Fiction authors to read at Prairie Lights


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Graduates of Emerson College and authors John Cotter and Adam Golaski were not friends at the school. But they connected in Boston, competing against each other in poetry slams, and they became great friends.

It may be a coincidence that both of their books were published at the same time, but because of that, they are able to read together for the first time in Iowa City.

“I’m so excited to come to Iowa City,” Cotter said. “Reading at Prairie Lights is actually a dream come true, because it’s legendary. It’s like Christmas.”

Cotter and Golaski will read from their novels at 7 p.m. today at Prairie Lights Books, 15 S. Dubuque St. Admission is free.

Both started out writing poetry, then slowly started to write fiction and prose.

“I first started thinking of myself as a writer when I was 12,” Golaski said. “I wrote stories for my classmates, and they loved them. I didn’t start writing poetry seriously until after college, but for me, poetry and fiction have always been equally important.”

Cotter took a different approach. While he did start out in poetry, he realized it wasn’t the right medium for what he wanted to get across.

“Fiction seemed to come natural to me and I wanted to be able to tell the stories,” he said. “I got interested in the idea of identity, so I wanted to write about people who build their identities based on the people and surroundings around them.”

He will read from his first published novel, Under the Small Lights.

The book is about a a young man named Jack who can’t decide if he wants to be a playwright or a poet. During this process, Jack is also trying to find his true identity.

“The novel is fiction and a comedy, but I have a lot in common with the main character,” Cotter said.
Golaski will read from his second novel, Color Plates. Prairie Lights will be the fifth stop on his reading tour.

“[Color Plates] is a collection of 65 short stories in which each story corresponds to a painting by either Degas, Manet, or Mary Cassatt,” Golaski said. “The book is a museum of stories that are inspired by impressionist painters.”

It turns out that the two are not only talented writers, they are also very down-to-earth.

Golaski teaches literature and writing courses at two colleges in Connecticut, and he is currently leading a course focused on ancient and world literature. When he’s not making silly crafts with glue and scissors for his daughter, he likes to sing and record songs that he has written.

Cotter teaches a creative-writing class and English as a second language at Grubb Street, an adult writing center in Boston. In his spare time, he enjoys directing South Asian musicals — couple years ago he directed Bend it like Auntie. Though he has a range of creative abilities, his experiences as a writer have prepared him for the artistic writing world.

“When you’re writing, don’t think about your peers, what’s cool, or what best-seller writers are doing,” he said. “Write the book or poem that only you can write because once you’re able to write, it’s very rewarding.”

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