About Us

Literary Arts Institute Mission Statement

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 (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.


Writers Writing

This program brings working writers of the highest caliber to the College each year for readings, class visits, and conferences. Writers Writing integrates these writers’ works into the curriculum and allows students to spend meaningful time with visiting authors. Poets, fiction writers, memoirists, and essayists who have recently visited include: Sven Birkerts, Nick Flynn, Albert Goldbarth, Donald Hall, Tony Hoagland, Marie Howe, Li-Young Lee, Bharati Mukherjee, Carl Phillips, U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, Scott Russell Sanders, and Natasha Trethewey.

Sister Mariella Gable Prize

Dante scholar, poet, editor, writer, champion of new fiction, the late Sister Mariella Gable was an outstanding English professor who taught at the College of Saint Benedict from 1928-1973. She guided many students into lives informed by literature and played an important role in the early careers of such writers as Flannery O’Connor, Betty Wahl, and J.F. Powers. Past recipients of the award include Ru Freeman, Deborah Baker, Binyavanga Wainaina, Ellen Bryant Voigt, Linda Gregg, Tracy K. Smith, Nurruddin Farah, Jane Kenyon, Clint McCown, and Joe Coomer.

Writers at Home

The Writers at Home program is a unique partnership between the College of Saint Benedict Literary Arts Institute and Office for Education Abroad (OEA) that brings CSB/SJU study abroad students together with writers from their host country. Often, these writers' works have been part of the required study abroad seminar and the program enables students to further engage in their host country's culture and literary tradition.  The writers' visits include two of three parts: an address and reading open to the public, a class visit on that country's literature with just CSB/SJU students, or an excursion to an area with literary significance.  Many of these writers' visits have been supported by U.S. Dept. of Education Title VI Undergraduate International Studies and Foreign Languages grants.

Welle Book Arts Studio

A series of generous gifts allowed LAI to assemble a studio at the College where professional artists and students can design and print books using hand-set letterpresses and paper-making equipment. The studio is used in the Editing and Publishing course offered each fall, and noted book artist Sara Langworthy conducts workshops in letterpress artistry. Alumna Mary Jo Pauly used the Book Arts Studio to design, print, and bind The Mirror of Simple Souls, a limited letterpress bringing the words of celebrated poet Anne Carson together with images by artist Kim Anno.


For information on LAI, its programs and activities, please contact Mark Conway, Director: (320) 363-5399 / mconway@csbsju.edu

Literary Arts Institute
College of Saint Benedict
37 College Avenue South,
Benedicta Arts Center
Saint Joseph, MN 56374

President Mary Dana Hinton

“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.  Through reflection, collaboration, and mentoring, students learn to express their deepest thoughts clearly and precisely, formulate arguments skillfully and convincingly—and find life-long pleasure in writing and in reading.  The Literary Arts Institute stands as a vital expression of our century-long history of promoting the very finest in scholarship and the arts.”