The Poetry of Transformation

Muriel Rukeyser on poetry as a weapon against hate

By Tracy Rittmueller | February 2, 2018

In her 1949 book, The Life of Poetry, Muriel Rukeyser indicates what motivated her to make poems: “Writing is only another way of giving, a courtesy, if you will, and a form of love.” Rukeyser was perhaps as well known for her political activism as for her poetry. Living through the death and destruction of two World Wars, living with those wars’ after effects–chaos, confusion, disillusionment, and fear– Muriel Rukeyser made a clear choice. She chose for love, against hate.   The Poetry Foundation includes these details in its biography of Muriel Rukeyser: In the 1930s Rukeyser attended Vassar College …

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Gailand MacQueen on the spirituality of mazes and labyrinths

By Tracy Rittmueller | January 10, 2018

The Spirituality Center at Saint Benedict’s monastery in St. Joseph, Minnesota, has a labyrinth, which I am preparing to walk soon for personal and professional reasons. I suppose I could just drive over there tomorrow and walk it, but that’s not how I take journeys. I read up on the places I’m going because it prepares me to experience them more openly, which is to say, more deeply. One of the books I’m reading now is Gailand MacQueen’s The Spirituality of Mazes and Labyrinths (2005). Are you a labyrinth or maze kind of person? Labyrinth People: are traditionalists; seek simplicity; …

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Epiphany: a collaborative poem for the sixth of January by Almut Furchert and me

By Tracy Rittmueller | January 6, 2018

Epiphany commemorates the visit of the Magi, or wise men who visited the infant child, whom the angels in Luke’s Christmas story announced as “a Savior, Christ the Lord.” They came bearing precious gifts. They were guided by a star to a divine manifestation, an awe-inspiring spiritual experience, the moment of aha—at last I see! This poem arrived today.   EPIPHANY: A COLLABORATIVE POEM FOR THE SIXTH OF JANUARY Beloved one the Divine wills through you to be born here now ever anew no matter how shabby your stable. by Almut Furchert with Tracy Rittmueller 1/6/2018 The poem came at the …

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Are you a poet, too?

By Tracy Rittmueller | January 3, 2018

I feel as if I’ve hauled my sweaty-palmed, embarrassed self to my first P.A. support group, dreading the moment…ugh..now it’s my turn. Inhale. Close my eyes. Exhale. Open my eyes. Scan the room. Say it. Hi, I’m Tracy and I’m a poet. The reason this is a difficult admission for me? Often I’d prefer to be nobody, like the narrator in Emily Dickinson’s poem I’m nobody! Who are you?   Are you – a Poet – Too? In the late 1980’s when I first began thinking of myself as a poet, I went public. I enjoyed reading before an audience, I published …

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Photo via Visualhunt.com

Trashing My Brand: in rejection of the insane trend toward the monetization of everything

By Tracy Rittmueller | August 20, 2017

I can’t remember why branding myself with a reader-friendly, easily pronounceable name seemed important. This past year, while living and learning among an intentional community of like-minded, kind-hearted people I discovered that there is one thing I must bring to the community, and thereby to the world, that fulfills my life’s (and my writing’s) purpose–Authenticity. Karner isn’t the last name on my driver’s license or medical records. I used to believe that being individually successful was an important goal in life. Now a renewed conviction–that authenticity within a stable relationship to community is essential for a meaningful life–has replaced former beliefs and fears. …

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Let's Get Political; Let Me Hear Your Wisdom Talk!

By Tracy Rittmueller | August 13, 2017

Yes, this headline is a parody of the vacuous 1981 Olivia Newton John hit song, Let’s Get Physical. And yes, this might be a questionable way to headline the most serious-as-a-heart-attack post I’ve ever attempted to write. So maybe a better title to this, my gut-reaction to the recent, sickening news coming out of Charlottesville, Virginia would be: Everything is Questionable so Let’s Question Everything. Another way to say this is: People! Let’s Get our Heads out of our Ignorant, Self-Righteous, Belligerent Butts and Make it our Civic Duty to Define, Address, and Find Solutions to our Actual Problems!  (Yes, I’m addressing We the …

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Susan Thurston's "Sister of Grendel": a cultural critique of the epic hero

By Tracy Rittmueller | August 1, 2017

“And I have at last accounted for this last part of my story.” Beowulf’s voice surrounds me, and his image again appears whole before me. Beowulf the warrior reaches out his hand as if to touch me. I extend mine toward him. “Which causes more pain, I wonder. The words unsaid or the words not said well enough?” Susan Thurston, Sister of Grendel A re-imagining of the Beowulf epic Early 1980’s: the Dynasty women, the Dallas woman, and Princess Diana were wearing shoulder pads and feathered hair. Our radios blared Blondie’s Call Me, or Queen’s Another One Bites the Dust. …

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Tracy Lee Karner

On Blurring Genres and Other Divides

By Tracy Rittmueller | July 13, 2017

“Memoirs are just one form of word delivery. It’s all inquiry, expression, a search to connect. To honestly recognize our mortal selves in others.” Marc Nieson (Schoolhouse) A few weeks ago I thought Steven Petite was spot-on in explaining that the distinction between genre and literary fiction is based on the kind of experience the reader is seeking. If a novel’s purpose is for entertainment/escape — it’s genre fiction. If its purpose is, as Marc Nieson phrased it, to help us “honestly recognize our mortal selves in others”– it’s literary fiction. In the comments section of my last post, Pamela S. Wight …

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Tracy Lee Karner

Who does and does not read literary fiction?

By Tracy Rittmueller | June 29, 2017

In essence, the best Genre Fiction contains great writing, with the goal of telling a captivating story to escape from reality. Literary Fiction is comprised of the heart and soul of a writer’s being, and is experienced as an emotional journey through the symphony of words, leading to a stronger grasp of the universe and of ourselves. Steven Petite, Huff Post A survey by the National Endowment for the Arts reports less than 50% of Americans have read at least one novel, play or poem within the past 12 months. So, American readers of fiction are a minority. And according …

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Tracy Seeley on choosing to love where we live

By Tracy Rittmueller | May 4, 2017

“Recovering my fluency in Kansas things, I talked recipes, quilts, and weather with some people, books and poetry with others. I met populists and democrats, poets and farmers, Lutherans and agnostics, and a lot of people who not only loved where they lived but had chosen it.” Tracy Seeley How to be at home “How much larger your life would be if your self could become smaller in it,” G. K. Chesterton observed in his autobiography Orthodoxy: The Romance of Faith, (first published in 1908) in which he addresses the problem, “How can we contrive to be at once astonished …

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