History and Mission

The 2018 Luther College Writers Festival was the fifth gathering of writers and readers held on the Luther campus since 2007. In 2007 and 2010, The Lutheran Festival of Writing brought readers together with poets and writers of fiction and nonfiction who have been shaped by the Lutheran tradition. Luther College was delighted to take the leadership in hosting these successful Festivals, under the direction of Carol Gilbertson. Through readings, lectures, and panel discussions, we aimed to highlight this writing for students, faculty, and a wider public, as well as to support and encourage serious reading and writing and to cultivate a community of writers and readers in the Lutheran world.

Luther College, the primary stakeholder and sponsor for the Festivals, decided in 2013 to continue its commitment to this gathering, but to change its name to Luther College Writers Festival, in part to expand our audience and focus. The Festival continues its ongoing mission to explore the deep and diverse ways in which highly crafted literature in all genres explores the human condition and illuminates the spiritual and moral imagination of readers. The works of 2013 keynote speakers Mark Salzman and Anne Lamott were examples of this in the highest order. We were thrilled in 2016 to welcome Erik Larson, along with Bret Anthony Johnston and Jane Hamilton. Beginning in 2018, we are delighted to host the Festival on a biennial basis, and welcome Julie Schumacher, David Gonzalez, and Yasmin Darznik, along with Luther alum poet Jill Osier to our roster.

Continuing in the Festival in 2021 is an undergraduate writing contest in the genres of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. It is our hope to use the contest to inspire participation of Luther students and guests from other colleges in the area to nurture the next generation of writers.

We will also continue our commitment to making the Festival a gathering for both writers and readers—an event intended to leave room for conversation and lively exchange among them, as well as showcase the literary and spiritual imaginations that keeps us alive.