workshops

 

Rachelle frequently offers creative writing workshops and craft talks to teenagers and adults through organizations such as Just Buffalo Literary Center, Juniper Institute for Young Writers, and Sevilla Writers House. Recent or upcoming workshops include:

  • The Turn: Every piece of good writing—whether a poem, short story, essay, novel, tweet, or TikTok—requires setup and payoff. The moment the text begins to pay is called the turn, and we rely on these shifts in tone or thought to surprise our readers and keep them engaged. In this craft session, we’ll study different kinds of turns—from the sonnet’s volta to the essay’s pivot—and how they work to open up a piece of writing by allowing it to change its terms. (Juniper Institute for Young Writers)

  • Everyday Writing and Sheltering in Place: Surprise and spontaneity have receded from our daily experiences since early 2020. As we shelter in place and shift our experiences of work and play online, where encounters are predetermined and continuously fine-tuned by algorithms, how can we find the whimsy and chance we need to draw art from our everyday lives? In this workshop, we study how writing can come from routine and rote activities, and experiment with bringing those ideas to digital landscapes, interactions, and media. We’ll play with news headlines, search histories, memes, hashtags, and more to reimagine the internet rabbit hole as the everyday poet’s walk. We’ll look at work across genres that draws on marginalia and is grounded in everyday experiences, texts, and observations—from Frank O’Hara’s Lunch Poems to Sheila Heti’s excel-sheet journals—and discuss how to adapt these techniques to spark new writing of our own. Participants will learn how to eavesdrop, excerpt, and effectively steal language from the world around us—whether IRL or online and at home—and will leave with a poem, story, creative essay, or other piece of writing crafted from collages of the everyday. (Juniper Institute for Young Writers)

  • Beginning at the End: Deciding where to break the line can transform the meaning, rhythm, and impact of a poem. In this workshop, we’ll look at some of the most common ways to break the line in free verse, study their effects, and experiment with them to reimagine poems of our own. (Just Buffalo Literary Center, Sevilla Writers House)

  • Teachers Are Writers: In collaboration with Western New York Network of English Teachers, Just Buffalo Literary Center offers this workshop series for school teachers and educators so they will have the opportunity to explore their own creative work, engage in ongoing conversations about process, and grow as writers. (Just Buffalo Literary Center)

  • Poems Out Loud: There's writing, and then there's the performance of writing. Capturing an audience's attention comes with its own set of challenges—but it can be fun, too. Whether reading for a live audience or digitally over Zoom, how can our voices stand out? In this workshop, we'll examine the reading styles of a variety of great poets and practice performing styles of our own. (Just Buffalo Literary Center)

  • Eavesdropping, Excerpts, and Everyday Poetry: In this workshop, we bring together poetry and eavesdropped exchanges. Participants will learn how to effectively steal language from the living world around them, and will leave with a poem crafted from collages of excerpted conversations and everyday observations. (Just Buffalo Literary Center)

  • Broken Essays: In this workshop, we explore the technique of collage in crafting fragmented memoir. Participants will combine collected found text with fragments of their own writing to give shape to nonlinear personal essays. (Just Buffalo Literary Center)

  • Wearable Poetry: Ever loved a poem so much you wanted to wear it? In this workshop, we explore the relationship between what we say and what we wear. Participants will learn about the history of embroidery as a woman's art of resistance alongside the contemporary ways we wear words, and leave the session with pieces of clothing showcasing their own workshopped and embroidered micro-poems. (Just Buffalo Literary Center)

Visit events for upcoming workshop dates, or contact Rachelle at rtoarmino@gmail.com to book her to teach for your organization.

academia

As an MFA candidate at UMass Amherst, Rachelle teaches literature seminars and composition classes to undergraduates through the university's MFA for Poets & Writers and Writing Program.

  • Living Writers: Living Writers is a course in contemporary writing and contemporary writers offered to undergraduates through UMass Amherst's MFA for Poets & Writers. Students read the work of contemporary writers, including those selected for the term's Visiting Writers Series, and write critical and creative responses. A unique feature of Living Writers is the opportunity to ask writers questions about their work and about their experiences as artists during lectures—each author will visit class for an extended Q&A with students. One of the key issues students consider throughout the class is how authors and their works both respond to and are products of contemporary culture, how these creations relate to contemporary music, film, politics, and other aspects of the time in which we live.

  • College Writing: College Writing is a college-level writing course offered through UMass Amherst's Writing Program designed to give students practice in meeting the literacy demands of their academic, professional, civic, and personal lives. The goal of this course is to help students develop their abilities to write—not only for their classes but also for broader personal, civic, and professional purposes. College Writing is based on the assumption that students are already writers and that writing is an activity that is tied to its social context.

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