Attic Institute president David Biespiel says why poetry matters in the New York Times

Poems Hold the Mysteries of the Present, Dreams of the Future

David Biespiel

David Biespiel's most recent book of poems is "Charming Gardeners." His anthology "Poems of the American South" is due out next month in the Everyman's Library series.

JULY 21, 2014, 11:42 AM

I write this by campfire light in the back country of British Columbia, cut off from the digital world and miles from the nearest town.

Every society we've ever known has had poetry, and should the day come that poetry suddenly disappears in the morning, someone, somewhere, will reinvent it by evening . . . 

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Adjunct Fellow Wayne Gregory's THE TONGUES OF MEN AND ANGELS

Congratulations to Wayne Gregory upon the publication of his new memoir.

I spoke with the tongues of men and angels in the muggy shadows behind the interstate rest area, begging God to save me from sex with a strange man a week before my wedding day. Born and raised in the evangelical Christian South of the sixties and seventies, Wayne Gregory hid his homosexuality from others and from himself for years until he was finally forced out in middle age. This story chronicles the beginnings of his struggle as an adolescent, his budding sexuality and simultaneous passion for God. Despite desperate attempts to build an acceptable straight life, his homosexual desires got stronger, creating questions and exposing inconsistencies in his faith. Then came the crushing realization that the homosexual feelings were not random sins, but part of his very identity. The story takes place as Wayne struggles with this realization, life continues to bring new challenges: adopted children, infidelity, a crumbling marriage. A vortex of self-loathing and despair leads to a transformation in which the author gets a glimpse of how spirituality and homosexuality can come together in a single, honest, free life.

 

Order the book

Check out Wayne's upcoming workshops

FREE READING: Atheneum Class of 2014 to read fiction, nonfiction, and poetry

Celebrate with the end-of-year Atheneum readings. This event is one of the Attic Institute's best nights: great community, great food and drink, and great writing of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Mon June 2: Catherine Craglow, Kelly Wallace, Jennifer Dorner, Leah Hanes, Tiffany Stubbert, Janine Robben, Theresa MacDonald

Tue June 10: Brad Kerstetter, Catherine Kernodle, Greg Berman, Zaha Hassan, Elizabeth Lampman

Both readings are held at 7pm in Southwest Portland at Stonehenge Studios, 3508 SW Corbett Ave. / info@stonehengedesigns.com

How a life in poetry keeps poetry alive: An interview with David Biespiel on 'New Books in Poetry."

David Biespiel

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John Ebersole sits down with the president of the Attic Institute to discuss his upbriging, the world of contemporary poetry, and his latest book, Charming Gardeners. 

"David Biespiel‘s Charming Gardeners (University of Washington Press, 2013) is unlike any book I’ve read in a long time. Filled with epistolary poems, his book – despite being populated by the poet’s friends and family – is actually a work of great loneliness. In many ways, Biespiel’s journey is America’s, where the road is both a symbol of arrivals, but also departures, and in between is solitude. On the surface, Biespiel’s poems seem like the private meditations of one man. However, his poems encompass each of us, socially and politically, by illuminating our nation’s contradictory character: a longing for enchantment in a disenchanted world. The poems in Charming Gardeners live between the wilderness and the civilized and the poet, finding himself in this zone of uncertainty, does what any of us would do: call out to those we love. In our conversation we discuss his years in Boston and D.C., the Attic Institute in Portland, the poetry wars, and so much more. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did." ~ John Ebersole

 

Atheneum alum Celeste Hamilton Dennis remembers Levittown in the Huffington Post

A LOVE LETTER TO LEVITTOWN

Celeste Hamilton Dennis (Atheneum, '12)

published in The Huffington Post

_________________________________

Dear Levittown,

I'll be the first to admit: Our love hasn't always been a Billy Joel song.

In our early years together, I loved to spend my days swimming at your pools and hanging out at block parties and eating as much as I could at pancake fundraisers for high school sports teams. But my favorite thing? It was easy for me to find the bathrooms at all of my friend's houses. I liked how they all looked and felt the same.

Then I got older and your sameness started to make me feel weird. I sabotaged us. I stole bras from your department stores. I toilet papered your manicured lawns. I smoked pot in the sump behind the village green. I made out with boys on baseball fields and ruined pitching mounds.

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David Biespiel to lead special one-day poetry workshop on February 23rd

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Biespiel's Poet and Muse Poetry Workshop

February 23, 2-4pm

Take a couple hours out of a winter weekend to rejuvinate your writing and thinking about your past and future poems. We'll be looking at one of your current poems, learning new methods of revision, and creating time to start fresh poems from prompts and discussion. This two-hour workshop will provide you with strong support, encouragement, critique, and inspiring ideas, as well as leads for reading and publication. Ideal for poets who have not yet taken one of David Biespiel's workshops at the Attic Institute. 

Register for this workshop

Jennifer Lauck named senior fellow at the Attic Institute

 

 

Congratulations to Jennifer Lauck for being named the Attic Institute's newest senior fellow. 

Jennifer Lauck is an award winning journalist and the author of four memoirs including the New York Times Bestseller, Blackbird. Featured on The Oprah Show, Winfrey told her audience, "this should have been a Book of the Month book. Read it now!"

Lauck's work has been translated into twenty-two languages, has been the bestseller lists in London, Ireland and Spain and has been featured in Newsweek, Harper's Bazaar, Talk Magazine, People, Glamour and Writer's Digest.  Her other memoirs include: Still Waters, Show Me the Way and Found.  Lauck has also published several essays in analogies, magazines and on line at Huffington Post. 

Lauck has an MFA in creative writing and a BA in journalism.  She's currently working on her first novel.

 

Check out Jennifer's classes

 

Elizabeth Rusch's Book Proposal Writing Workshop | Jan 23 - Mar 6

 

Primary tRESOLVE: Write That Bok Proposal NOW!

Have an idea for book? Work closely with a book proposal pro: Liz Rusch has sold six books based on her proposals. She knows that writing a book proposal is your best first step to writing a nonfiction or creative nonfiction book. Also enormously useful for memoir and short story collections. 

Sign up right now

 

Lee Montgomery's The Art of Personal Essay Workshop | Feb 3 - Mar 4


Some of the most interesting writing done today is personal essay and memoir.

Pushing narrative boundaries, utilizing traditional and nontraditional forms, this type of writing explores individuality and the minutiae of life unlike any other form. This workshop will help students explore the new world of personal essay writing and understand both traditional and nontraditional narrative strategies available to them. 

Learn more and save your spot

Natalie Serber joins the Attic Institute as a teaching fellow in 2014

Welcome, Natalie!

Natalie Serber is a fiction writer, essayist, and educator. She is the author of the story collection Shout Her Lovely Name, a New York Times 100 “Notable Books” of 2012, a summer reading pick from O, the Oprah Magazine and an Oregonian Top 10 Book of the Pacific Northwest for 2012. Her fiction has appeared in The Bellingham Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. Essays and reviews have appeared at The Rumpus, The New York Times, and Salon. Her awards include The John Steinbeck Award, Tobias Wolff Award, HE Francis Award, all for fiction, and an honorable mention for the Annie Dillard Award for Non Fiction. Natalie received her MFA from Warren Wilson College, and she is currently working on a novel set in Boring, Oregon.

Brian Benson joins the Attic Institute as an Associate Fellow

Welcome, Brian!

Brian Benson is a proud alum of the 2011-12 Attic Atheneum. A former Spanish instructor and nonprofit organizer, he has taught extensively in classroom and experiential settings. His first book, Going Somewhere, a memoir about a cross-country bike trip and the search for personal direction, will be published in early 2014.

Register for Brian's upcoming workshop

Emily Whitman joins the Attic Institute as Associate Fellow

Welcome, Emily!

Emily Whitman writes books for children and teens. Her YA Wildwing won the 2012 Oregon Book Award for Young Adult Literature and was a Bankstreet College Best Children’s Book. Radiant Darkness was #1 on the IndieBound Kid’s Next List, selected by independent booksellers, and was an Oregon Book Award finalist. Emily has taught at writing conferences including the Pacific Northwest Children’s Book Conference and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Oregon Conference, and she writes poetry, prose and nonfiction for educational publishers. She’s currently at work on a Middle Grade novel.

Register for Emily's next workshop

Attic Institute president David Biespiel steps down as poetry columnist after 11 years

His column in the Oregonian was the longest running newspaper column about poetry in the United States

Read David Biespiel's last column on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013

The first piece of prose I ever wrote about poetry in a daily newspaper was in 1989 for the old Book World section of The Washington Post. Egged on by an insipid poetry review the Post had recently published, I wrote to the editor, Michael Dirda, to offer my services as a new reviewer and pitched some books.

This was audacious of me, for sure. I was 25 years old. And I'd never written a poetry review before.

"How do I know you're not married to one of these people?" he asked in a subsequent phone call before assigning, on spec, a roundup of five books that included new work by Louise Gl£ck, James Dickey, Lucille Clifton and others. Thus my career writing about poetry in newspapers began.

Read the entire final column

A dozen Attic Institute faculty and writers set to read at Wordstock 2013

Check out Attic Institute faculty and writers October 5-6 at the Oregon Convention Center.

Saturday Oct 5

2pm: David Biespiel reads from his new book, Charming Gardeners

4pm: Stacy Bolt, former Atheneum Fellow, reads from her new book, Breeding in Captivity: One Woman's Unusual Path to Motherhood.

Sunday Oct 6

11am: Whitney Otto reads from her new book, Eight Girls Taking Pictures.

11am: David Melville, JoAnna Prahl, Shelley Stearns, former Atheneum fellows read poetry. 

12pm: Andrea Hollander reads from her new book, Landscape with Female Figure: New & Selected Poems, 1982 - 2012.

12pm: Elizabeth Rusch reads from her new book, The Mighty Mars Rovers.

1pm: Ariel Gore reads from her new book, The End of Eve: A Memoir.

3pm: Karen Karbo reads from her new book, Julia Child Rules.

3pm: Paulann Petersen reads from her new book, Understory.

Plus: 

Cheryl Strayed is the keynote speaker on Thurusday, Oct 3, at the Mission Theater on NW Glisan.

Attic Institute president David Biespiel to read from new book at Powell's on Hawthorne

Book launch for Charming Gardeners by David Biespiel

Thursday, October 10, 7:30pm

Powell's on Hawthorne | 27th and SE Hawthorne

The poems in David Biespiel's new collection, Charming Gardeners (University of Washington), explore the "insistent murmurs" of memory and the emotional connections between individuals and history, as well as the bonds of brotherhood, the ghosts of America's wars, and the vibrancy of love.

Order a copy of Charming Gardeners

 

Paula Bohince joins the Attic Institute as a Teaching Fellow for Fall 2013

This Fall...take an online poetry workshop with award-winning poet, Paula Bohince.

Teaching Fellow Paula Bohince is the author of two poetry collections, both from Sarabande Books: The Children and Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods, which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her poems appear in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The TLS, Poetry, Granta, The Nation, Slate, Poetry London, Poetry Ireland Review, Raritan, Salmagundi, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She received the 2013 George Bogin Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She served as the 2012 Dartmouth Poet in Residence at The Frost Place, the 2010-2011 Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholar, a 2009 Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, and the 2008 Amy Clampitt Resident Fellow. She has received the "Discovery"/The Nation Award and the Grolier Poetry Prize. She holds an MFA from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the New School, and elsewhere.

Register for Paula's online workshops

"On Voice" by Merridawn Duckler, Senior Fellow

On Voice

It always makes me smile when writers ask, “But what about my voice?” As if this was some exterior appendage that could be found or lost. I do understand the question because voice is an extraordinary source of power for any writer. Your voice is what ultimately reaches the reader. You don’t have to learn how to create it because it is already present and furthermore, your voice is unique as a fingerprint. It is also just as humble and available. 

When writers in my workshops read their work out loud, in their modulations, hesitations, stumbles and commands, I hear how they are already working out what they want to say and how they want to say it. I hear where they’re keeping matters from me, and also from themselves. I encourage all writers to read their work out loud as they write and also to read other writers out loud, writers whom they admire as a way of understanding  how all the elements of an admirable piece comes together. Will reading your work out loud make you a better writer? Probably. Will it fix all your structural problems? No. For that you have to learn to listen. 

Now if a writer in my workshop should say, “Merridawn, but where is my ear?” I’d consider that a really good question.

Merridawn Duckler is a senior fellow at the Attic Institute. 

Register for a workshop with Merridawn Duckler

'Poetry on Broadway' opens September 23

Portland's new downtown poetry reading series with some of the city and the nation's best poets.

The Portland Center for Performing Arts has partnered with the Attic Institute to present Poetry on Broadway - a free poetry series in the heart of downtown Portland at PCPA in the rotunda of Antoinette Hatfield Hall at SW Main & Broadway.

September 23: Linda Bierds

October 14: Paulann Petersen & Zack Schomburg

January 20: Rick Barot & Floyd Skloot

February 24: Camille Dungy & Crystal Williams 

May 19: Wendy Willis & Katrina Roberts

The readings take place at 8pm across the alley from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall with a reception at the ArtBar & Bistro (1111 SW Broadway). 

4th Annual Atheneum Faculty Reading | September 5, 7pm | Broadway Books

Attic Atheneum Faculty Reading

This year's Atheneum faculty reading and Atheneum fellows induction brings this ground-breaking master writing program into its fourth year.

 

Atheneum Faculty  

David Biespiel | Karen Karbo | Greg Robillard

Merridawn Duckler | Wendy Willis | Lee Montgomery

 

The reading takes place at Broadway Books in Northeast Portland, 7p, Thursday, on September 5. Reading is free and open to the public.

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Notes from David Biespiel, President of the Attic Institute

 

Letter 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."

 

Farewell commentary as editor of Poetry Northwest: " A Sense of Form and A Sense of Life"

"I realize now that the divide between Modernist American poetry and, let's call it, Rilkean American poetry is largely unnecessary. Poetry can be both a repository of wisdom and contain revolutionary feeling -- even in the same poem."

 

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."