About Me

Welcome! I’m Tracy Rittmueller…

I was thirteen, riding in the back seat of my parents’ used, maroon 1967 Cadillac Coupe Deville, when I experienced my first ardent need to make my experience comprehensible to another. We were traveling through a monotone landscape—mile after mile of freshly plowed, black fields fringed with melting snow—when we approached a grove of trees. “Green,” I thought, but then I noticed a myriad of variations: emerging golden-green and rose-green leaves; gray-green and forest-green conifers’ needles; Kelly green grass and blue green weeds. My eyes couldn’t stop looking. 

My understanding of green became richer, the way wine becomes more sumptuous after you learn to swirl, sip and swish like a connoisseur—every sensory organ alert, mind focused. Previously, the word green had conjured only a fat, basic crayon. My awakening—that first discernment of nuance—gave me such sheer delight I shouted, “Look! Look at all the green!” 

No one else in the car was impressed. I tried to tell them. No one understood. So I began my lifelong journey as a writer who uses the tools of poetry to communicate, through poems and creative nonfiction, the inexplicable wonder and unfathomable sorrow of being human. 

Now in my fourth decade as a creative writer, I have recently entered a period of synthesis and focus. My desire and motivation to produce creative writing have intensified. I’ve experienced a tantalizing glimpse into how everything I’ve learned supports my vision for creative writing as a bridge-building, relational, peacemaking tool. This begins, of course, with making peace with all the disparate selves of my psyche, and with my relatives, friends, acquaintances, and neighbors. I write to reconcile. 

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. Today 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, and unlike me.

My current works in Progress

1) Book of Transformations: Poetry. Spirituality. Love. is a memoir about how poetry and a community of women monastics  served as spiritual companions for me, while I navigated my changing relationship with my spouse during the early and middle stages of his non-Alzheimer dementia. 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 encouragde me to explore my themes more broadly, deeply, professionally, artistically, and ethically.

2) a chapbook — Still Life Broken and Repaired. This collection of poems explores my changing relationship with my husband as we journey through his dementia.

Artistic Training and Experience


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


English, German


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 everythingThursdays at 2; John Hope Settlement House; Without Mom, With Spina BifidaYou can read about why I used, and then stopped using, a pseudonym in this blog post–Trashing My Brand.

Presentations, Readings & Workshops

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 a collaborative of poets & patrons who foster community through poetry by facilitating mutual compassion and shared delight.

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


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

In continuing to write this blog:

I will favor my core values, which I am learning to live more authentically in my journey as a Benedictine Oblate:

  • Listening,
  • Humility,
  • Silence,
  • Hospitality,
  • Helpfulness,
  • Reverence,
  • Faithfulness to the practice of a Benedictine way of life.

I believe the universe is comprised of both material/visible and supernatural/invisible realities.

I explore both the “seen and unseen” through essay and poetry.

I believe the acceptance of all reality adds richness and meaning to our lives, supplying necessary wisdom for us to become as beautifully loving–as exquisitely wonderful–as each of us was made to be.

Your presence here honors me. Thank you for stopping by.


33 thoughts on “About Me”

  1. I have had chronic severe pain for 13 yrs with no hope for a cure. I also have been mostly bed ridden for yrs although not many people know that. I have a determination to hike at least 1 section maybe more of the Appalachian trail in 2014, God willing I will rise from my bed like a phoenix ,strengthen my withered legs and prepare all this year to go. I do not know what the future holds but I can no longer live this way. I would rather die in God’s creation than waste to nothing in bed. I want to leave a legacy of hope and determination for my kids, grand kids and other sufferers. Thank you for hearing me out. Katya

    1. Thank you for sharing what’s on your mind and heart. I applaud your courage and determination, Katya. As you know, I personally have experienced and understand the hidden nature of your affliction.

      Even now, I have difficult days, and when people see me, they tell me I look “great” (while I might be feeling like I’m about to keel over!)

      Your goal is reasonable–I wish you all the best.

  2. Love that you do what you love! I made a major change earlier this year so that now I can do what I love too (as opposed to doing what I don’t love, which used to take most of my time and energy). Thanks for stopping by and following Life Through the Kitchen Window. I’m looking forward to following your blog too!

    1. It’s awesome when people find the courage to make changes (change is always difficult, I think) to make life more fulfilling. I’m looking forward to getting to know you better, and to being inspired by your recipes.

    1. I”m not sure I’m a health-food nut–but I do try to eat very healthy (whole foods, balanced nutrition, made-from-scratch whenever feasible, local…)

      and I’m definitely on a budget. We eat very well for very cheap.

      Thanks for stopping by! I’m looking forward to getting to know you.

      1. Well you are close to being a health food nut anyway I am retired so my budget is in play as well. I am looking forward to knowing you as well. I need to follow your site and see where you and your foods take me.

  3. I think I’m going to enjoy following your blog. Be warned, while I will read your content, I hardly ever hit ‘like’ and that’s not because I’m some sort of critic but, rather, that I don’t want to be included in these groups: “lazy likers” and “people who don’t read your stuff but hit like on your blog so you’l visit theirs.” I will comment from time to time, though 🙂 Know what? I’m from NL, CA and love it very much but if I did have to pick somewhere else it would be New England so it certainly makes sense when you say that you love it!

    1. Yes, I did know that you’re from NL–I ended up at your blog because Jenny in England sent me over, when I told her that although I don’t have a “bucket list” (too much pressure!), I do have an inexplicable desire to visit all the Maritime Provinces, especially NL. I don’t know anyone else who has ever said they long to visit NL. Most of the people around here don’t even know what or where it is.

      P.S. I never pay any attention to likes on my blog, although I do hit the button on other blogs at times, but only when I’ve actually read the post and actually liked it.

  4. Hi Tracy – I just started blogging for Fresh Catch Seafood, Butcher Shops & Restaurants (based in Mansfield, MA). I would like to use the photo of you clamming in a Fresh Catch blog post – and also link to your post on clamming in the post. Would that be all right? Thanks. ross

  5. Hi Tracy. I found you through your interview with K Pooler. I have a blog where I write fiction, memoir, and interview interesting people. I write about how I see the world as a visually impaired woman. I hope to get into travel writing/blogging one day and have a bucket list of things I hope to experience. I would love to interview you for a feature I call Travel Tuesdays or just for anything else. My blog can be found at: http://www.kkherheadache.wordpress.com and if you would consent, I would love to speak to you further about English literature and creative writing, fiction or non-fiction, or memoir and travel writing. Thanks.

  6. Hi Tracey – hoping all is well with you. I am once again in blog ‘catch up’ mode and was going to leave comments on your last couple of posts, but see that comments are closed. Are you not accepting comments on your blog anymore? At any rate, I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next! Cheers, Marlene

    1. I’m glad, too. Found you through Sherri’s blog–you commented “I live in New England now” and just as I was about to type something about New England and loving tea, I saw your comment. Yes, we do have a lot in common!

  7. Comments are closed on your peachy post, but I wanted to compliment you on the amazing photos and timely tips. Like Shirley, I was happy to read about the peach skinning trick.

    I’ve just had lunch. Peach cobbler would be the perfect finish!

    1. Quite some time ago, when I set up my blog, I closed comments on posts after 3 weeks. I’m not sure why I did that! Thanks for reminding me of my old decision, and I’ve reconsidered it. Comments are now unclosed.

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