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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    February 5, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers' Workshop Graduate Tola Rotimi Abraham will read from her “fresh and fierce debut,” Black Sunday. “...Tola Rotimi Abraham proves that it's an act of indelible resistance every time a young woman tells her story. Through the eyes of a family at its brink, Abraham reveals the truth about violence, tenderness, and the disquiet in between. Black Sunday is a surprising switchblade of a novel." --Amy Jo Burns

    Tola Rotimi Abraham is from Lagos, Nigeria. She lives in Iowa City and is currently pursuing a graduate degree in journalism. A 2017 graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she has taught writing at the University of Iowa, and her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Catapult, The Des Moines Register, and The Nigerian Literary Magazine.


    February 6, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Sean Adams will read from his imaginative and darkly hilarious satire, The Heap. "As intellectually playful as the best of Thomas Pynchon and as sardonically warm as the best of Kurt Vonnegut, The Heap is both a hilarious send-up of life under late capitalism and a moving exploration of the peculiar loneliness of the early 21st century. A masterful and humane gem of a novel."-- Shaun Hamill

    Sean Adams is a graduate of Bennington College and the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His fiction has appeared in Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, The Normal School, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, The Arkansas International, and elsewhere. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa with his wife, Emma, and their various pets.


    February 12, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    University of Iowa alum Michael Zapata will read from his debut novel, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau. "Zapata is a thrilling new talent. Alternating between the quest for a man in post-Katrina New Orleans for whom a mystery manuscript was left to be posthumously delivered, and the tale the manuscript itself tells, The Lost Book of Adana Moreau is an ambitious novel that probes for friendship, the possibility of parallel worlds, and the way the real and the unreal meet at every moment."—Ingrid Rojas Contreras

    Michael Zapata is a founding editor of MAKE: A Literary Magazine. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction; the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program award; and a Pushcart Nomination. As an educator, he taught literature and writing in high schools servicing drop out students. He has lived in New Orleans, Italy, and Ecuador, and currently lives in Chicago.

  • Clubfoot


    February 13, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Thomas Cook, PT, PhD,  will read from and talk about his new book published by Ice Cube Press, Clubfoot: The Quest for a Better Life for Millions of Children.  Clubfoot tells the little-known story of the remarkable Dr. Ignacio Ponseti, who developed a revolutionary non-surgical treatment for Clubfoot to eliminate lifelong disability for the 200,000 children born every year with this deformity.  Dr. Ignacio Ponseti (1914-2009), began his medical career as a medic in the Spanish Civil War before being he was forced into exile in France and then Mexico. He emigrated from Mexico to Iowa City in 1941 to study with the orthopedic surgeon Arthur Steindler, and began his life-long quest to reshape children’s futures from lives of pain and disability to lives of hope and promise. 

    Clubfoot author Thomas Cook was fortunate to know and work with Dr. Ponseti for several years. Professor Cook is a physical therapist, biomedical engineer, global health expert, and Fulbright Scholar. He is Director of Global Operations for the Ponseti International Association, a founding member of the Rotarian Action Group for Clubfoot, a co-founder of the non-profit Clubfoot Solutions and one of the developers of the Iowa Brace. 



    February 17, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Kate Wisel will talk about her linked short stories, Driving in Cars With Homeless Men.  "Driving in Cars With Homeless Men is gritty in the best sense. These 20 linked short stories -- some of them very short -- offer up hard granules of truth about contemporary women contending with dispossession, oppression and violence. By focusing on the lives and friendships of four main characters living in working-class too does she reveal bigger realities about substance abuse, family, anger and hope."-- Kathleen Rooney

    Kate Wisel is a native of Boston. Her fiction, nonfiction, and poetry has appeared, or is forthcoming, in publications that include Gulf Coast, New Ohio Review, Tin House online, Redivider as winner of the Beacon Street prize, and on the Boston subway as winner of the "Poetry on the T" contest. She lives in Chicago.


    February 18, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    The Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing presents acclaimed essayist and NYT bestselling author Jia Tolentino. A staff writer for the New Yorker, Tolentino will read from her renowned debut collection, Trick Mirror, and discuss her essays on modern culture during a Q&A.  

    "It isn't hyperbolic to say that New Yorker staff writer Jia Tolentino could be the Joan Didion of our time--writing about feminism, vaping, popular music, religion, and sexual assault with equal amounts of ease and insight. In her debut essay collection, the writer unveils nine new pieces that help cement her place in the essayist canon. She's an expert in the sweet spot where contemporary politics and youth culture meet and make out." --Vulture

    Raised in Texas, she studied at the University of Virginia before serving in Kyrgyzstan in the Peace Corps and receiving her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan. She was a contributing editor at The Hairpin and the deputy editor at Jezebel, and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Grantland, Pitchfork, and other publications. She lives in Brooklyn.


    February 19, 2020 - 7:00pm

    Prairie Lights

    Writers’ Workshop graduate Brandon Taylor will read from his highly anticipated debut novel, Real Life.  Danielle Evans describes Real Life as “a gorgeous work of art, and the introduction of a singular new voice. Through Wallace, the book explores the tension of a person trying to become himself while surrounded by people who can see him only as their own projection. Even as Brandon Taylor dives beneath the level of polite surface interaction and into the ache of what people conceal from one another, or reveal only as weaponry, his sharply rendered observations make it a true pleasure to spend time in this book’s world.” Kiese Laymon says,  "This book blew my head and heart off. For a debut novelist to disentangle and rebraid intimacy, terror, and joy this finely seems like a myth. But that, and so much more, is what Brandon Taylor has done in Real Life . The future of the novel is here and Brandon Taylor is that future's name."

    Brandon Taylor is the senior editor of Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading and a staff writer at Literary Hub. He holds graduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Iowa, where he was an Iowa Arts Fellow at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.