I’m passionate about the way that writing allows us to make sense of our lives and feel and think deeper. Helping every student hone their personal voice—and their own wisdom—is what I strive for as a teaching artist.
Through guided readings, group discussions, and writing exercises, I aim to inspire students to break open their poems and stories on the page. I enjoy working with writers of all ages but hold a special affinity for projects with older adults. Through the Artful Aging program, I offer classes and camps in poetry, fiction and life writing/memoir. I also offer poetry workshops for individuals with memory loss. In these classes, we use rhythm, repetition, and well-loved poetry classics to develop our own original thoughts and lines.
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I’ve been teaching writing in the community since 2000. I’ve worked in libraries, elementary schools, college classrooms, and adult day centers. I have an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota, and I’m the recipient of three fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board. My full-length poetry collection, Borrowed Wave, was published by Kore Press in 2015. See rachelmoritz.com for more information.
Participants will dip their hands—and hearts and minds—into writing poetry, memoir and short stories, learning some essentials for each of these styles of creative writing along the way. This is a great class for individuals open to learning new techniques and trying their hands at a little bit of everything. We’ll begin by exploring the way poetry calls us to use the best words and images to capture our experiences. Next, we’ll try out writing life stories in prose, with an eye to fleshing out a few scenes that feel important to share on the page. Finally, we’ll explore the fun of very short fiction, including character development, plot and description.
Class or Camp
Poetry & Memory
Participants will write from key life memories, following the poet Stanley Kunitz’s idea that “Memory is everybody’s poet-in-residence.” We’ll begin each class by reading a sample poem exploring memory in a different light: as story, as question, as gift or difficulty. We’ll talk about the ways that our memories shift as we grow and change. And we’ll use freewriting—a technique to keep our pens moving and capture words as they come—to explore several important memories that engage us today, whether from childhood or our adult live. Along the way we’ll explore some essentials of free verse poetry, including the role of image, rhythm, and the line. The poems we develop will reflect the way memory and poetry make natural companions.
Class or camp
Self Portraits: Writing Your Life in Poetry
Participants will create a series of poems based on their changing sense of self over time and life experience. Inspired by group discussions, guided readings and writing exercises, participants will recall key moments that have defined their lives. We’ll work from photographs, family stories and unique forms—like a “life resume”—to capture how we’ve seen ourselves at different points in our lives. Along the way we’ll explore some essentials of free verse poetry, including the role of image, rhythm, and the line.
Class or camp
The Writer’s Toolkit: Poetry
I shape this residency around essential creative tools in every writer’s “toolkit,” with the goal of empowering kids to use their own voices and jump into writing with maximum fun and inspiration! Each day, we focus on a specific aspect of the toolkit, from the way we use our bodies (the five senses) to write our world, to the “zoom-in” camera of detail like color, size or shape. Over the course of the week, we read and try out different kinds of poems, including list poems, question poems, self-portrait poems, and poems that use powerful comparisons (simile and metaphor) to make us feel something in a new way. The residency culminates with playful tips on how to read our poems out loud and lots of time for sharing. The Writer’s Toolkit: Poetry can be adapted to specific grade-level curriculum such as Reading and Writing benchmarks.
This 1-2 hour workshop for learners of any age involves call-and-response recitation of well-loved poems and builds to the creation of a group poem at the end of the session. The format can be adapted for multiple groups, including a longer 8-session series of intergenerational workshops divided between a school or youth group and a partner senior care facility.
In Our Voices: Poetry for Memory Care
In this series of workshops, I bring the art of oral recitation in poetry to individuals with memory loss or dementia. These rhythmic, high-energy and playful sessions are based around a theme, begin with call-and-response readings of poems, and progress to storytelling through poetic lines, which are captured on an easel in front of the group. We end our class by reciting and performing our group poem together. Long-term residencies culminate in the creation of an original chapbook that captures participant voices.
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