In Residence ... At Their Residence

Zoe Huot-Link

This summer saw the first Minnesota Street Creative Writing Workshops, an initiative of CSB’s Literary Arts Institute. The program, made possible by a generous grant, selects students (this year, nine of them) through a competitive application process to earn a Manitou Fellowship and a $7,500 stipend for the summer.

The original intent was for fellows to spend the summer in residence at Saint Ben’s, working on their writing individually, as a cohort and in conjunction with a rotating roster of three renowned professional writers: essayist Kendra Allen, fiction writer Chelsey Johnson and poet Sun Yung Shin.

Like many things this summer though, COVID-19 precautions shifted those plans and this year’s fellows worked on their writing from home. Rather than in-person workshops, road trips to publishing houses, a quiet residence hall for writing and one-on-one check-ins over lunch with English professor and director of the Literary Arts Institute Matt Harkins, students attended their workshops and met with editors at Graywolf Press and Coffee House Press from home, via Zoom.

But in the end, perhaps these changes were a good learning experience for this year’s fellows? “Meeting virtually can be challenging since our productivity becomes our own responsibility!” acknowledges Manitou Fellow Zoe Huot-Link ’21. “I’m reminded every day through rigor that creativity has to be first and foremost for my own fulfillment.”