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University of Iowa News Release

April 4, 2006

WSUI 'Live From Prairie Lights' Celebrates 15th Anniversary With Party

The "Live from Prairie Lights" series on University of Iowa radio station WSUI, AM 910, will celebrate its 15th anniversary with an all-star event and broadcast, 7-9 p.m. Tuesday, April 18, in the Englert Theatre in downtown Iowa City. The live event is free and no tickets are required. A reception will follow.

Julie Englander will be the host of the broadcast, as always. Listen on the Internet at

On hand will be a line-up of prominent writers who have read from their work on "Live from Prairie Lights," including UI Writers' Workshop alumna Mary Swander; Jane Hamilton; Dorothy Allison; Lan Samantha Chang, director of the Writers' Workshop; Karen Joy Fowler; Colson Whitehead; Writers' Workshop faculty members James Alan McPherson, James Galvin, Chris Offutt and Marvin Bell; Iowa Poet Laureate Robert Dana; David Hamilton, editor of the Iowa Review; Non-Fiction Writing Program faculty member Patricia Foster; and Christopher Merrill, director of the UI International Writing Program.

They will offer remarks or read selections to express their response to the "Live From Prairie Lights" 15th Anniversary. In addition, the audience will be treated to clips from some the other authors who have visited the program throughout the years. And, as always, there will be an opportunity for participation by the live audience.

"Live from Prairie Lights" is the only ongoing series of broadcast literary readings in American radio, featuring fiction writers, poets and non-fiction writers reading from their work. Although the program is unique in American broadcasting, it is a natural for the UI, the "writing university."

Most broadcasts have originated in the Prairie Lights Bookstore at 15 S. Dubuque St. in downtown Iowa City, a bookstore known internationally as the haunt of writers in the Writers' Workshop, the Non-Fiction Writing Program and the International Writing Program.

The live events are often standing-room-only, and occasionally, when unusually large crowds are anticipated, the readings have been held in a variety of locations around campus. And the crowds HAVE turned out for popular and famous writers including Garrison Keillor, Amy Tan, Norman Mailer, Susan Sontag, Gloria Steinem, Marilynne Robinson and Barbara Kingsolver.

"'Live From Prairie Lights' is a first -- broadcasting a live radio program from an independent bookstore, which showcases the latest talents of established and new writers from here and around the world," says Englander, who has been the host from the very beginning.

"When doing a live show you never know what to expect. The potential for surprising, interesting and profound moments is always there -- we've experienced many throughout the years. As host, I enjoy being a catalyst, a bridge in the relationship between author and audience. That's what public radio is supposed to do, draw the public into an event, a place, a moment that touches them, teaches them, entertains and involves them. It's wonderful welcoming listeners, authors and audience members into this special public radio program."

The mission of the Englert Civic Theatre, Inc., is to own, maintain and operate the Englert Theatre as a community arts center and performance space, enhancing the vitality of Iowa City's historic downtown by preserving its last historic theater. For more information, visit the Englert Web page: .

The Writers' Workshop, the English department and the Non-Fiction Writing Program are units of the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

For UI arts information and calendar updates, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail,

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,