I’m passionate about the way writing allows us to make sense of our lives and feel and think more deeply. Helping every student hone their personal voice—and their own creative power—is what I strive for as a teaching artist.
Through guided readings, group discussions, and writing exercises, I aim to inspire students of all ages to break open their poems and stories on the page. Through the Artful Aging program, I offer classes and camps in poetry, creative writing, and life writing/memoir. I also offer poetry workshops for individuals with memory loss or other cognitive challenges. In these energetic classes, we use call and response recitation as well as play, music and sensory props to elicit and express original poetic lines. Through the Creative Classroom program, I offer a residency for early and upper elementary with a focus on poetry “toolkit” exercises that build writing skills and deepen creativity.
Book This Artist
I’ve been teaching writing in the community since 2000, and I’ve worked in libraries, elementary and middle schools, correctional facilities, adult day centers, and college classrooms. The recipient of fellowships from the Minnesota State Arts Board and the Jerome Foundation, I earned an MFA in creative writing from the University of Minnesota. My full-length poetry collection, Borrowed Wave, was a finalist for the 2015 Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. My second collection, Sweet Velocity, was published in 2017. See rachelmoritz.com for more information.
Participants will write from the well of memory and from life and family stories--a genre otherwise known as memoir. We'll try a variety of writing exercises designed to explore the memoirist’s tools. Our goal will be to assemble a series of life sketches, which can be compiled toward a memoir or legacy book. Each class will be designed around a theme and a writing prompt to spark imagination. Writers of all backgrounds and abilities welcome; no prior experience necessary.
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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