ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – Local poet and one of Explora’s Makers in Residence Gigi Bella is hosting free virtual writing workshops for children, teens and families. The Science of Storytelling, Empathy & Writing a Galaxy of Feelings gives participants an opportunity to express their creativity, imagination, and curiosity in these fun, no-pressure, interactive programs.

Bella has been a working artist for the past 10 years and has spent the last four years as a teaching artist, holding workshops with schools and various organizations around the country. For Explora’s workshops, she’ll combine poetry and writing about the natural world in topics like the elements, outer space and nature. “Basically, we’ll be looking at the work of other poets, sometimes my own work and process, and then using that to inform all of our different science poems,” Bella said.

Sometimes coming into poetry can be intimidating because the writer has to be vulnerable, Bella said, so it’s important for her to establish trust with the class before they get started. She’ll ask about their days and do a check-in with participants. “Hearing someone talk about their day, it usually brings their walls down a little bit so we can just be people together,” Bella said.

Regardless of age, Bella focuses on helping participants attach meaning and emotion to the things around them. “It’s about telling stories. I was surprised, a lot of these kids are hungry for that kind of camaraderie and looking for that opportunity to share because they’re alone. A lot of them are alone in their house all day, whether or not they’ve chosen to go back to school, it’s still very isolated,” Bella said.

Bella had her first class for teenagers last Thursday and was pleasantly surprised at the response. “We only spent an hour together last night but by the end of it, a lot of these kids were like, ‘Yeah it’s pretty fantastic you just let us be people, and that you didn’t tell us that we’re young and we don’t know anything, and that you respected us,'” Bella said.

Classes are virtual and free. Those who are interested can register for the classes here. For more information, visit Explora’s website at