StoryScaping Workshops

The workshops can be delivered in a one-day format in person or via Zoom. Virtual workshops will be delivered over 3 sessions of 2 hours or 4 sessions of 90 minutes.

Once you have read through the workshop descriptions, please visit the main StoryScaping page to fill out the Workshop Request Form. You may indicate a first and second choice. You will be contacted by the Project Manager within 7 days of your request.

Each workshop leader has a particular specialty, ranging from poetry to storytelling, comic book writing to spoken word; however, most workshops are flexible and can be adapted to your group’s needs. All workshops will involve some element of creative writing.

We’re All Storytellers: Learning the Craft of True-life Storytelling

with Nisha Coleman

Photo: Robert Esguerra

This dynamic online workshop aims to reconnect the participants with their natural storytelling selves. With an oral exercise off the top, participants get to know each other and understand quickly that they are already storytellers. With a segment on story structures, building tension, layered meanings, scenes, sensory details, and beginnings and endings, participants begin to conceptualize the story they want to tell by the end of the class and gain valuable insight by working in pairs and small groups. An additional segment on performance techniques equips them not only for their final “performance” but to be a better communicator in their lives at home, school, or work. Nisha will record video of all who are willing, providing them with a lasting souvenir of the workshop. The workshop dynamic is supportive, safe, and welcoming, allowing participants to be vulnerable, open, and honest.

Nisha Coleman is a writer of fiction and memoir and an award-winning storyteller. Her memoir, Busker: Stories from the Streets of Paris, was released in 2016 by Radiant Press and was chosen as one of the 2016 Best Books of the Year by Pickle Me This. Her stories have been broadcast on The Moth Radio Hour, Risk, PBS, and CBC. Her solo storytelling show, Self-Exile, was featured at the Centaur Theatre for the 2017 Wildside Festival and won the 2016 Montreal Best of Fringe as well as the Sarasolo Festival Award of Excellence

(Re)making Memories – A Poetry Workshop

with Liana Cusmano

Photo: Kevin Konnyu

“(Re)making Memories” is a poetry workshop where participants are encouraged to build on their own lived experience in writing their poems and to use memory and recollection as a starting point for pieces that are vivid and relatable. Discussions of experiences that have marked us (when we were at our most joyful, melancholic, frightened, angry, etc.) will be followed by writing prompts that will help participants craft a finished piece. The act of remembering, and creative writing as remembering, is like time travel – if you wanted to bring your reader with you on this journey, how would you describe what happened? Which of the five senses would you lean on? Participants will be guided through deciding which similes, metaphors, or images most clearly express their experience. They will also be encouraged to play with form, structure, and punctuation in a step-by-step process, as they write pieces that will reflect who they are and the experiences they have lived. In this flexible and beginner-friendly workshop, participants will come away with a finished piece and a better understanding of how to tell the stories that are most important to them.

Writer, filmmaker, poet and arts educator Liana Cusmano (Luca/BiCurious George) is the 2018 and 2019 Montreal Slam Champion and runner-up in the 2019 Canadian Individual Poetry Slam Championship. Their poems and short stories have been published in Voices of Quebec/Les Voix du Québec (LCP, 2021), Here & Now: An Anthology of Queer Italian-Canadian Writing (Longbridge Books, 2021) The Radiance of the Short Story (CEAUL; Centro de Estudos Anglisticos da Universidade de Lisboa, 2018) People, Places, Passages: An Anthology of Canadian Writing (Longbridge Books, 2018), and Influence and Confluence, East and West: A Global Anthology on the Short Story (East China Normal University Press, 2016). With work that touches on heritage, queerness, and mental health, their aim is to help others feel both seen and safe. Liana is the 2020/2021 President of the Green Party of Canada. Their first novel, Catch & Release, will be published by Guernica Editions.

Write Your Story With Comics!

with Kate Lavut

You don’t need to be an artist to enjoy this comic-making workshop for youth and seniors. All you need is a story you want to tell and the courage to put it down on paper. Drawings can be formal and detailed or simple and expressive.

Photo: Johnnie

Through uncomplicated drawing exercises and writing prompts the participants will develop characters and explore visual styles that will shape their comics. By the end of the workshop each participant will have their own eight page comic book!

All the participants need is paper, pencils, pens and a desire to express themselves through drawings and words.

Kate Lavut is the author and illustrator of Chico, a true tale of the time she dressed as a boy, jumped on a bus, and went to Mexico. Chico was featured at TCAF, Toronto Comics Arts Festival, and was a finalist for the Quebec Writers’ Federation Prize for Children and Young Adult Literature. Lavut is known for her mini comics including Animals Ate the Alphabet, Smoked, and Sex after Baby. She is currently at work on a new graphic novel called Content Removed.

Spoken Story Song

with Nadine Neema

Spoken Story Song is a spoken word poetry and songwriting workshop that will lead participants in telling their own stories through poetry and songwriting. I believe writing is an important tool towards healing and self-discovery. Participants will dig deep to express their stories and emotions through rhythmic writing. We will look at universal themes such as identity, loss, love, fear, happiness and surprise.

Photo: Paula Toledo

We will begin with fun group exercises to create a safe container where participants feel at ease sharing together. We will learn rules such as rhyme, meter and form, understanding that we should never sacrifice the meaning of a piece for these rules. We will explore some songs and spoken word pieces to help explain what makes a good piece. Each participant will choose their own theme and be guided through various writing exercises. No prior experience needed. By the end of our time together, the participants will have written a piece that they will be invited to share with the group, and they will have acquired creative tools that they can use for further writing.

Born in Montreal of Egyptian and Lebanese descent, Nadine Neema is a multi-disciplinary artist and workshop facilitator. Her first book Journal of Traveling Girl, aimed at 9-12 year olds was published in October 2020. It has gone into second print and is being used in several schools across Quebec and the NWT. It’s a young girl’s coming of age story while traveling the trails of the Tłıchǫ ancestors. Neema began working with the Tłıchǫ in 1999, first as community manager of Wekweètì, a small isolated community in the NWT, then assisting with their regional land claims and self-government negotiations. As a recording and preforming artist she has released four albums; was mentored by Leonard Cohen; and has opened for artists such as Elton John, Joe Cocker, and Cyndi Lauper. Neema has facilitated many workshops including songwriting, creative and journal writing, poetry, storytelling, and creativity workshops that combine movement, voice and writing.

Spoken Ancestries

with Dona Nham

Photo: Michael Kovacs

Spoken Ancestries is an online spoken word workshop that will take participants on an introspective journey of the Self. Where do we come from? Who do we come from? What is home? Our own personal histories and lineages will be the inspiration for building a deeper language to ourselves and relationship to our roots. Participants will be guided through a series of collective and individual activities that will investigate, explore, and celebrate the mysteries and truths that only they can tell. Elements of spoken word, performance, and play will be explored in the activities. No prior experience needed! Come prepared to be curious, to have fun, to write, to share, and to build a relationship to your story. At the end, you will leave with more creative tools and practice under your belt to share your own ancestral stories through spoken word.

Xin chào! Dona Nham is a Vietnamese-Chinese femme born and raised in Treaty 6 (Edmonton) and has been living in Tio’tia:ke (Montreal) since 2009. She is a spoken-word artist, arts-based facilitator, community organizer and cultural worker. Her practice is inspired by regenerative patterns within nature, the exploration of her ancestry and liminality, stories of resilience and diaspora, and the expansive and evolving work of what it means to decolonize, to heal, to love, and to seek truth, even in the darkest of places.

In Your Own Voice, In Your Own Words

with Patti Warnock

Unleashing the imagination – Are we trained to use our imagination…or is it neglected?

Photo : Christiane Olivier (Soirées Contes en Îles), 2019

Whether recounting a love story or an adventure, a true-life story or one that’s totally imagined, the participants will be free to improvise and adapt as they are guided through the creative process of bringing a story to life and telling it in their Own Voice and their Own Words.

This workshop is an invitation to explore not only the process of creative writing, but also a brief introduction to basics of oral and nonverbal communication necessary for the transmission of a story. The participants will create an original short story or monologue and practice skills (including recognizing the essential story elements, use of pictographs, voice, gesture, etc.) in order to learn as opposed to memorize a story for telling.

Through laughter and tears, participants will share their thoughts and ideas, memories and emotions, in a positive, enjoyable, and non-judgmental environment designed to encourage growth and well-being… simply for the pleasure of it!

Through the sharing of stories, we may see past our differences; stimulate interaction between generations, languages, and cultures; strengthen our confidence, identity, and sense of community.

Patti Warnock, aka La Contesse, has participated in cultural activities and festivals throughout Quebec, Canada, the Caribbean, France, Iran, and China, receiving commendations for her storytelling and writing work. Her repertoire (for the young at heart of all ages) consists not only of traditional style tales, but also of her own creations, where reality and fiction walk hand in hand, and which are based on the reality of everyday life events, and on her own childhood in rural Quebec and in northern Canada.