College of Saint Benedict Literary Arts Institute

College of Saint Benedict Literary Arts Institute serving the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University (LAI) is a unique organization, founded in 1997, to foster creative writing, publishing, and interaction between students and writers. LAI brings nationally recognized authors to the college for a visiting writers series (Writers Writing), promotes literary events, holds conferences (Inside Books), supports publications (S. Mariella Gable Prize), and encourages the artistry of fine letterpress (Welle Book Arts Studio). With its local and national partners, such as Graywolf Press, LAI is able to bring writers and their work together with readers on campus, in Minnesota, and beyond.

Jamel Brinkley Public Reading: September 11, 7:00 p.m. Gorecki 204 BC

Jamel Brinkley is the 2018 Sister Mariella Gable Award recipient for his debut short story collection, A Lucky Man, published by Graywolf Press and A Public Space Books. A graduate of Columbia University and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Brinkley has had works of fiction published in The Best American Short Stories 2018, A Public Space, Ploughshares, American Short Fiction, and LitMag, among others. Brinkley was the 2016-2017 Carol Houck Smith Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and will be the 2018-2020 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Fiction at Stanford University.

In A Lucky Man, Brinkley details nine stories of black men and boys whose mistakes threaten their personal relationships, giving light to a world shaped by race, gender and class.

Tarfia Faizullah Public Reading: November 8, 7:00 p.m. Upper Gorecki

Tarfia Faizullah’s highly anticipated second collection, Registers of Illuminated Villages, extends and transforms her powerful accounts of violence, war, and loss into poems of many forms and voices—elegies, outcries, self-portraits, and larger-scale confrontations with discrimination, family, and memory. One poem steps down the page like a Slinky; another poem responds to makeup homework completed in the summer of a childhood accident; other poems punctuate the collection with dark meditations on dissociation, discipline, defiance, and destiny; and the near-title poem, “Register of Eliminated Villages,” suggests illuminated texts, one a Qur’an in which the speaker’s name might be found, and the other a register of 397 villages destroyed in northern Iraq. Faizullah, the author of the award-winning collection Seam and a winner of a VIDA Award and Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, is an essential poet whose work only grows more urgent, beautiful, and—even in its unsparing brutality—full of love. 

Joyce Carol Oates Public Reading: February 19, 7:00 p.m. Escher Auditorium, The Benedicta Arts Center

Joyce Carol Oates is the author of multiple best-selling novels and critically-acclaimed collections of short fiction, as well as essays, plays, poetry, and a memoir.  Writing in The Nation, critic Henry Louis Gates Jr. said, “A future archeologist equipped only with her oeuvre could easily piece together the whole of postwar America.” 

She is the Roger S. Berlind Distinguished Professor of the Humanities at Princeton University, and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.  In 2010, President Obama awarded her the National Humanities Medal.

Spencer Reece Poetry Reading: March 26, 7:00 p.m. Upper Gorecki
An additional documentary viewing March 25, 7:00 p.m. Upper Gorecki

Spencer Reece is an ordained Episcopalian priest and currently works as a chaplain in Spain.  His first poetry book, The Clerk’s Tale (2004), was chosen for the Bakeless Poetry Prize by Louise Glück, and later adapted into a short film produced by James Franco.  His poetry collection, The Road to Emmaus (2013), was nominated for the National Book Award.

From 2012-2013 Reece taught poetry in a Honduran orphanage, and compiled and published a book of his students’ poems: Counting Time Like People Count Stars: Poems by the Girls of Little Roses, San Pedro Sula, Honduras (2017). Reece’s experiences with these students was also filmed and produced into a documentary: Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Love Poems from the Murder Capital of the World.

Mary Dana Hinton, CSB President

"The written word has come under tremendous pressure in this digital era. Our students now must move deftly between virtual and physical texts, between brief, fleeting messages and powerful, enduring literature. Writing has been at the center of the liberal arts tradition at the College of Saint Benedict since our founding and we remain committed to educating students in the twin arts of reading and writing...The Literary Arts Institute stands as a vital expression of our century-long history of promoting the very finest in scholarship and the arts."