If you are interested in exploring the development and practice of empathy, I write for you, especially if:
- your (or a parent’s) upbringing included affiliation with Christianity, whether conservative or liberal, whether you are currently a faithful member of a Christian denomination or estranged from church affiliation;
you align with another faith or spiritual tradition or practice, because I believe the underlying wisdom in all traditions is universal;
you are an ethical agnostic or atheist, or a cultural critic who questions the conditions and systems to which dogmatic and scientific methods remain blind, because I believe atheism and spirituality are not necessary mutually exclusive and ethical cultural criticism is necessary for the development of empathy.
My writing flows from a life long attention to the development of a listening awareness. It includes a reverence for the natural world, for everyone around me whether familiar or stranger, for myself and my small place within the vast universe, and for contemporary and historical literature of varied forms and genres. My purpose for writing has evolved to communicate, through poems, stories, and creative nonfiction, the unfathomable sorrow and inexplicable wonder of all of us being human together. I aim to make literature that will foster my empathy and compassion and deepen my connection with other people who are like, as well as unlike me.
In addition to writing, I am founder/director of Lyricality, an advocacy organization serving Minnesota-based poets, lyricists and their fans/patrons, as well as human service, social development, and arts organizations to foster the art of connection through poetry and song.
My current works in Progress
1) Book of Transformations: A Story for Changing Times with Poems, Practices and Prayers to Foster and Open Heart explores how poetry, prayer, and a community of women monastics serve as spiritual companions for me, while I navigate my changing relationship with my spouse during the early and middle stages of his non-Alzheimer dementia-related mild NeuroCognitive Disorder (mNCD). During the winter of 2018-19, I was accepted as a Studium scholar to work in the company of monastic scholars at Saint Benedict’s Monastery. Their conversation and feedback encouraged and inspired me.
2) a chapbook — Still Life Broken and Repaired. This collection of poems explores my changing relationship with my husband as we journey through our changes.
Artistic Training and Experience
Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a Creative Writing Emphasis, University of Minnesota, Program for Individualized Learning (PIL)
Essays and Interviews: “How St. Scholastica disempowered confirmation bias” in Spirit Life Jan/Feb 2021; “Therefore Create Silence” in Benedictines, Fall 2020; Interview on “Therefore Create Silence” in Call: Celebrating Commitment to Monastic Life, Fall 2020.
Poems: Rag Mag, Sidewalks, Ophelia’s Pale Lilies, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Essays and Journalism: The Concord Monitor, New Hampshire ToDo; The Newsleaders; Lake Country Journal. Poetry Chapbook: Relearning the Lullaby (Heywood Press, 1996)
Books: written or edited under my former pseudonym, Tracy Lee Karner, Toward Daylight, becoming a writer despite everything; Thursdays at 2; John Hope Settlement House; Without Mom, With Spina Bifida. You can read about why I used, and then stopped using, a pseudonym in this blog post–Trashing My Brand.
McKnight Foundation Award to increase print and social media presence while researching a writing a book proposal, through Artist Career Development Grant from Central Minnesota Arts Board, October 2020.
1st Place, American Benedictine Academy Monastic Essay Contest 2020, for “Therefore Create Silence.”
McKnight Foundation Award to complete a book-length creative nonfiction manuscript, through Artist Career Development Grant from Central Minnesota Arts Board, November 2018.
Pushcart Prize Nomination in Poetry for Sonnet to Negotiate Peace with Your Dementia, November 2017.
The Loft/Jerome Foundation Emerging Writers’ Award: Honorable Mention, August 2017.
Maxine Kumin’s Advanced Poetry Workshop, Warner, NH, March, 2007 — of 56 New England applicants, Kumin selected 12 poets to participate. I treasure the connections I made with those gifted poets, and with Maxine.
Dean Buchta Merit Scholarship, University of Minnesota, 1992
Split Rock Arts Program Tuition Merit Award for Poetry, 1992
Presentations, Readings & Workshops
Healing After Loss and Grief: Practices in Creative Expression: Whitney Senior Center, Saint Cloud MN, 6-session workshop for members, Summer 2021.
The Poetry of Transformation: Saint Benedict’s Monastery, St. Joseph MN, Spiritual Directors’ Inservice Presentation, October 2019
Creative Process and a Book of Transformations: Saint Benedict’s Monastery, Presentation to Studium Scholars and guests, February, 2019.
Founder/Organizer/Director of Lyricality.org.
Monthly Communal Collaborative Poetry Workshops, Warwick RI, Developer/Instructor, October 2014-December 2015
Poetry Month Celebration, The Elephant Tea Room, Warwick RI, Organizer/Reader April, 2015
Memoir Writing Workshop: Plot your Story, Warwick Senior Center, RI, Instructor, March, 2014. Linebaugh Public Library, TN, Instructor, November, 2012
Newbury Harbor’s Poetry w/ Patricia Fargnoli (NH Poet Laureate) & Friends, Reader April, 2008
Northfield Arts Guild Young Peoples’ Theater Workshop: Playwright and Instructor, July 12-31, 1992; June 6-25 & July 25-August 13, 1993
New Prague Middle School Poetry Performance Workshop: Curriculum, Instructor and Production Director, July 11-23, 1993
Faribault High School Creative Writing 15-day Seminar: Visiting Poet/Instructor, April, 1993; November, 1994
St. Olaf College: Women Poets, Reader, October, 1992
Augsburg College: Celebrating Women in the Arts, Featured Poet/Reader, May, 1992
Northfield Arts Guild Presents MN Poets, Reader, November, 1991