In this one-day seminar, led by novelist and poet Moriel Rothman-Zecher, we will focus on both reading and writing poetry and fiction that deal with themes of grief and surrender. We will begin with an open discussion of what role writing poetry and fiction can play in grieving and what role grief can play in our art-making. In other words, we will examine the two-directional street of transforming “my pain” into a part of “the pain,” and “my suffering” into a part of “the suffering.”
We will read a number of short texts together in class, including work by Naomi Shihab Nye, Jalalludin Rumi, Mark Nepo, and Kathleen Collins. We will also do a number of generative writing exercises, focused around the themes of grief and surrender.
There will be opportunities (but no expectation) to share newly created drafts and reflections on these exercises in class, and students will leave with the beginnings of drafts that they can continue working with outside of class, as well as with connections to other writers working on related themes.
This class is particularly geared toward fiction writers and poets of all levels of experience.
Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the desktop client so you have access to all platform features.
Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.
- Wielding our writing to address grief
- Allowing our grief to impact our writing
- Allowing a sense of surrender to guide our art
- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes
No preparation needed—all readings and exercises will be done in class as a group.
10:00-10:30: Introductions, hopes & overview
10:30-11:00: Reading set 1 (Nepo and Nye) & writing exercise 1
11:00-11:30: Sharing, reflections & discussion
11:50-12:20: Reading set 2 (Collins and Rumi) & writing exercise 2
12:20-12:45: Sharing, reflections & discussion
Moriel Rothman-Zecher is the author of the novel Sadness Is a White Bird, which was a recipient of the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 Under 35’ Honor, and a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, among other honors. Moriel is the recipient of a 2020 MacDowell Fellowship in Literature, and his work has been published in Barrelhouse, The Common, The New York Times, The Paris Review’s Daily, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. He lives in Yellow Springs, Ohio, with his family. His second novel, Before All the World, is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus and Giroux on October 11, 2022. Read more at morielrothmanzecher.com.
"Moriel's class exceeded all my expectations. I went into it unsure how to get back on track with my novel manuscript, and I emerged energized and excited again about my writing. I thought Moriel set a great tone for the class--accepting where each writer was in his or her process and creating a safe space to share in. Last but not least, I appreciated Moriel's sense of humor, and his exhortation to cultivate levity about this whole crazy business of novel writing. I highly recommend Moriel's class to others!"
"I was fortunate to be in Moriel’s Fall 2019 class, “Wildness and Carefulness in Novel Writing.” It was a rigorous, thoroughly engaging class that challenged writers to think creatively about their work, focusing both on setting achievable goals and trusting themselves and their intuition. Moriel is a wonderful teacher. He is a brilliant writer and is honest about the joys and challenges of his own creative process. Moriel is also an amazing mentor, generous with his time and attention, and thoughtful and sensitive about the difficulties his students are facing. Thank you, Moriel, for an amazing class, and for all you do to support other writers."
"Moriel’s class was wonderful! The energy he brought to class was palpable. I learned a great deal that I will put to use in my writing immediately."
"I loved SADNESS IS A WHITE BIRD for its profound meditation on how we each strive to hold ourselves morally and politically to account, an individual resistance to a world of walls and violence, in defiance of the belief that ‘Each man has limited space in his heart, for sadness and for sorrow and for regret."
"Moriel is a great teacher and he brought such a nice energy into that room. I feel like I have a whole new perspective on my work and on working in general. I'm so glad I was able to be a part of this workshop."
“I loved Moriel's workshops. Moriel is someone who knows how to break down artistic concepts into digestible pieces anyone can understand and can bring out creativity in the shyest of participants. The workshop impacted me deeply.”
“Moriel Rothman-Zecher is not only a brilliant writer, he’s the finest editor I have had the privilege of working with. His ability to tease out the heart of a piece of fiction or nonfiction is matched by his compassion and generosity of spirit. He’s simply wonderful.”
“Rarely does one come across a debut novel as artistically accomplished, politically unsettling, and emotionally unflinching as Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s SADNESS IS A WHITE BIRD."
''Moriel Rothman-Zecher is a piercing observer and a relentless interrogator who peels back layers of pain to lay bare the difficult truths of his homeland, and the heavy price paid by those for whom love trumps hatred.”
"Moriel encouraged casting off my writing inhibitions while setting schedules for myself to accomplish the writing I wanted to do. I always felt that Moriel was engaging with the group sensitively and thoughtfully, giving advice when he had advice to give but also letting the group learn from each other."
“Moriel is an excellent teacher who is approachable and open with his own process. His ideas about writing recklessly and with abandon came at the perfect time for me in the course of a longer project that I'm working on, but I get the feeling that a writer at any stage would benefit from this insightful perspective on letting your creativity flow. His writing exercises were weird, surprising, and inspiring, they embodied the spirit of this class. This class started at a time of tremendous stress on each and every member of the class and Moriel gracefully navigated this unprecedented time we're living in (a cliché, but it's true!), using the texts he provided to help us make sense of the world we're living in.”
"I recently completed Moriel Rothman-Zecher’s workshop, and the experience exceeded my expectations on every level. Moriel held space for each writer and encouraged us with tangible structure (developing a work plan) and valuable craft insights. The workshop was collaborate and playful, while also providing serious feedback for our writing submissions. I emerged from this class as a stronger writer, with a clear sense of how to finish my novel. I would love to take another class with Moriel!”
"Moriel's class had a major impact on my writing. The class-devised work plan increased the consistency of my writing. Moriel's feedback was thoughtful and generous. I highly recommend taking this course!"
"Moriel's course "How to Design a Work Plan to Finish Your Novel" is true to its work-a-day name, but it's actually so much more. With inspiring readings, generous workshops and discussions Moriel's course helped get me out of my novel writing doldrums and back into a more fun and playful place."
"Moriel was an engaging and wise guide on writing with playfulness and truth. He fostered a warm and welcoming sense of community during our class and gave feedback brimming with an insight that located the heart of each piece and exactly what it needed. I would absolutely take another workshop with him; my writing is now more focused and, at the same time, more free."
"Moriel creates such an energizing and encouraging atmosphere in his classes. Reminding us of the imaginative joys of writing, while emphasizing the required discipline of the writing life, his class left me well-equipped for the long journey of writing a novel."
"Moriel is a kind and generous teacher who leads by example to create a collaborative, nurturing workshop environment. Inspired by Moriel's example, everyone in the workshop offered insightful, nuanced, and perceptive feedback on one another's work that never veered into discouraging criticism. Moriel's engaging reading selections and creative writing exercises helped all of us to look at our projects with fresh eyes and break down the insurmountable task of writing a novel into manageable steps."