About Us

College of Saint Benedict Literary Arts Institute serving the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University 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.

Inside Books

Inside Books is a summer program designed to give participants an intensive, first-hand experience with literature in the pastoral environs of the College and its Benedictine setting. Inside Books brings participants together to read and discuss celebrated current books and will invites the authors to deliver an evening reading, answer participants’ questions, and discuss their writing. This program is aimed specifically toward readers – book club members and book lovers from around the country. The week is a celebration of reading and gives participants the unique experience of engaging with other interested readers and with major writers and their works.

In previous years, Inside Books hosted Pulitzer Prize winning poet Jorie Graham and esteemed fiction writer Douglas Bauer as visiting authors and, with LAI partners Graywolf Press, Utne Reader, and Ruminator Review, introduced participants to the publishing industry with presentations from publishers, editors, publicists, literary agents, and book and magazine distributors from the Twin Cities and New York, including Alice Quinn, literary editor at The New Yorker and current president of the Poetry Society of America.

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 Welle Book Arts Studio is used in the Editing and Publishing course offered each fall semester, and noted book artist Sara Langworthy conducts workshops in letterpress artistry. Alumna Mary Jo Pauly, past director of the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, used the Book Arts Studio to design, print, and bind The Mirror of Simple Souls, a special limited letterpress edition bringing the words of celebrated poet and classicist Anne Carson together with visual 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

MaryAnn Baenninger

From MaryAnn Baenninger, President, College of Saint Benedict

“The Literary Arts Institute of the College of Saint Benedict exemplifies our long-standing heritage of honoring and cultivating the highest standards in scholarship and the arts. The LAI is representative of the commitment of the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University to attracting the nation’s best writers and most talented students of literature to campus, in having our campuses serve the learning needs of the community, and fostering an environment of intellectual challenge, rigorous scholarship, and artistic creativity.”