The 2022 Frederick Buechner Prize Winner: Blackberries


I’m grateful to announce my essay, “Blackberries,” has won the 2022 Frederick Buechner Prize for Creative Non-Fiction at Yale Divinity School.

The essay details my year working as a chaplain in a Level I Trauma Center during the Covid crisis. I ended that year myself sick and injured, and limped back to Divinity School to start a second Master’s degree. Once back, I chose my courses not so much based on my academic interests but on healing.

I took a course called Sabbath (my whole being needed Sabbath) and a course on the Hebrew Bible taught by a kind and pastoral (and brilliant) professor, Jacqueline Vayntrub. The second semester I had the great privilege of being accepted into poet Christian Wiman’s Creative Non-Fiction class. In his class, scattered, broken vignettes of poetry I had tried to write coalesced into a story about God’s presence in deep suffering.

The pain that procured this piece was transformed by my therapist who processed with me weekly in 2020 and 2021, by the chaplains––some of them mentioned in the piece––who worked beside me, and by the professors at Yale Divinity School who helped reacquaint me with the living.

You can read “Blackberries” here: https://www.lettersjournal.com/blackberries/. Be sure to check out the other beautiful work published in this issue of the Yale Letters Journal.

I would love to hear your feedback in the comments.

Peace and Joy,

Misty Kiwak Jacobs

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