A Hearty Congratulations

Incredible writer and Attic alumna, Valerie Egan, has just published her first chapbook A History of Running from Dancing Girl Press & Studio. An excerpt of her work below:

The Mad Sailor

root deep & remember:

snot spleen the trembling thunderclouds puke-green tile kitty litter sucking on thumbs Costco suburbs and it was always raining

except in California

where skin broke, bled, burned itself open 
during its mad dash to Disneyland

I hurtled through the door
before the car had stopped

Scar tissued knees, eyes red
They should have tied me to the ship

We love hearing about the success of our alumni. Valerie took a workshop from Ashley Toliver a few years ago; congrats again on the pub!

Portland Book Festival 2021

We are a little more than a month away from this year's Portland Book Festival!

This year's festival is hybrid which means some events will be offered virtually and others will be offered in-person throughout the week of November 8th-13th.

You don't want to miss out on this litany of literary events that range from workshops to craft panels to live readings. Check out the festival's 2021 Author & Presenters Lineup.

Tickets are on sale for both the virtual and in-person events now.

Prose Poem Workshop

Prose Poem Workshop w/ Ruben Quesada

"A generative workshop that explores the boundaries of poetry. The intersection of poetry and prose offers a range of possibilities for style and subject. In this course, we will write together, and we will discuss poetic elements found in sentences. No previous writing experience is needed."

Learn more here.

The Why & How of Writing Your Life: A CNF Workshop

The Why & How of Writing Your Life: A CNF Workshop w/ Wayne Gregory

"We live in a time when it is more important than ever for us to tell the stories of our lives. We are inundated with more information than we can ever process and while we communicate with more people via social media, we feel increasingly detached from the feeling of community. In short, we lack enough well-crafted human stories. Stories summon our imagination to experience the life of another and through that experience to better understand the other, as well as ourselves. This workshop is for the one who wants to discover how to identify her/his compelling story and how to create a work that will grab readers and take them on their own journeys. You will work on a single piece—memoir or essay—with the goal of producing a completed rough draft by the end of the workshop. You can bring something you’ve already started to work on or just bring an empty page, an idea, and a willing, eager imagination. The workshop will help you discover what story to tell, why your story is important for others to hear, and how to use some of the techniques of the writing craft to create and shape that story idea."

Learn more here.

Story Energy

Story Energy w/ Joanna Rose

"Tension draws writer and reader into any story and evokes more deeply human experience. The constant adjusting of tension affects pacing and drives story in countless ways:  interactions among characters, sentence structure,  and even word choice. We’ll use excerpts from published works of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry as well as work submitted weekly by participants to explore how the use of tension can create a vivid, visceral narrative."

Learn more here.

Missouri Review Contest

The sweet, sweet sound of $5,000 for your writing.

The Missouri Review's 31st annual Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize competition is now open for submissions in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. First-place winners in each category receive $5000, feature publication in their spring issue, and are honored at a gala reading and reception in Columbia, Missouri (pandemic permitting). Contest finalists are often published in the magazine also, or in the web-exclusive features they offer on our website in prose and poetry, BLAST and Poem of the Week.  All entrants are considered for publication.   

"This opportunity is open to writers at all levels. We pride ourselves on focusing on the quality of the writing first and foremost—our allegiance is to discovering and supporting strong work. Past winners have ranged from established writers with long records of publication to beginning writers who have never published before. In fact, for our fiction prize winner in 2018, the prizewinning story was her first published piece." -Bailey Boyd, contest editor   

They accept submissions online or by mail. The postmark deadline is October 1. Winners will be announced in January of 2022.   

You can find out more about the contest through our website.  

Fanfare for Nonfiction

Past students of Lee Montgomery's "Art of Personal Essay and Memoir" cannot help but RAVE about their experiences in the workshop:

"I had never written a personal essay before taking Lee Montgomery's workshop. The class gave me the confidence to sit down at the computer and write and, ten months later, I haven't stopped." -Abbie Fields 

"Lee’s workshop approach is serious and sensitive, fair, and generous, humorous, and supportive. She emphasizes all the positives in the student's submissions and judiciously steers them to go deeper and truly align with their talents as well as suggest what is not working with the encouragement to try it a different way and see for themselves what happens. I can't recommend Lee Montgomery enough, as mentor, teacher, writer, and critic." -Jodi Lorimer

"What I appreciated most about the essay class with Lee was the wide variety of essay styles she introduced. The critiques of our work included discussion and questions that prompted ideas for expanding and deepening the writing. Lee is supportive, fun to work with, and smart in her writing. I'm grateful to have taken the essay workshop with her!" -Cathryn Vogeley

"Lee Montgomery’s editorial critique of my novel manuscript was everything I had hoped for, and more. She read with insight and clarity, offering me a detailed picture of what was working and what wasn’t—exactly the things I couldn’t discern for myself. My book is profoundly better for her help. I whole-heartedly recommend her services." -Megan Benton

Sign up for her next installment of this online workshop that starts September 25.

Tin House's 2022 Winter Writing Residencies Deadline Approaching!

Do you want/need some dedicated time for your work in progress? Tin House, a publishing house and writing organization located in Portland, has multiple writing residencies for you to apply for—but apply soon because the deadlines are approaching fast (August 29th).

Their 2022 Winter Residencies consist of a $1,200 stipend and access to a fully furnished one-bedroom apartment in Portland, Oregon for a month. Even better, one application can be used to apply for all of the currently offered residencies. Don't miss your chance!

Need a Refresher on The Lyric Essay?

Published by University of Nebraska Press, A Harp in the Stars: An Anthology of Lyric Essays edited by Randon Billings Noble is a great introduction or refresher on what the lyric essay form is and can be.

"What is a lyric essay? An essay that has a lyrical style? An essay that plays with form in a way that resembles poetry more than prose? Both of these? Or something else entirely? The works in this anthology show lyric essays rely more on intuition than exposition, use image more than narration, and question more than answer. But despite all this looseness, the lyric essay still has responsibilities—to try to reveal something, to play with ideas, or to show a shift in thinking, however subtle. The whole of a lyric essay adds up to more than the sum of its parts.

In A Harp in the Stars, Randon Billings Noble has collected lyric essays written in four different forms—flash, segmented, braided, and hermit crab—from a range of diverse writers. The collection also includes a section of craft essays—lyric essays about lyric essays. And because lyric essays can be so difficult to pin down, each contributor has supplemented their work with a short meditation on this boundary-breaking form."

An Interview with Arundhati Roy

In her interview on the Paris Review, writer Arundhati Roy talks about genre, activism, their overlap, and so much more.

"To see that two-decade period as a gap, or the nonfiction as separate from the fiction, would be to misunderstand Roy’s project; when finding herself described as “what is known in twenty-first-century vernacular as a ‘writer-activist,’ ” she confessed that term made her flinch (and feel “like a sofa-bed”). The essays exist between the novels not as a wall but as a bridge."

Let Your Horoscope Decide

Running out of books to read for the end of the summer?

Let Electric Literature's reading list, "Your Summer Reading Horoscope," decide for you with the help of your astrological sign.

As for the list's validity, Mckayla Coyle, author of the article says, "as both a Virgo and a lesbian, I love talking about books, and I loved talking about astrology, and I’m always right. Therefore, you can be assured that this list is scientifically accurate and you’ll definitely love the books assigned to your sign. I’m not here to tell you who you are, I’m just here to tell you what to read."

Squirrels in Every House

Did you want to read more about squirrels that are similar to those in Jo Ann Beard's famous essay, "The Fourth State of Matter," published in 1996?

Look no further than T Kira Mahealani Madden's newest essay "When the Squirrels Are Over" published in Catapult.

"I can’t find a metaphor for the squirrels. Each time they scratch and chatter above the bedroom ceiling, or nibble through the insulation of our attic leaving a confetti of toxins on the kitchen counter, each time they screech and scream their mating calls and fuck and tumble and find a new way into our house, I think, This should mean something. This should carry allegorical or metaphorical properties; that might make it feel better. But there is no meaning. I haven’t found one yet."

A Glimpse Into An Indie Press

Literary Hub's Corinne Segal sat down with Belt Publishing, a for-profit independent press, and talked about the ins and outs of the publishing industry in "Interview with an Indie Press."

What are some of the benefits to working at an independent press?

"Right there in the name: independence. We get to choose what to publish, how much to publish, how to allocate our resources. It seemed like a suspicious truism to me before I started doing this—that independent presses were where risks could be taken, where unknown writers who don’t have industry savvy could get a break, and where interesting and less “commercial” work could be done without huge pressure to sell tens of thousands of copies. But it turns out the truism is true!..."

A Conversation Between Dorothea Lasky and Lauren Berlant

In a conversation published in MAKE Literary Magazine, poet Dorothea Lasky and literary scholar Lauren Berlant "share an interest in pedagogy, since they identify first and foremost as teachers. And while Lasky and Berlant diverge wildly on the topic of God and spirituality (a marked disjunction of the case), both urgently and forcefully study the way we operate and live in the world."

"Lauren Berlant: I am a person of the world. I am interested in the flourishing of beings in the context of lives that they are hammering out in the present. I am interested in the ways people find sustenance and make survival happen in worlds that are not organized for them. I am interested in why people stay attached to lives that don’t work, as though people would not survive the wholesale transformation of those attachments and the lives built around them, as though they would rather be miserable, stuck, or numb than tipped over in the middle of invention. Making worlds is very hard and losing them is devastating."

While this conversation occurs in 2014, its themes remain urgent and insightful. Read more.

Emerging Writer Fellowship

The Georgia Review just launched an Emerging Writer Fellowship Program and applications are open from June 1st-August 15th.

In conjunction with the literary journal's publication of their special issue SoPoCo, the fellowship program also launches "in partnership with the nonprofit artist residency program AIR Serenbe, which is based outside of Atlanta.  The winners—one in prose, one poetry—will receive publication, win a one-month stay at AIR Serenbe, and give a reading in Athens, Georgia, with a $1500 honorarium and all travel and lodging provided. We invite emerging writers who write from these diasporic communities to apply. Applicants must not have published a full-length book, or have one under contract, by the application deadline."

A Short Story to Sink Your Teeth Into

Featured on Electric Literature, "One Last Night with the Worst Best Friends" is one of the stories in Brandon Taylor's newest short story collection Filthy Animals

About Taylor's writing, Calvert Morgan, the Executive Editor of Riverhead Books, says "that Taylor’s gift is his ability to hold you in that now, like a dragster gunning against the brake until the rubber starts to smoke. He opens Filthy Animals in a moment of complete torpor; it’s a daredevil move for a writer who wants to seize our attention, but then Taylor never fails to arrest us..." 

Read Morgan's full review of Taylor's book or jump to the bottom of the website to read Taylor's captiviatng short story.

2021 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry: Natalie Diaz

Congratulations to Natalie Diaz for winning the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her poetry collection, Postcolonial Love Poem.

It is "a collection of tender, heart-wrenching and defiant poems that explore what it means to love and be loved in an America beset by conflict."

"Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages—bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers—be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: “Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality." -Graywolf Press

Want a Literary Internship in Minneapolis?

Coffee House Press is a nationally known and renowned nonprofit publishing house located in Northeast Minneapolis. They publish annually sixteen to twenty books—novels, short stories, poetry, and literary essays.

Coffee House Press is accepting applications now until July 5th for their fall internship which will introduce you to all aspects of a small literary publisher, and will give you skills that can also easily transfer to larger publishing houses and other careers, both in the arts and elsewhere. Fall internships will be in-person at our Minneapolis office with some remote work opportunities.

On A Nonfiction Reading Kick?

Want to read some more nonfiction?

Literary Hub has two detailed reading lists for you: The 10 Best Memoirs of the Decade and The 10 Best Essay Collections of the Decade.

While the titles of the articles only say "ten," each list is accompanied by a list of books that did not quite make the cut as well as a list of honorable mentions. Besides the honorable mentions, each book is blurbed which makes deciding what to read next even easier.

What An Essay Can Do

On Essay Daily, Rebecca McClanahan collected a list of 72 words or "moves" that a work of creative nonfiction can attempt to do. An essay is not simply a recounting of facts. Like McClanahan's list points toward, an essay can do an inexhaustable amount of things.

"...narrate, describe, record, persuade, quote, document, ask a question, argue, inform, make a scene, weave, collide, list, sidewind, sidestep, skip a step, inventory, time travel, tell a tale within a tale, interview, meditate, speculate, ruminate, intrude, interrupt, deconstruct, reconstruct, reveal, talk back to an earlier self..."

Zadie Smith on the Failure of the Craft Talk

"That Crafty Feeling," a lecture Zadie Smith gave to Columbia's writing program back in 2008 and that was published in Believer Magazine, is a craft talk that is surprisingly anti-craft, yet full of helpful tips and cutting prose.

Smith's meditation on craft talks is wonderfully self-aware and her advice will leave you with plenty to chew on.

"Reading about craft is like listening to yourself breathe. Writing about craft prompts a self–consciousness so acute one forgets how to exhale altogether. It’s clear to me that James, or any good academic or critic, will be able to tell you far more about craft than I can, and do so with more clarity, more utility, not to mention a lot less anxiety. The question how does fiction work? is an answerable one. The question how do you write fiction? isn’t really, not without becoming a little fraudulent in the answering of it."

Revisiting A Favorite

A year ago, Sabrina Orah Mark published the essay "Fuck the Bread. The Bread is Over." in her column Happily for The Paris Review.

365 days later, Mark's dark humor and stinging comparisons about the overlap between fairytales and reality still ring true.

"In fairy tales, form is your function and function is your form. If you don’t spin the straw into gold or inherit the kingdom or devour all the oxen or find the flour or get the professorship, you drop out of the fairy tale, and fall over its edge into an endless, blank forest where there is no other function for you, no alternative career. The future for the sons who don’t inherit the kingdom is vanishment. What happens when your skills are no longer needed for the sake of the fairy tale? A great gust comes and carries you away."

Oregon Book Awards Winners

Congratulations to all of the Oregon Book Awards Winners!

"Literary Arts’ Oregon Book Awards & Fellowships program provides financial support and recognition to published and emerging writers across our state. The program also creates connections with Oregon’s readers and writers through free community programming."

Special shout out to past Attic Fellow Vanessa Veselka and her novel The Great Offshore Grounds for winning the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction.

Check out the complete list of finalists for fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Don't forget to read each book's blurb to find out what Oregonians are writing.

Fellow Feature: Whitney Otto

Meet Whitney Otto

Whitney Otto, long-time Attic Fellow and renown writer, talks generously about her writing, reading, reading as writers, and her newest book Art for the Ladylike: An Autobiography Through Other Lives that came out this year.

Order Art for the Ladylike: An Autobiography Through Other Lives here

Want to learn more about Whitney? Check out her website to keep up to date.


Q: What book or article have you read recently that you really enjoyed?

A: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado and The Big Book of the Dead by Marion Winick really stand out for me. Also, Good Talk by Mira Jacob, which is a graphic memoir.  I’ve also re-read a couple of books: Women in Their Beds by Gina Berriault and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. I ended up re-reading the Stein book because it has a new illustrated edition by one of my all-time favorite illustrators, Maira Kalman, and because it’s comfort food.

A More Personal Look at the Attic's Atheneum

Listen to current Atheneum Fellows answer questions about their time in the Atheneum program:

What has been the most productive part of the program so far?

"I've appreciated how much more structured my writing process has become and the monthly deadlines to turn in work. It has kept me on track to finish a solid draft of my memoir by the time the program concludes in June." - Kristin Moran

"It’s the community we’ve all formed that helps motivate me to sit in the chair and write. I carry their words with me every day." - Mae Cohen

"First, the meetings with my accomplished, experienced, thoughtful mentors have helped me enormously. They’ve encouraged me and given me resources and advice that has helped me to organize my project and look at my writing more critically.

The other part is the community the fellows have created together via sprinting. This is a weekday write-a-long that we do by text. It generally lasts about an hour. How it works is someone will text the group that they’re writing now, and people join in if they can. Sometimes we chat a bit before and after but it’s not the lengthy social event of a Zoom call. It’s a nice way to stay connected, share issues, and not feel so alone in the process." - Signe Kopps

"My monthly mentorship meetings with Whitney have always built me up and helped to get my compass pointing the right way again. I've also enjoyed our big group meetings, the salons, and the craft exercises that the mentors have had us work on. But what might be the most productive part of the program for my extroverted self has been the connections I've made with the other writers. We are all on a group text together and every morning, someone texts just to say they are writing, that way we can join in to write "together" if we are able to. My group, the nonfiction writers, has also started to meet every month electively, just to get more eyes on our projects. It's been so great to know the other writers and be vulnerable with them." - Gemma Hobbs

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From David Biespiel, President of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters


Letter in 2010 announcing the new Attic Institute

"Eleven years have gone by in a blink. But today begins a new era as we renew our dedication both to the word and to the world."


Interview about the founding of the Attic Institute

"All sorts of excellent pieces of writing get started and finished here. That's what it means to be a literary studio."


Essay in the New York Times on they mysteries of poetry

"Poetry connects us to our past, and poets unmask both private and civic memories, dreams, and urgencies. By harmonizing the body with the mind, serving both young and old, poetry is a guide to deliver us into a fresh engagement with our inner lives and with modernity."


Essay on poets and democracy in Poetry magazine: "This Land Is Our Land"

"America's poets have a minimal presene in American civic discourse and a miniscule public role in the life of American democracy. I find this condition perplexing and troubling -- both for poetry and for democracy."