been translated into sixteen languages. Her nonfiction has been published in the The New York Times, The Atlantic, Guernica, and Rolling Stone. Mathis is a graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop. She was born in Philadelphia, and currently lives in New York City where she teaches writing in Hunter College’s MFA Program.

  • IWP Sunday Reading Series

    October 15, 2023 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join us for the International Writing Program's Prairie Lights Reading Series this Sunday to hear readings by two 2023 Fall Residency writers and one University of Iowa MFA student.

    Iya Kiva (poet, translator, journalist; Ukraine) is the author of poetry volumes [Farther from Heaven] (2018) and [The First Page of Winter] (2019). Her poems have been translated into more than 30 languages and awarded nationally and internationally. She translates Polish and Belarusian poetry.

    Wong Yi Eva (fiction writer, essayist, librettist, editor; Hong Kong) is the author of short stories collections [Ways To Love In A Crowded City], [The Four Seasons of Lam Yip], [Patched Up], and [News Stories], as well as the libretti for Cantonese-language chamber opera [Women Like Us], and multimedia concert [The Happy Family]. 

    Bela Shayevich is a Soviet-American writer, translator and visual artist. She is currently getting her MFA in Nonfiction Writing at the University of Iowa. Her latest book-length translation is journalist Elena Kostyuchenko's I Love Russia. Her writing has appeared in n+1, Jewish Currents, Harper's, and The Nation.

  • IWP Sunday Reading Series

    October 29, 2023 - 4:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Join us for the International Writing Program's Prairie Lights Reading Series this Sunday to hear readings by two 2023 Fall Residency writers and one University of Iowa MFA student.

    Artur Domosławski (non-fiction, journalist; Poland) has among his titles Gorączka latynoamerykańska [Latin American Fever], Śmierć w Amazonii [Death in the Amazonas], the essay collection Wykluczeni [The Outcasts] and two biographies: Ryszard Kapuściński: A Life, for which he was voted “Journalist of the Year” for 2010.

    Reetta Pekkanen (poet; Finland) has published the collections Pieniä kovia nuppuja [Small Hard Buds] (2014), Kärhi [Tendril] (2019), Salakuljetuksia [Smugglings] (2021) and Katkaistut tulppaanit [Cut Tulips] (2023). Her poetry focuses on themes of personal and environmental loss, non-human perspectives, and natural semiotics. 

    Jack Rockwell is a literary translator, writer and editor. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Chicago Review of Books, Hopscotch Translation, Latin American Literature Today, Rust + Moth, and more. He is currently an MFA candidate at the Iowa Translation Workshop, where he is Editor-in-Chief of Exchanges: A Journal of Literary Translation.