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University of Iowa News Release

Dec. 2, 2004

'Live From Prairie Lights' Presents Holiday Stories Dec. 16

Writer Mary Swander and actor Tim Budd will read from "Christmas on the Great Plains," published by the University of Iowa Press, at 8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 16 at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City. The free event will be broadcast on "Live from Prairie Lights," hosted by Julie Englander on UI radio station WSUI, AM 910. Listen on the Internet at

Swander, who is a contributor to the anthology, will read her story "The Living Creche," in which she gathers with friends for a potluck dinner and reenactment of the nativity scene.

Budd, a graduate of the UI Department of Theatre Arts, will read Mari Sandoz's "The Christmas of the Phonograph Records," which tells of isolated homesteaders who travel far to hear the sounds of their first phonograph. 

Sandoz (1896-1966) was a noted Nebraska novelist, biographer, historian, teacher and Plains Indians authority.

Featuring stories and essays by both classic and contemporary regional authors, including Willa Cather, Hamlin Garland, Jane Smiley, Paul Engle, Constance Vogel and Ted Kooser, "Christmas on the Great Plains," offers unique geographic, historical and cultural perspectives on winter's holiday celebrations and traditions from lutefisk and julebukking to sleigh bells and twinkling lights.

The volume was edited by Dorothy Dodge Robbins and Kenneth Robbins.

Swander is the author of, most recently, "The Desert Pilgrim," along with a memoir, "Out of This World"; a book of literary interviews, "Parsnips in the Snow"; and three books of poetry -- "Heaven-and-Earth House," "Driving the Body Back" and "Succession."

She is the editor of three additional collections, recipient of numerous awards and a regular commentator on WOI radio in Ames and National Public Radio's Sunday Weekend Edition.

Her poems, essays, short stories and articles have appeared in publications including the Nation, National Gardening Magazine, the New Republic, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine and Poetry. She is a graduate of the UI Writers' Workshop and a professor of English at Iowa State University.

Budd has appeared in the Riverside Theatre production of "Still Life with Iris," "Much Ado about Nothing" and "Measure for Measure" at the 2004 Riverside Theatre Shakespeare Festival. He also played Elyot Chase in a fall 2003 Gilbert Street production of "Private Lives" and Roy Cohn in the University Theatres production of "Angels in America."

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STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Arts Center Relations, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500.

MEDIA CONTACT: Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073,

OTHER INFORMATION: To request a review copy or additional information, contact Deidre Woods at 319-335-2008 or