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2024 Collaboratorium Workshop

2024 Collaboratorium Workshop Schedule

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10 AM-11:30 AM

Finding Your Frequency: The Power of Connection in Podcasting with Andrew Burkum

One of the reasons that we love podcasts is the sense of intimacy we get from a really good host. The best podcasters excel at making each and every listener feel like they’re sitting right across the table, having a real conversation. But how do you build this connection—especially if you’re pre-scripting your episodes?

In this course, Andrew will help you tap into your natural communication frequency to find how it resonates with your audience. We’ll discuss how you can access the basic human draws to build a stronger connection and sense of intimacy, and we’ll take a look at the essential elements you’ll need to build into your scripts (or show plans) to give your listener a feeling that they truly are an audience of one.

In 2022, Andrew Burkum made the jump to video and now livestreams content as well as producing prerecorded shows. You can find him live five days a week at Andrew also serves as the Chief of Staff for United Way of Merced County (where he co-hosts and mixes their monthly podcast, Finding Common Grounds), narrates audio books for Audible and is the Founder of the IDEA Training Academy, which specializes in coaching organizations and individuals to be more productive, creative, happy and successful.  You can learn more about Andrew and his work at


Identity, Aesthetic, and Intrigue: Creating Your Signature with Summer Krafft

I love nothing more in a writer than writing like only they can. The goal in this workshop is honing your voice through looking at the power of repetition, the themes and images we can't seem to put down in our own works, and seeing what there is to be discovered in those. Those discoveries will inform our work going forward and you will draw inspiration from our own body of work, seeing it through a lens you haven't before. You will bring a small set of written pieces with you and we will identify what is most strange and special about you and how you show up most authentically on the page. We will be going deep and getting specific. This will be a largely discussion-based workshop, but we will be deciding on some directions for you to explore as you continue writing, as well as creating a short marketing phrase for promotion, submission, and publication to communicate exactly who you are at first glance. This workshop would benefit any writer, but would be most useful for memoirists, poets, and performers.

Summer Krafft (she/her) is a writer, creator, and theater artist residing in Modesto, California. While finding comfort in crafting for her small business, Sienna Gifting, she remains politically-minded and socially-motivated in her work for the page and for theater. Her stage works have been produced by Center Stage Conservatory, where she also served other roles in addition to playwright, and her written work can be seen in publications such as Nailed! Magazine, Everyday Feminism, Penumbra, The Manifest Station, and others. She also founded and hosted a Poetry Night that ran for 9 years in Modesto. Considering herself both a creator and a curator, her work tends to deal with themes of memory, love, rage, forgiveness, and the body.

Balancing Between the Real and Surreal with Jennifer Givhan

Writing in any genre is a balancing act between writing what feels “real” with what is artifice. The stakes are raised when writers begin balancing the real with the surreal, whether through our imagery, dreamworld, magical language, or when the supernatural creeps in. In this workshop, we will learn to walk that tightrope between verisimilitude and the magical or strange, incorporating magical realism, surrealism, and worldbuilding that blurs boundaries between reality and the imaginary while grounding readers and asking them to suspend disbelief. As Haruki Murakami writes, “People say it’s magic realism – but in the depths of my soul, it’s just realism.” We will work toward bringing to the forefront of your work those elements of the supernatural, mythical, and/or dreamworld that illuminate deeper thematic issues and propel the narrative or lyric forward. We will examine how fantastical elements can deepen our understanding of what it means to be human and allow us perspectives outside the mainstream.

Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American and Indigenous poet and novelist from the Southwestern desert. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices, she is the author of five full-length poetry collections and three novels, most recently River Woman, River Demon, chosen for Amazon’s Book Club, as a National Together We Read Library Pick, and featured on CBS Mornings. It also won a Silver Medal for the International Latino Book Award in the Rudolfo Anaya Latino-Focused Fiction category. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, POETRY, TriQuarterly, The Boston Review, The Rumpus, Salon, Ploughshares, and many others. She’s received the Southwest Book Award and Cutthroat’s Joy Harjo Poetry Prize, among many others. The 2023 Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at The University of New Mexico, Givhan lives in Albuquerque with her family.


Poems as Maps of Adversities and Guides to Self-Understanding with Maricela Martinez

In this workshop, we will read and review poetry that showcases the delivery, introspection, and reflection of life’s trials and obstacles. We will find a way to connect with the written works in order to discern how we may apply the characteristics of the poetry into our own lives. We will create our own works of poetry, so that, ultimately, we can attain a poetic map to help us navigate the challenges that come our way. 

Maricela Martinez (BA, she/her) currently teaches General Educational Development courses through the Merced Community College’s Adult Based Education program. She is a graduate of the UC Merced, as well as of Merced Community College. She is a native of Merced and finds great satisfaction in being a part of its educational and poetic community. Maricela has participated in quite a number of poetic venues, including: hostess of World Poetry Day Slam 2023 at the Multicultural Arts Center of Merced; participant in Raising the Vibrations 2023 in Sacramento; 3rd place in the Nuyorican Poetry Slam contest in New York, NY; and was invited to lead a poetry workshop in 2016 for the Young Women’s Conference. She is a survivor of domestic violence and says that poetry and spoken word performance helped her steer through the residual effects of her stress and confusion. It is a great pleasure of hers to share her works and help the community in any way that she can.


Sacred Ink: Healing Trauma Through Transformative Writing with Juan Luzuriaga

Join us for an immersive experience where we will dive into the depths of our trauma and heal through spiritual writing. In this sacred space, we welcome ancestral and spiritual connections so that we can channel our inner wisdom and unlock the language of the soul. We will have palo santo and short guided meditations to create the right atmosphere. Soulful writing prompts will help guide our writing. Community connection will be created when we share some of our experiences with others. 

Juan Pablo Luzuriaga is a writer based in California and a UC Merced alumnus. He was born in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and immigrated to the US at 16 in 2000. His interest lies in exploring a spiritual connection with his ancestors through prose and poetry. His writing explores generational trauma and unfolds avenues for healing. He teaches poetry in prisons and at California Poets in the Schools. He has been published in The Merced County Times (2022), Poetry Breakfast (2023), The Vernal Pool (2021-22), Matchbox Magazine (2023), and Cholla Needles (2023). He also offers free workshops for the community on trauma healing and more.

Make, Break & Repair with Sherre Vernon

Let’s make new poems, break them open and put them back together in surprising ways. Come prepared to provide and receive encouraging feedback and to share your revision process.

Sherre Vernon (she/her/hers) is the award-winning author of Green Ink Wings, The Name is Perilous, and Flame Nebula, Bright Nova. Sherre has been published in journals such as Tahoma Literary Review and The Chestnut Review, nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, and anthologized in several collections including Fat & Queer and Best Small Fictions. She teaches creative writing for the Downtown Writers Center at the YMCA of Central New York and composition at Merced College.

Storytelling and Body Presence with Tanisha McClain

In this workshop we will learn the art of communicating a story in an engaging and captivating manner. We will focus on our words as well as our movement. We will engage in fun exercises that bring us into ourselves and make us more aware of our presences in the world. 

Tanisha McClain is a Black Queer Femme residing in Merced. She moved to the Central Valley over a decade ago and fell in love with the people and the bounty of the land. Tanisha is an artistic tournant: a Spoken word poet, a Burlesque/Drag artists, and an artivist (arts activist) that has been performing in some regard for over thirty years. She has taught various workshops, produced community events, and hosted community open mics and poetry nights. 

Narrative Journalism with Ian Whitaker

Over the last decade the internet has exploded the news business, filling our feeds with vast amounts of data and information at the cost of true understanding. Narrative journalism has the ability to put these ordinary facts and details into context through powerful stories that connect the reader emotionally and intellectually with real life events. In this workshop, we will look at famous examples of narrative reporting, talk about what makes for a good story, and discuss ethical standards journalists must follow when writing about real people.

Ian Whitaker is a documentary photographer and former newspaper reporter in Las Vegas, where he covered public education and crime with an emphasis on inequality in schools and victims of trauma. His investigation of sexual relationships between teachers and students won Best Investigative Story from the Nevada Press Association, and his work has been featured in The Atlantic and In These Times. From 2018 to 2020 he served in the Peace Corps in Ukraine.

2:00 PM-3:30 PM

The Future of Worldbuilding: Writing for Emerging Media and Technology with Christa Fraser

From online games and AI entities to augmented- and mixed-reality and metaverse spaces, the future of writing may require an understanding of the ways in which worldbuilding, creative writing, and emergent media and technology work together. In this session, we will join a proto-metaverse space and explore the intersections of imagery, communication, and site- and device-specific online environments. Then, we will practice writing and considering complementary media worlds for these new and emergent narrative domains. A computer or tablet is recommended for this workshop. 

Christa Fraser (M.F.A.) teaches with the Merritt Writing Program at UC Merced. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and has been a fiction fellow at both MacDowell and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.  Her work has been published in The Missouri Review and Shankpainter. Currently, she is working on a novel and is the fiction and multimedia editor at River Styx literary journal. Like her ancestors for many generations, she was born and raised in the Central Valley and central foothills of California, where she has deep roots. She also calls the state's Central Coast home.



Rhymes with Revol: Rap, Poetry, and Mastering Creative Flow with Orlin Francisco Reyes “Revol”

Learn to capitalize on moments of creative flow to master the art of poetry, rap, and artistic writing. Participants will join in a live seminar, illustrating the lyrical composition aspect for writing poems, raps, or expressive creations from beginning to end. Revol will randomly select a qualified beat from YouTube and demonstrate how he structures his rhymes through creative thinking that is musically inspired. Attendants will then apply their knowledge to create their own poems, raps, or expressive pieces. 

Orlin Francisco Reyes, who performs as “Revol,” was born and raised in West Side Modesto during the mid 90’s. Despite early exposure to gang activity, street violence, drugs, and poverty; Revol managed to filter his thoughts and emotions in poetry and lyrics, while being influenced by hip-hop culture. Revol, as an artist and scholar of music, uses his creativity to share his worst and best moments in life. He is a conscious writer and strives to give an insight of his personal thoughts and outlooks by manipulating the genres of Hip-Hop, R&B, and Urbano Latino.

Revol’s project is focused on community outreach, with intentions to unify members from all demographics, ages, and backgrounds through musical compilations in the form of several albums. Hosting multiple, free concerts for Stanislaus and Merced communities, Revol plans to share his most recent creative works through live performance and shed light on the stories of his own endeavors, as well as those similarly relatable to fellow community members. He is devoted to documenting the process of his music’s impact and illustrating the experience of an independent, dream-chasing artist of color, while shedding light on social justice and other conflicting societal issues.


The Cards We’re Dealt: A Generative Writing Workshop with Angelina Leaños 

In the traditional game of Lotería, the dealer recites a poem or riddle based on the card they are dealing. Inspired by the tradition, in this workshop, we will be generating writing based on the cards we’re dealt from three types of decks: a Lotería deck as well as two tarot decks. Each card has its own unique image as well as a unique meaning, and everyone is encouraged to create their own stories, poems, or riddles in tandem with their cards. 

Bio:  Angelina Leaños is a Ventura County Youth Poet Laureate Emeritus and a member of California Poets in the Schools’ Board of Directors. Outside of school, Angelina serves as a Poetry Out Loud coach and a Poet-Teacher, mentoring youth in poetry recitation and creative writing. She is also a first-year MFA student at Fresno State and an editorial assistant with the Fresno State English and Creative Writing departments.

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