Write a Poem!
California Poet in the Schools • Meredith Heller
Poetry Writing Workshops for Kids Who Love to Write!
NOW on ZOOM
Kids 10 & up
More classes available, just ask!
$30/class via Venmo
Watch Student Poetry Reading
My workshops are engaging, inspiring, and fun! I lead students through lively and diverse writing invitations geared to spark their imagination, conjure their thoughts and feelings, and cultivate their unique writing voice. I help them develop an eye for detail, an ear for the musicality of the written word, and a trust of their creative instincts. Students build self confidence and increase their capacity to express themselves with depth and clarity. We cultivate a community of friends who share a common passion for poetic writing and self-expression and encourage each other to dig deep and shine.
My passion is helping empower young people to speak their truth, express themselves clearly and creatively, and know that what they think and feel they matters. I draw on nature, the five senses, personal discovery, and a rich library of poets and writing invitations to evoke poetry from kids in their own voices about what most concerns and enlivens them.
Join me as we write odes to fruit and veggies, personify the seasons, embody the elements, and bring colors to life! Explore the five senses using food, spices, textures, and music. Investigate photographs, nature objects, and questions of inquiry. Delve into your relationship with your body: our hands, your hair, skin, belly! Meet me out in nature and write about what we discover there. Glean inspiration from a wide range of poets including Mary Oliver, e.e. cummings, Pablo Neruda, Sandra Cisneros, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Joy Harjo, Octavio Paz, Naomi Shihab Nye, Ruth Gendler, and more. Practice speaking your poetry out loud in solo pieces and group performances. Workshops culminate with a seasonal student poetry reading at Book Passage in Corte Madera, CA or on Zoom!
Meredith Heller is a performing poet, singer/songwriter, and educator with graduate degrees in writing and education. She studied in the graduate departments of Johns Hopkins University, Naropa University, and Goddard College. She is the author of the poetry chapbook, SONGLINES (Finishing Line Press, 2019), and two collections, River Spells (2019) and River Rebel (2020). Her new book, Write a Poem, Save Your Life! is currently under contract with New World Library. As Poet in the Schools in Boulder, CO, she taught at-risk and gifted youth. Currently, a California Poet in the Schools and Poetry Out Loud coach, Meredith teaches poetry workshops in Marin County schools, Juvenile Hall, and now on Zoom. Check out her poetry video series on YouTube for grades 1-4. She leads Moon Tribe ‘Write of Passage’ Nature Program for teen girls and Wild Women, Wicked Words for women. She teaches music & movement classes for children, coaches private guitar, voice, and songwriting for all ages, and hosts Siren Song, a women’s singer/songwriter night.
She is a frequent contributor to Rebelle Society and We’Moon. Her work has appeared in Quiet Lightning, Tiny Seed Journal, The Aquarian, Avocet, and the book, Women, Their Names, & The Stories They Tell. Her essays are published in Common Ground and Tiny House Magazines. Her song ‘Little Boy Blue’ was reviewed in American Songwriter Magazine. A nature girl who spent fifteen summers solo-backing, she hikes the trails daily and lives with a gentle footprint in a tiny cottage in Marin County, CA. She spends her free time camping and writing at the Yuba River. She is mused by nature, synchronicity, and kindred souls.
My Students’ Poems in the Marin County Poetry Anthology ~ 2020!
Beautiful like an autumn orange tulip
that is already losing its petals.
Shy like your first day of school
and you already have a super-hot new crush
that all the girls want
but you’ll get him
because you’re a fierce being.
Isolated like your soul
that nobody can touch
but your healing self.
Sad like a lonely girl
that never had any friends
and never will
but her spirit is still strong.
Angry like when you feel abandoned
by your loved ones
and you think no one
will ever hear your heartbeat again
Alive like a beaming hot fire
that wraps its flaming burning tentacles
around the air, the water, the earth, and itself.
Loving like a tiger cub
that doesn’t yet know
how to be fierce.
Forgotten like laughter
that our great grandparents lost
a long, long time ago.
Exhausted like when I come back
from a lifeless volleyball practice
and I sweat out every heartbreak.
Mikayla Gounard, Fifth grade
Lycée Français de SF, Sausalito
CHILD OF HOPE
Child of green
Child of blue
Child of lush and wild
Child who runs, and laughs and plays
While her planet and friend always smile
Child of rhythm
Child of pace
Child of clear and deep
Child whose feet thump and bound
Like a heart stirring in sleep
Child of legacies
Child of hope
Child of a world now divided
Child who together with other survivors
Will form to wake the misguided
Raney Wolfers, Eighth grade
Hall Middle School, Larkspur
anger like bite your tongue bloody, grit your teeth, and grin scarier than a frown. wet and soft until you’ve waded in neck deep and it closes in stubborn sharp. discordant notes too far apart. anger so small and pointy and then you see it’s shadow envelop you.
fear like hair rising on your neck, sweat cold and shiver chilling your body. hands clasping over the crevice, rocky bottom shrouded in clouds, bits broken as fragile and brittle as you. not the sound of the scream but the silence after. fear burrowing into your ear to whisper doubts you know too well.
guilt like dry lips, opening uneven chapped and closing into a seal of skin. crow pecking for shiny sweet fragments of memory to devour, spit out, make unclean. turning the quiet louder than the noise, drown you in a sea of voices squawking in regret. guilt behind you like a ghost, embracing you in empty depth.
hunger like empty eyes, drained of slick salty tears and heavy lids half closing. dry and hot and twisting, it begs, a desire of the whittled down holes inside your bones. when wishes on petals, eyelashes, stones all drift away leaving barren land, stripped of all but the sound of your own ravenous, halting breath. hunger anchoring itself deep in you, filling your body with breaking.
sleep like a shining face, calm and bronze with hands molded from clay, sculpted down. she’s hard for me to find but when i do she wraps me in a sweet warmth, holds still for a moment while time churns by at relentless tempo, watches the moon and stars fly past our wounded planet, returns me to earth just as the sun leaks through the window panes.
Ava Carlson, Eighth grade
Hall Middle School, Larkspur
I am a blue jay
flying in the sky
to find a worm
in a plum tree.
I am a green basil plant
leaning over the pot
digging my roots
into the fresh brown soil.
I am a hummingbird
darting down from the power lines
to the plum tree
to suck sweet nectar
out of beautiful white and pink flowers.
My wings beating as fast as lightning.
In Spring, I am the lightning
flashing up the whole sky
making the plum branches break
raining the plums
down to the ground.
Max Armel, Third grade
The New Village School, Sausalito
WHERE I’M FROM
I’m from unwrapping oily packages of Reeses candy in my shiny, hot pink nail polish
I’m from jumping on my blue and orange flowered bed until I hear a crack and hide in my closet
I’m from drinking my lightly spiced cinnamon hot chocolate in a Kermit the Frog mug
I’m from picking lemons from the tree in my yard until the thorns prick me so many times
it looks like blood freckles
I’m from sticking my head out the window of our old grey Toyota
I’m from throwing snowballs at my sister in my heated mittens that turn soggy and wet
I’m from oak wood cottages where mosquitoes bite me so hard, I turn red
I’m from watching Frozen thousands of times until I memorize all the songs
I’m from doing Tae Kwon Do in my crop shirt and letting the sweat drip down my forehead
I’m from staring at my sister’s rock collection
I’m from listening to Disney princess songs turned into hits and pop
I’m from watching my friends play basketball in a court I couldn’t go to
I’m from eating strawberries and carrots freshly picked from a farm in the country
I’m from trying to imagine a color that hasn’t yet been made and finally realizing that I can’t, and all I come up with is yellow
I’m from an obsession for guinea pigs, especially baby guinea pigs eating cucumbers
I’m from trying to type with my eyes closed on my stiff keyboard
I’m from beating my dad in chess and bragging about it to my whole family
I’m from sketching eyes with my art set, again and again, until they’re perfect
I’m from me
Kaiya Forzley, Fifth grade
Lycée Français de SF, Sausalito
Thank you for leading our creative writing classes. You have taught me so much both as a poet and a person. You have broadened my skill and imagination to a whole new level. Thank you for everything you do! ~Raney, 13
Every time Meredith walks into the room it explodes from the overload of happiness. Now we even get to do class outside sometimes. She pushes me to expand my pieces to use every sensory detail I have, so when you read it, you can transform into the story. Writing is like time traveling, if you use enough description, the person reading it will be transported into that story. I love Meredith’s class. ~Kate, 15
Meredith has taught me how to write in great detail. The prompts she comes up with are all so different and yet connected, and I’ve noticed them translating into my descriptions of life. I think that I have become a more intelligent sounding human being because of Meredith’s class. Writing has become a passion of mine. Meredith helps you to capture the imagination that your piece holds and bring its potential to life. I’ve found myself writing about the dark, the light, the mysterious, and the obvious in her class, and it’s exciting to watch my friends and I share a burning passion for this art form. ~Maisie, 15
Working with Meredith helped me become a better writer. Most importantly, she helped me feel confident in my art and helped me foster my own style. Meredith has a unique way of bringing people up and helping them recognize their own light. I am forever grateful for Meredith, both as a teacher and person. ~Katie, 17
For the past few years, I have looked forward to Writing Workshop every week with Meredith. It is a time to be creative and let my mind wander into each unique prompt, and learn a lot about myself and new skills. I’ve become more confident in writing and sharing my pieces, and I love sharing this experience with my friends. ~Alyssa, 14
Ever since 5th grade, writing with Meredith has been one of my favorite parts of the week. Writing class has expanded my view on so many types, forms, and styles of writing that I never thought possible. Meredith’s writing prompts are so mind-opening and they plant so many ideas in my mind. Writing is now a strength of mine that I am always confident in. Thank you, Meredith! ~Olivia, 14
I have to tell you that my daughter was over the moon for days after reading her piece at Book Passage. More than reading her own, it was so powerful to have girls of all ages present so that she (and we) could hear thoughts & words of older & younger kids. She’s officially hooked. Thank you so much for being a beautiful, creative, loving female force in my daughter’s life. ~Vanessa Topper, parent
Meredith has been such an inspiration! My daughters have developed a love and confidence for writing. Meredith creates a safe and fun environment so each student can truly blossom. Thank you, Meredith! ~Michelle McHugh, parent
I would first like to thank you for making these workshops happen. Hearing the poems my daughters write brings tears to my eyes each week. I cannot lie, I myself have never been presented with the opportunity to write poetry and I have not had the confidence. Each week I have the girls explain the poems they write with you in class and then I write my own. This has opened up a portal inside of me that I didn’t know existed. I am LOVING it. Thank you again for sharing your talent and beautiful energy with them!! ~Lindsay Chinapen, parent
My daughter has developed a strong passion for writing, especially poetry, thanks to Meredith’s enthusiasm, encouragement, and creativity with group discussions and assignments. Meredith has a fun, easy way of instilling confidence in her students so they can write on the spot, without inhibitions, and openly share their work with each other. She’s also a wonderful role model for our daughters, empowering them and teaching them to be kind and true to themselves. My daughter raved about the Hike & Write Adventure. You really put your heart and soul into these workshops and lifting up the girls in countless ways. I love your positive energy, it rubs off on all of us!
~Anne McCadden, parent
My husband and I are so appreciative of the way in which you empower our two girls. I’ve quoted from the “You are Not Delicate” poem to the girls countess times. Thank you for encouraging their writing and growth.
~Sonya DeForrest, parent
Meredith, you are a Muse! Thank you for how you inspire my daughter and help her bring her creativity to life. Her confidence has grown so much since she’s been in your classes. ~Chris Koons, parent
You are such an important part of my daughter’s life. Thank you! ~Danielle Walker, parent