Denny Prize faculty members.

From left to right: Kim Heikkila, Min-Ah Cho, Lucas Pingel, Elizabeth Fontaine, and Amy Hamlin.

Use Your Words

Denny Prize honors two faculty members

By Melissa Kaelin

For the first time in its history, the Denny Prize for Distinction in Writing was presented in two categories: creative writing and nonfiction.

Assistant Professor of English Lucas Pingel received the creative writing award for his poem collection Flurries. Assistant Professor of Theology Min-Ah Cho earned the nonfiction prize for The Body, To Be Eaten, To Be Written: A Theological Reflection on the Act of Writing in Theresa Hak Kyum Cha's Dictee. Both faculty members received $1,500.

Writing, of course, is the key to liberal arts learning," said President Andrea Lee, IHM, at the awards reception in November. "We are very proud to have such outstanding writers on our faculty — part of what makes St. Catherine University the outstanding institution that it is."

The Denny Prize honors Eleanor McCahill Denny SP'26, who attributed her abiding love for books and excellent writing to her professors at St. Kate's.

"Fishy," an excerpt from Flurries

By Lucas Pingel

I bullet a drop of sweat your way,
a memento of better feasts. Night-time

swallows us into ourselves, where we
catch fleeting moments of the us ten years

ago, doing things not much different,
but with better hairstyles. Day moves

away. The edge of another world we house
in our bellies, hastily built, but in this fair

climate will suffice. We eat our best
sanctuary accidentally. Yes, it's okay.

It's fun to rebuild. I imagine you working
ahead without me, steering the clouds

away from the whales, and I want you
to want my help, though I'm woefully

inexperienced in the art of shipwreckery.
Do other people talk like this? Have they

already found their valuables shoreside waiting
next to them as they dream about the things

they already know how to do? Certainly:
I'd take your camera any day. You throw your

pole into a fish and pull out a pond. That's nothing
to cough at, though it does smell funny.

— This poem was originally published in Midway Journal. Reprinted with permission.

An excerpt from Min-Ah Cho's winning essay

My suggestion of the metaphorical link between the acts of eating and writing the body of Christ is meant to illuminate the mutual dependency between the divine body and the multiple human bodies, and also between the institutional church and individual Christians. It is to highlight an ensemble of processes that allows the different groups and individuals in Christianity to be treated in their own rights and to be respected for their own distinctiveness. In that process, I may find my space too. My cultural location will require me, along with other tasks that I share with my fellow Christians, to break through the decayed barrier between different cultures and languages in reworking and rewriting the body of Christ. Instead of avoiding the conflicts and trying to resolve them hastily, I may create cacophony, challenge the conventional sense, and translate emerging insights across different cultures. Walter Benjamin's understanding of the task of the translator applies to my task as well. I may cast my own language into the "spell of another" in order "to liberate the language imprisoned in a work in [my] re-creation of that work." 60 What underlies my speaking and writing as a Korean female theologian is the conflict between the fear of allowing myself to be mistaken and the desire to bend myself to accepted norms — in order to be understood.

— Cho's essay is included in Women, Writing, Theology: Transforming a Tradition of Exclusion; published November 2011.

The Winning Entries

Scroll down this page for excerpts from Flurries and The Body, To Be Eaten, To Be Written: A Theological Reflection on the Act of Writing in Theresa Hak Kyum Cha's Dictee.