Sauk Rapids poet creates group to connect writers in central Minnesota

Poetry has always been a constant in the life of Tracy Rittmueller.

The Sauk Rapids poet grew up in southeast Minnesota, and after living 25 years out of state, she returned out of a deep love for the area. Two and a half years ago, she assembled a group to explore what she could do to uplift local writers and poets, especially in central Minnesota.

“We have literally one of the best literary cultures in America. It’s, as far as I’m concerned, as good as New York, as good as California. We don’t have the national press because we are. in that flyover area, you know. They just aren’t paying attention, “she said.” So I felt it was our job in Minnesota to be careful. “

Since then, his organization, Lyricality, has grown, working on several different fronts to foster empathy and connectivity in Minnesota through words.

Tracy Rittmueller and Kelly Travis discuss Lyricality's upcoming plans on Friday, September 17, 2021 at the Spice of Life Tea Shop in downtown St. Cloud.

Every Sunday, their free online journal shares a song or poem written by a Minnesota writer with its over 100 subscribers. Since its inception, over 100 local writers have been featured.

LyricaliTea Circles provide a space for writers from Benton, Sherburne, Stearns, and Wright counties to share their work, get feedback, and make meaningful connections with the literary community. And partnerships with local organizations like the Paramount Center for the Arts, the Great River Regional Library, Books Revisited, and the Central Minnesota Arts Board further strengthen their programming.

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Poetry as a communication tool

“The truth is that poetry is something that we tend to be afraid of as a culture. People feel like they don’t know enough about poetry to understand it, or it looks like some kind of elite. . [Like] you have to be a member of the Weird Poets Club to get it, or have the glossary that tells you what to do with it, “Rittmueller said.” But in fact, when the really important moments in our lives happen – births, celebrations, weddings, deaths, departures, weddings, people ask for poetry. “

Rittmueller said part of his mission is to help people see poetry as a tool of communication.

“One way or another, poetry works beyond the level of language, with rhythm, sound, imagery and metaphor and all the wonderful tools of poetry, to touch us at the center of. art and heart and opening our consciousness to our connections, ”she said. “These are the moments that unite us. I mean, everyone is born, everyone dies, everyone falls in love… We all know that the important thing is an integral part of our life cycle and our journey. And poetry approaches these things in a way that helps us see our common humanity, the beauty and fear of being human. “

Tracy Rittmueller and Kelly Travis discuss Lyricality's upcoming plans on Friday, September 17, 2021 at the Spice of Life Tea Shop in downtown St. Cloud.

Poetry helped Rittmueller see the world in a different way, and says that the sound, joy, and beauty of poetry opened a new window to life for him. Not only did this make her more curious, but it helped her meet a group of “amazing, empathetic, cool people.”

“It’s like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz when everything turns colors,” she said. “It’s poetry.”

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Bridging the gap

The literary scene in central Minnesota is very different from that of Minneapolis and St. Paul, due to a variety of factors, Rittmueller said. On the one hand, the population of central Minnesota is more widely dispersed, so it is difficult to get together physically, although pandemic technology has brought people closer together.

At the end of this month, Lyricality will assemble a book sales leadership circle at the Minnesota Street Market in St. Joseph to foster literary culture here, involving local publishers and writers in the process. Rittmueller says she wants to stock books at the market to uplift published writers who aren’t able to afford to have their books sold in traditional bookstores.

Other plans for the future include working with Spice of Life Tea Shop to develop teas inspired by local poems, publishing an annual anthology that features poets from Minnesota, and participating in James’ Safe Spaces initiative. Albert to foster open and honest conversations about important issues at St. Cloud. .

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Anisa Hagi-Mohamed, a writer and designer from St. Cloud who sits on Lyricality’s board, says there is a lot of untapped talent here, especially in the Somali community.

“I’m always looking for ways to get out of our community and connect with other poets,” she said. “We always talk about how we can all celebrate our differences and get to know each other a little bit more through our work, and so when I heard about what Tracy was doing, I was like, ‘Yeah, I am on board. ‘”

Tracy Rittmueller and Kelly Travis are part of the Lyricality collective's management circle.  They are pictured on Friday September 17, 2021 at the Spice of Life Tea Shop in downtown St. Cloud.

Local writer and St. Cloud State University professor emeritus Bill Meissner said poetry is generally a very lonely art, especially during a pandemic when there aren’t as many public events.

Meissner submitted a poem from one of his alumni for publication in Lyricality’s Sunday Journal and said his student was “thrilled with this, I think this was his first publication.”

“It’s really important because all poets need some kind of support,” Meissner said. “It is difficult to meet or know other people who write and develop their art in the area.”

Becca Most is an urban reporter for the St. Cloud Times. Contact her at 320-241-8213 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @becca_most.

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