Teetle Clawson publishes "Culled" in The Sun

2020 Atheneum Fellow Teetle Clawson has published a new essay in The Sun.

"When I turned off the one-lane road onto the driveway of our solitary farmhouse, I heard the scrape of the truck’s tires on gravel, and then a muffled gunshot. At least, I thought it was a gunshot. Stepping from the truck, I could see entire galaxies of stars through the naked branches of the aspens and the icy arms of the pine trees. Chimney smoke spiraled into the air, its fiery scent so sharp I could taste it. It was too quiet: no bellowing of elk, no call of owls. As I opened the front door, I could smell the beef stew I’d left simmering on the stove, but there was no music, and our dog Neva did not greet me...." 

Read "Culled" by Teetle Clawson

Fellow Feature: Lee Montgomery

Meet Lee Montgomery

As a prolific writer, editor, ghost writer, manuscript consultant, teacher, and more, Lee Montgomery is one of the Attic Institute's beloved writing fellows. In her interview with us, Montgomery talks bout her literary pursuits, her love for Melissa Febos, and her time in the Portland literary community.

 

 

 

♦♦♦

How are you? 

All is well over here in northeast Portland. A little lonelier and a lot plumper, but all in all OK.

What have you read recently that you really enjoyed?

I am reading Melissa Febos’ Bodywork and loving it. (I love pretty much everything she writes.) I just finished and admired Very Cold People by Sarah Manguso and am attempting (again) Matrix by Lauren Groff. I am a fan of Groff but am having a little difficulty getting into 12th century nuns. I’m off to War and Peace this summer along with this companion piece Tolstoy Together, edited by Yiyun Lee.

What has been your favorite workshop to teach at the Attic?

I love teaching Personal Essay (and Writers’ Lab). Contemporary authors who are exploring personal essay have blown top off narrative—especially women. I think hands down it is some of the most interesting writing today. So it’s great fun introducing students to the possibilities of the form and watching their own life stories come to life.

As a writer working across multiple genres, do you start a new writing project without thinking about how it might be categorized upon publication, or is it the other way around?

This is such a great question. I usually do know what genre I am working. Fiction and nonfiction use different muscles. That said, I often cross over. A great deal of my fiction—my stories for example are all autobiographical. And I have a finished book of essays that I’ve been thinking about changing into stories. 

A side note, I never intended to write nonfiction. I learned to write on community newspapers but was wholly committed to writing fiction. Until I wasn’t.

How has your editorial work informed your own writing practice?

My editorial practice…. hmmmm… I love working as an editor and feel I have an intuitive knack in understanding story by authors other than myself. I have decades of experience as an editor and ghostwriter. So, the short answer is I guess I wish I was as smart as a writer as I am as an editor. It may be a case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes. All to say, I sometimes feel as though I have wood for brains when it comes to evaluating my own work.

I’m sure my editorial work has rubbed off on my writing though I don’t know that it has always been positive. I have many many many pieces stored away because I don’t feel they are quite finished or are not good enough, whatever that means.

When I first started working as an editor at the Iowa Review, I read zillions of stories, and I could tell within the first few pages if it was going to be something for us. Same for my work at the Santa Monica Review and Tin House. There is an energy that I look for. Frank Conroy once described it as how one could feel a soul pressing up against the sentences. I strived to find my unique voice very consciously on early pages.

George Saunders has a simple answer to what makes a good story. He once asked this editor at The New Yorker was editing one of his stories, what he liked about the story. The editor responded: I read one sentence. I like it. I read another.

Saunders has a story club based on his fabulous book A Swim in the Pond in the Rain. He breaks stories down brilliantly beat by beat.

How has living and writing in Oregon influenced your work? What has been your experience of the PNW writing community? 

The literary scene in Oregon has always been strong and it’s a pleasure to be part of it. Portland Arts and Lectures and Powell’s were two reasons I wanted to come to Portland. The literary community has exploded since I arrived almost 25 years ago. Since then Tin HouseGlimmer Train, a myriad of other publications, and a graduate program at PSU and OSU have created a  city crawling with writers and why not. It rains all the time in the winter, so the cocoon of clouds creates a fertile atmosphere for reading and writing. 

I don’t know that Oregon has influenced my writing. It sounds stupid, but I feel like I’m in exile from New England, a place I grew up and loved. I couldn’t stay for complicated reasons that are hard to articulate. But that’s my work, making sense of those people and that place.

Any advice for writers who want to work in the editorial field or publishing? 

People who are interested in working as an editor need to volunteer at a publication or get a graduate degree. At Tin House we hired all our interns. I don’t know what’s happening over there now, but at one point the interns were running the place and had zero credentials beyond their time at Tin House.

Can you explain the process of ghost writing? In your experience, how collaborative has it been? How does writing for another person inform/limit your creative freedom or prose style? 

Working as a ghostwriter is like writing fiction. You’re writing through somebody else’s POV. Of course it’s limited, you have to work toward capturing somebody else’s voice and tone. If they say golly gosh darn it, you have to write it. Biggest problem with working as a ghostwriter is not the actual writing—it is dealing with the people who hire you. These folks – celebrity, etc. – can be tricky.

Are you working on any new projects that excite you?

I have a few projects up my sleeve for the summer, but I might just say fuck it and go windsurfing.

Mixtape Poems: Building a Sequence Workshop w/ Michael Dickman

Mixtape Poems: Building a Sequence Workshop w/ Michael Dickman

"In this workshop we will read and explore sequential poems and where they might overlap with hybrid literary forms and even film. We will build our own sequential poems using some of the moves we've discovered together. You will leave with your own "mixtape poem", a poem as thrilling as the chaotic, elliptical and surprising worlds we all inhabit."

Learn more.

Introduction to Flash Nonfiction w/ Brian Benson

Introduction to Flash Nonfiction w/ Brian Benson

"Flash nonfiction, simply put, is true-to-life writing defined by extreme compression: it's saying what you've got to say using as few words, and as much beauty, as possible. An endlessly accessible, playful, potent form, flash nonfiction is evermore popular; from Brevity to 100 Word Story, The Forge to The Sun, legions of journals are eager to publish great flash.

In this prompt-driven workshop, we'll read short nonfiction by masters of the form; we'll talk about what stories are suited for flash, how to tell them well, and where to publish them; and most of all, we'll write and write and write, via in-class exercises and take-home prompts. Students will leave the class with reams of new writing and ideas for where to publish."

Learn more.

Fellow Feature: Matthew Dickman

Meet Matthew Dickman

Portland native Matthew Dickman embodies a poetic force that stretches far beyond the PNW, and he kindly answered a few questions about his work and life as a writer. 

As an author of multiple poetry collections and chapbooks as well recieving a 2009 Oregon Book Award and a 2015 Guggenheim Fellow, Dickman's work has an energy and authenticity worth celebrating. His newest collection Husbandry, a meditation on single fatherhood and the intricacies of domesticity, is a out June 2022. Pre-order Husbandry here.

 

♦♦♦

How are you?

I'm well. Spring is a favorite month of mine in Portland. Coffee, rain, lilacs, jumping in puddles with my kids. It's hard to beat spring.

What have you read recently that you really enjoyed?

So many things! I loved Nina Maclaughlin's Wake, Siren as well as Gwen E. Kirby's Shit Cassandra Saw, Missouri William's novel The Doloriad, Tove Ditlevsen's The Faces, Eimear McBride's Mouthpieces, Ali Smith's Public Library, and Wanda Coleman's complete American Sonnets which Black Sparrow Press just put out. I absolutely loved Richie Hoffman's new collection of poetry, A Hundred Lovers. I guess that's all the reading from end of February to now, a little into April!

What has been your favorite workshop to teach at the Attic?

There's no favorite though with the help, over the years, of all the incredible writers who have particiapted in my "workshops," I've been able to develop a kind of exploratory class, a class based on belief in the subject and each other's work instead of the classic model of workshop which begins with the assumption that there's something wrong with the work a participant is bringing in, a needing-to-be-fixed kind of thing. I don't think those workshops, in the long run, are very helpful.

If at all, how did growing up in Oregon influence your work? How did leaving Oregon and moving abroad alter how you moved through the world and the world of your writing? 

I can't claim that Oregon influenced my work but the city of Portland certaintly did. It is, and has been, a city of readers and writers. It was not hard, when I was young and going to Portland Community College, to find a group of other kids like me, other people interested in words and poems and stories. Living abroad, living in places where your language and your assumptions are not the norm influenced my humanity for sure—and in that way I'm sure influenced my writing. It helped me not to be the hero in my writing. That's something I see a lot and it's a little boring: people being the hero of their own poems.

You went from studying at a community college to being awarded a Guggenheim in 2015 (so cool!). Looking back at your career, what choices helped you to protect, nurture, or challenge your writing?

I had amazing mentors early on in the poets Dorianne Laux and Jospeh Miller who really instilled a writing world-view that what was important was your experience writing, your experience as a maker, and that everything else, awards, etc, were byproducts one should not hang their identity on. Also I do not teach at a University, I'm not part of that market, so my livelihood, my rent, the food I feed my kids, doesn't depend on awards or a new book of poems getting tenure. For that I am wildly thankful.

When it comes to writing about your family, how do you honor them in your work? Do your considerations of how to render them as characters shift as you approach sending a manuscript out for publication? 

This is a great question. One way I honor my family is by not writing about everything they do. For instance, with my new book Husbandrywhich is mainly about parenting, being a single father to two boys, the anxieties of parenting, etc—the majority of my experiences with my children have not been written about in the book. I have also been very cautious to not include anything that would be overly embarassing to my kids or anything, any experience, that had the intention of privacy.

Husbandry is written entirely in couplets; how was that formal decision arrived at? Was it a decision that was made before the idea of the collection was realized, or did it happen naturally, obsessively, etc?

The couplets came about organically during the writing of the poems. I had never written in couplets and so that was interesting to me. Also the dual nature of couplets felt right, seemed to fit the separation of my children's mother and I, the two children, love and sorrow, etc.

Are you working on any new projects that excite you?

Yes! Along with Husbandry I have written two other poetry manuscripts over the last two and a half years of the pandemic. One is a book of elegies and one a collection of "spring" poems. Right now, I'm working on revising a short story collection and that has been a blast—teaching myself how to write prose, walking around with characters in my head—so much fun!

Mixtape Poems: Building a Sequence Workshop w/ Michael Dickman

Mixtape Poems: Building a Sequence Workshop w/ Michael Dickman

"In this workshop we will read and explore sequential poems and where they might overlap with hybrid literary forms and even film. We will build our own sequential poems using some of the moves we've discovered together. You will leave with your own "mixtape poem", a poem as thrilling as the chaotic, elliptical and surprising worlds we all inhabit."

Learn more.

Indigo Editing Scholarship Opportunity!

Indigo: Editing, Design, and More, a Portland-based publication service provider, is seeking submissions for both its author and student diversity scholarships. Both opportunities are open exclusively to writers from marginalized populations that are underrepresented in the publishing industry. 

Student submissions are open to new students in the Ooligan Press program at Portland State University. Applications must be submitted to Ooligan by April 29, 2022, and the award recipient will be contacted early this May.

Applications for the author scholarship are open through July 15, 2022, and the winner will be announced this August. Read more about the scholarships, including essay questions and details regarding submission, here.  

The winner of the author scholarship will receive $1,000 in Indigo services while student winners will receive the Ooligan Diversity Scholarship, which offers $1,000 or more toward tuition and fees to attend Ooligan Press/PSU’s Master in Publishing program. In addition, student winners will receive a mentorship opportunity with Indigo’s founder and executive editor, Ali Shaw, an alumna of the Ooligan Press program. 

Introduction to Flash Nonfiction w/ Brian Benson

Introduction to Flash Nonfiction w/ Brian Benson

"Flash nonfiction, simply put, is true-to-life writing defined by extreme compression: it's saying what you've got to say using as few words, and as much beauty, as possible. An endlessly accessible, playful, potent form, flash nonfiction is evermore popular; from Brevity to 100 Word Story, The Forge to The Sun, legions of journals are eager to publish great flash.

In this prompt-driven workshop, we'll read short nonfiction by masters of the form; we'll talk about what stories are suited for flash, how to tell them well, and where to publish them; and most of all, we'll write and write and write, via in-class exercises and take-home prompts. Students will leave the class with reams of new writing and ideas for where to publish."

Learn more.

Mixtape Poems: Building a Sequence Workshop w/ Michael Dickman

Mixtape Poems: Building a Sequence Workshop w/ Michael Dickman

"In this workshop we will read and explore sequential poems and where they might overlap with hybrid literary forms and even film. We will build our own sequential poems using some of the moves we've discovered together. You will leave with your own "mixtape poem", a poem as thrilling as the chaotic, elliptical and surprising worlds we all inhabit."

Learn more.

Introduction to Flash Nonfiction w/ Brian Benson

Introduction to Flash Nonfiction w/ Brian Benson

"Flash nonfiction, simply put, is true-to-life writing defined by extreme compression: it's saying what you've got to say using as few words, and as much beauty, as possible. An endlessly accessible, playful, potent form, flash nonfiction is evermore popular; from Brevity to 100 Word Story, The Forge to The Sun, legions of journals are eager to publish great flash.

In this prompt-driven workshop, we'll read short nonfiction by masters of the form; we'll talk about what stories are suited for flash, how to tell them well, and where to publish them; and most of all, we'll write and write and write, via in-class exercises and take-home prompts. Students will leave the class with reams of new writing and ideas for where to publish."

Learn more.

Poets Studio: Spring Session w/ David Biespiel

Poets Studio: Spring Session w/ David Biespiel

"Do you feel sometimes frustrated with your poetic progress? Feel you’ll never be able to write the poems you aspire to write? You’re not alone. Poets at every level of experience deal with getting part-ways through a poem and getting bogged down, knowing something’s wrong but can’t figure it out, or don’t dare break the poem for fear of losing the “good parts,” then end up just reworking it over and over, and ending up with an overworked poem that doesn’t arrive at something fresh for the poet. Obviously, this is frustrating. You end up thinking you don’t have enough creative imagination or knowledge for solving poems. And: that you’ll never get it either. For Poets Studio: Spring Session we’re going to attempt to combat that frustration first, by accepting it, and second, by changing the way you practice writing and changing the ways you experience the world. What’s the secret? Alertness to gestures of experience, and juxtaposition. This course won’t be about efficiency or effectiveness in writing poems. It’ll be about failure. Seeking and exploring failure. By daring to fail, you’ll learn to write poems differently, enjoy the feeling of making poems, and discover a new pleasure in writing."

Learn more.

Writing the Real World Workshop w/ Joanna Rose

Writing the Real World Workshop w/ Joanna Rose

"Story starts as an idea, perhaps only a hint of an idea, in the heart of the writer, and this class can lead writers to transform idea into story on the page. Some stories lie in wait on numbered pages, stubbornly resisting form, or coyly beckoning. This is also a class for writers who want to further explore those not-quite-fully formed drafts. The power of story relies on the use of felt experience to build a world, live there for a while, and then invite a reader in. Sensory detail, voice, memory, world-building, language, and tension are only a few ways into that world. This is true whether the story is in the form of poem, memoir, or fiction. We’ll explore the various tools through published examples, in-class writing, assignments, and sharing."

Learn more.

Prose Poetry Workshop w/ Ruben Quesada

Prose Poetry Workshop w/ Ruben Quesada

"Explore imaginative and innovative possibilities in writing poetry without line breaks. We will read a range of prose poetry that model poetic elements. Our practice will employ the craft of lineated poetry and traditional narrative, including attention to language, syntax, and sound; rhythmic or imagistic patterning; repetition; precision; compression. The intersection of poetry and prose offers a range of possibilities for style and subject. I encourage a diversity of styles and subject matters, and I encourage you to take risks in your work. We will write together and discuss poetic elements as we practice writing. No previous writing experience is needed."

Learn more.

The Writers' Laboratory: Life Stories w/ Lee Montgomery

The Writers' Laboratory: Life Stories w/ Lee Montgomery

"Frank Conroy, the longtime director of the Iowa Writers Workshop, once said that in good writing, you can feel a soul pressing up against the narrative. The question is how do writers access the “soul” that translates into good storytelling? We’ll first focus on finding the soul that’s pushing you to write by offering a true laboratory, a safe place to inspire and experiment with new ideas generated by in-class prompts and exercises. We will talk about the craft of narrative, as well. Students will be required to read assigned essays and memoir excerpts outside of class to get a sense of the forms and techniques of narrative. The hope is students will be well on their way with a map for a new project by the end of class. The Writer’s Laboratory is ideal for beginning writers but also for more established writers seeking to generate new lively autobiographical material."

Learn more.

The Why and How of Writing Your Life Workshop w/ Wayne Gregory

The Why and How of Writing Your Life 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.

The Writers' Laboratory: Life Stories w/ Lee Montgomery

The Writers' Laboratory: Life Stories w/ Lee Montgomery

"Frank Conroy, the longtime director of the Iowa Writers Workshop, once said that in good writing, you can feel a soul pressing up against the narrative. The question is how do writers access the “soul” that translates into good storytelling? We’ll first focus on finding the soul that’s pushing you to write by offering a true laboratory, a safe place to inspire and experiment with new ideas generated by in-class prompts and exercises. We will talk about the craft of narrative, as well. Students will be required to read assigned essays and memoir excerpts outside of class to get a sense of the forms and techniques of narrative. The hope is students will be well on their way with a map for a new project by the end of class. The Writer’s Laboratory is ideal for beginning writers but also for more established writers seeking to generate new lively autobiographical material."

Learn more.

Rave Reviews for Quesada's Workshops

Our Attic Fellow Ruben Quesada keeps getting rave reviews on his poetry workshops:

"Ruben Quesada has an eloquence in teaching that is unmatched in many disciplines. I feel like I received more attentiveness and inspiration in this ten hour workshop than I have in a semester of college writing courses. He also has a way of delivering information in such an organized and concise manner, which can be difficult to master in an online format. Not only did he give a lot of exposure to a variety of poetry, but he fostered a successful environment for sharing our personal writing from the prompts he gave us. He clearly has the gift of knowledge transfer and gave me a lot of tools and resources to extend my learning beyond this course. Thanks for an awesome and memorable experience!" -Jacklynn

Want to see for yourself? There's still time! Ruben is teaching Introduction to Poetry Writing and another session of his Prose Poetry Workshop later this spring. Click the links to learn more about his workshops and to register.

Weekly Writing Group: A Critique Group w/ Wayne Gregory

Weekly Writing Group: A Critique Group w/ Wayne Gregory

"This class will create a writing group for students who are currently working on a specific short writing project (fiction or non-fiction).  The emphasis will be on peer feedback, with direction and guidance, tips, and resources from the instructor. At the end of the class, the students will present an online public reading of their work. The class will begin with a workshop on giving and receiving workshop feedback. After this, students in the class will meet each week and share their work and receive feedback from the students and teacher."

Learn more.

The Why and How of Writing Your Life Workshop w/ Wayne Gregory

The Why and How of Writing Your Life 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.

Exploring the Elegy Workshop w/ Matthew Dickman

Exploring the Elegy Workshop w/ Matthew Dickman

"There has been a lot of loss in each of our lives over the last two years: from the deaths of friends and family to an upheaval of social norms and interactions. In this class we will be exploring The Elegy in various ways. We will be reading and discussing examples of The Elegy by writers such as Kevin Young, Dorianne Laux, Marie Howe and others while writing and sharing our own. This is not a critical workshop but an exploratory one. The elegy is perhaps the most important poetic form of the moment-- let's explore it together!"

Learn more.

Fellow Feature: Joanna Rose

Meet Joanna Rose

As part of Portland's literary scene for almost 40 years, Joanna Rose has done it all. She has taught at the Attic, worked as a teaching artist in high schools, and planned book events at Powell's all while publishing across multiple genres.

Last week, Joanna agreed to answer a Q&A about her life as a writer and literary citizen, and in return, she has gifted us with a meditation on the act of writing and community building that has been informed by her past and looks sharply at the beauty, pain, and potential of the present.

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

Two years into Covid-time and I am fine, physically, except for the tendon in the tip of my pointer finger, which I snapped scraping ice from the bottom of the freezer with a plastic spatula. It didn’t hurt; I didn’t even feel it because my hand was so cold. That was early in quarantine, and I couldn’t get it looked at. It will stay bent at the tip. 

No one I know personally has died of Covid. I’ve lost dear people in the past two years, my big brother to alcoholism, a beloved colleague to cancer, and I couldn’t be near them at the end, or afterwards, with the other people who suffered those same losses. Now the endings have slipped away too. 

This long time without people has become its own weird thing, defined often not by solitude but separateness, showing me what I thought I already knew; I love people, their physical presences, the tapping fingers, the sudden quiet moments, eyes glancing away, and of course, my God, laughter. And hiccups! How much fun are hiccups? 

For almost 25 years, people gathered at my dining room table twice a week to share writing and ideas about writing.  For over 20 years, I spent time in high school classrooms as a teaching artist, and before that I was the events person at Powell’s, making readings and book talks happen there in the old Anne Hughes Room and then in the angled center aisle of the Purple Room. Classes at The Attic on Hawthorne meant crowding around that long narrow table by the kitchen, or on the green velvet couch in the front room where we all sank into each other. For almost 40 years, I have taken part in the big happy party that is the Portland literary scene.  

We all ‘pivoted’ in March of 2020. The weekly groups, the small classes at The Attic, classes in high schools, readings and book talks at bookstores and the Schnitz and the Old Church, all went online.  We were proud of ourselves and hopeful; we could do this. Even I, techno-feeb that I am, learned GoogleSlides (hard) and ShareScreen (not hard but sometimes embarrassing.)

I wonder at what cost? This is a deeply personal question, and perhaps no different from the question of how we have changed as a society. 

Now there is life on the Zoom screen. Nothing like the lively stupid fun of Hollywood Squares. There seems to be the need to be speak carefully. You get one shot at saying something in a Zoom setting, and you say it without the subtle non-verbal communication of a person at your side, or across the table, or in the back of the room. 

I have seen people change their style of communication over the time of quarantine; in the extreme, people who were great at thinking aloud and eliciting cross-talk have become pontificators; people who are hesitant or less articulate have become very quiet. Spontaneous conversation is rare. Reactions are limited to emojis that hover over a Zoom square for a couple of seconds, or are maybe written into the Chat window. Bursts of laughter are rare. People mute themselves unless they are speaking. There’s not even a sound of breath. 

But even on Zoom I love being with writers, sharing time if not space. For almost two years, my dining room has been filled with the sound of people, even if it does all end instantly with a click rather than people pushing back folding chairs and gathering books and forgetting coats and leaving what’s left of the pretzels and cookies, everyone trickling one or two at a time out the door and onto the street. 

We still get to talk about sentences. 

Prose Poem Workshop w/ Ruben Quesada

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.

'Thank you Ruben Quesada for an incredible class. It was full of fascinating information and the prompts Ruben gave us inspired my generative work (and from the other poets, you could tell it was the same for them)! Ruben also cultivated a space of openness and sharing that was truly remarkable for such a short class. He is a fantastic addition to the Attic, and I sincerely hope to take classes with him in the future. I most definitely would be interested to continue learning from and writing with Ruben.'"

Learn more.

Beginning with Poetry w/ John Morrison

Beginning with Poetry w/ John Morrison

"There is so much pleasure in poetry. Yes, there’s heartache, and mystery, and play, and drama, but there’s pure pleasure in the writing, the reading, and the sharing. Honestly, there’s just pleasure in joining the company of poets. This session is for those who are interested writing or sharing your poetry but you’re not quite sure. What will a workshop be like? What will others think? Will I belong? “Beginning with Poetry” is your opportunity and now is your time. Although the session is available to all, we will always be mindful of writers who haven’t been in a workshop or haven’t been for a long time. For inspiration and edification, we’ll read marvelous poems from a range of established writers, generate some of our own work, and share. Expect not only a lot of fun, expect the doors of the House of Poetry to open and welcome you inside."

Learn more.

Prose Poem Workshop w/ Ruben Quesada

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.

'Thank you Ruben Quesada for an incredible class. It was full of fascinating information and the prompts Ruben gave us inspired my generative work (and from the other poets, you could tell it was the same for them)! Ruben also cultivated a space of openness and sharing that was truly remarkable for such a short class. He is a fantastic addition to the Attic, and I sincerely hope to take classes with him in the future. I most definitely would be interested to continue learning from and writing with Ruben.'"

Learn more.

Putting It Together: Bringing Narrative Order to Your Chaotic Imagination w/ Wayne Gregory

Putting It Together: Bringing Narrative Order to Your Chaotic Imagination w/ Wayne Gregory

"No, this is NOT a songwriting class. It’s a class about helping the emerging writer take her pile of random chapters, character sketches, fragments, scenes, ramblings, and moments of literary brilliance, into something of a coherent and emotionally resonant story. During this class we will explore how a writer can look within their narrative to identify the key scenes, to understand the most critical trajectory for the character(s) from beginning to end, and to build the necessary narrative to connect those key scenes and move the journey of the characters forward. Finally, each student will develop their own revision practice and understand better what their story is revealing it wants to say and what needs to be omitted.  Students will take what they learn, work on their projects outside of class, then bring back examples of what they have discovered in their revision work to share with the class. This class is designed for those who already have a significant portion of their writing project (novel, short story, or creative non-fiction piece) completed in at least a rough draft form."

Learn more.

Beginning with Poetry w/ John Morrison

Beginning with Poetry w/ John Morrison

"There is so much pleasure in poetry. Yes, there’s heartache, and mystery, and play, and drama, but there’s pure pleasure in the writing, the reading, and the sharing. Honestly, there’s just pleasure in joining the company of poets. This session is for those who are interested writing or sharing your poetry but you’re not quite sure. What will a workshop be like? What will others think? Will I belong? “Beginning with Poetry” is your opportunity and now is your time. Although the session is available to all, we will always be mindful of writers who haven’t been in a workshop or haven’t been for a long time. For inspiration and edification, we’ll read marvelous poems from a range of established writers, generate some of our own work, and share. Expect not only a lot of fun, expect the doors of the House of Poetry to open and welcome you inside."

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Monthly Poetry Gathering and Workshop w/ John Morrison

Monthly Poetry Gathering and Workshop w/ John Morrison

"Here’s a workshop that can flow with the longer rhythms of your writing. A Saturday morning of each month, we’ll gather and share poems in a comfortable but focused fashion.

You choose the poem to share based on what feedback you are looking for; the poems could range from one you want ready to submit for publication, to an experimental piece that needs a supportive but critical eye.

Along the way we’ll talk about craft and how to grow and sustain a fulfilling practice, which includes the company of fellow poets.  Come ready to share your poems and insights and to carry generous feedback home to your writing desk."

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Exploring the Ode w/ Matthew Dickman

Exploring the Ode w/ Matthew Dickman

"The beginning of the New Year is a good time to celebrate the things and people we love. In this six-week class we will be exploring the celebratory form of The Ode through reading famous (and infamous) Odes by writers such as Pablo Neruda, Rita Dove, Lorca, and Galway Kinnell among others while writing and sharing our own. This is not a critical workshop but an exploratory one. Come celebrate with me!"

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Telling Our Stories Through Food Workshop w/ Zahir Janmohamed

Telling Our Stories Through Food Workshop w/ Zahir Janmohamed

Did you try to bake something ambitious at the start of the pandemic and fail? Great. I did, too. That’s sort of what this class is about: what can our food stories tell us about ourselves? Food is an incredible vehicle to speak about pleasure, pain, history, family, nostalgia, place, race, gender, class, sexuality, colonialism—you name it. In this course, we will read examples of powerful, first person food essays, as well as write our own food stories. Each class will feature a mixture of generative exercises and workshop. We will also hear from a guest speaker about how to write a recipe.

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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."