About Tracy

I believe this:

  • Whether you think of yourself as a conservative or liberal Christian, whether you are currently a faithful member of a denomination or estranged from church affiliation, we can understand and support each other on a journey of creativity, transformation, and the development of radical empathy.
  • No matter which faith tradition or spiritual practice you bring to your living, we share a common love of universal wisdom and we can respect, listen to, and learn from each other.
  • The perspectives of all ethically-minded people contribute to a holistic understanding of what it means to be human. No matter what you believe about religion and faith, we can work together to foster peace and justice through the practice of radical empathy.

About Tracy Rittmueller


Tracy Rittmueller's Artistic Training and Experience


Bachelor of Arts in English Literature with a Creative Writing Emphasis, University of Minnesota, Program for Individualized Learning (PIL)

Doctorate of Philosophy (PhD) in Perservance, School of Hard Knocks, Life (SHKL)


English, German


Articles, Essays & 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; "Made from the Heart" profile of Bud Larsen, Hardanger fiddle maker Lake Country Journal (LCJ) Dec-Jan 2019-2020; Community Development Profile of Crosby, MN "The Starfish Effect" LCJ Aug-Sep 2019; Author Profile: "Susan Schaefer Davis" LCJ April-May 2019; "Japanese-Inspired Lake Home Represents the Marriage of Two Diverse Cultures" LCJ, Feb-Mar 2019); "World Traveling Chef Peter Lowe Comes Home to Aitkin" LCJ, Dec-Jan 2018-19; "Green Fair Folk Festival Plants hope for the future" Lake Country Journal (LCJ), Aug-Sep 2018;  Freelance Arts and Culture Reporter for The Newsleaders of Sartell and St. Joseph, 2016-2020; "Making Fine Furniture: You Can Do It!" NHTD, Feb 2009; "Franconia and Sugar Hill: You're Going to Love it There!" NHTD, July 2008; "Through the Eyes of an Artist: Your New View of the World" (Profile of artist Sissi Shattuck) in New Hampshire ToDo (NHTD), Nov 2007.

Poems: Rag Mag, Sidewalks, Ophelia’s Pale Lilies, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily. Poetry Chapbook: Relearning the Lullaby (Heywood Press, 1995)

Books: written or edited under my former pseudonym, Tracy Lee Karner, Toward Daylight, becoming a writer despite everythingThursdays at 2John Hope Settlement HouseWithout 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 and 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. Co-facilitating in August.
Shout in the Wind Poetry Day: cohost with Art in Motion on the Lake Wobegon Trail, Holdingford MN, May 16, 2021.
Moderator of an Evening with Louise K. Waakaa'igan: with guest poets Heid E. Erdrich, Su Hwang, and Paige Riehl, for Lyricality in collaboration with Great River Regional Library, Saint Cloud MN, April 8, 2021.
Collaborative Communal Poetry Workshop: 
English language class for adult Somali Immigrants to the United States, La Cruz Community Center, Saint Cloud, MN, January 2021.
Moderator of an Evening with Su Hwang:  for Lyricality in collaboration with Great River Regional Library, Saint Cloud MN, Oct 28, 2020.
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

Current Works in Progress

All of my current work focuses the healing power of creative expression and the necessity of empathy to foster healing.

I'm finishing a book with the working title  Duties of the Spirit: The Art of Radical Empathy and Why We Must Practice It. The development of empathy is a personal and collective responsibility for all of us, and I present what I have learned through research and practice about when we can welcome and surrender to empathy, and how we might transform ego into empathy.

The book grew out of my association with a community of 200 women monastics and nearly 400 associates, who served as spiritual companions for me and offered practical support when I began navigating my changing relationship with my spouse during the early and middle stages of his non-Alzheimer dementia-related mild NeuroCognitive Disorder (mNCD). My Benedictine community demonstrated the multi-layered practice of empathy and showed me how to live in ways that foster greater peace.

In late 2018-19, I became a Studium scholar, working in the company of monastic scholars at Saint Benedict's Monastery. Supported by a McKnight foundation grant administered by the Central Minnesota Arts Board, I was there to write nonfiction essays exploring how the practices common to monastics and poets make our lives meaningful and beautiful. After I completed that book of creative narrative nonfiction, much conversation and feedback, particularly in consultation with Jane Friedman, encouraged and inspired me to build on that work to make a more far-reaching book of ideas, to serve individuals and organizations who want concrete strategies and practices to foster authentic--radical, sustainable, and irreversible-- transformation.

Meanwhile, my inner Poetry Geek and I continue to write poems. I'm in the process of assembling a small collection (a chapbook) of poems exploring the themes of memory, loss, fragmentation, and the art of golden repair (Kintsugu).