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Cecilia Pinto '81

Chicago, Illinois

Major in Creative Writing

Cecilia's novella won the 2020 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize.

Cecilia Pinto '81

Can you describe your experience as a fiction writer? What does that entail? How did the opportunity come about?

I have an MFA in writing from The School of the Art Institute which I received in my 30s. It was a wonderful experience and allowed me to feel that any and all possibilities in writing are available so I write in a variety of genres and have published poems, essays, and fiction. The short story genre is my favorite.

How did you become a teacher? Did you anticipate this when you started at Knox?

I have been a teaching artist for more than 20 years. I began working with young students through The Chicago Poetry Center. I have taught in-school, out-of-school, and after school. I've also worked with adults in a variety of settings. I didn't anticipate teaching until I was offered a job by a friend from graduate school. I've loved it since the first day. Currently, I am on the creative writing faculty at The Chicago High School for the Arts (ChiArts). It’s my dream job!

What, would you say, is the relationship between your writing and your teaching?

The beauty of teaching is that you are always learning. You learn through conversation and community with your students. Learning more about a poem or a novelist, so that I can discuss that information with students, benefits me as a writer.

You recently won the 2020 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize. Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about the novella that was recognized?

The Clay Reynolds Novella Prize is offered annually by Texas Review Press. The novella, Imagine the Dog, concerns a man who believes he has been called to impersonate Jesus in order to bring light and love to those around him. It doesn’t go exactly as planned.

How did your experiences at Knox prepare you for the worlds of publishing and teaching? Was there anyone in particular that guided or helped you?

In general, a liberal arts education gives you the tools to problem solve. I don't know all the answers, but thanks to my education, I do have confidence that I can figure things out, most of the time. In terms of specific teachers, I'd like to recognize Sam Moon, Bill Brady, and Robin Metz—really, the whole English department at that time—for their patience and kindness.

What extracurricular activities, if any, did you participate in at Knox?

I worked on Catch and was a member of Nancy and the Sluggoes, a short-lived but excellent softball team.

Why is Knox important to you?

I arrived at Knox in my third year of college and finally felt like I was in the right place. I had good learning experiences, met my husband there, had lots of fun, and made friendships that continue to this day.

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Printed on Wednesday, April 24, 2024