PDX Writers' League: Next Session Starts Sep 26

PDX Writers' League is a program of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters that provides an amazing experience in creative writing, focusing on three essential elements: imagination, metaphor, and story. The workshop is open to all writers in all genres.

PDX Writers' League's brief, affordable workshops meet the needs of the emerging writer. The motto of the PDX Writers' League is “Write another one.” The philosophy allows writers to engage, explore, and immerse yourself in the physical pleasure of writing, knowing that other workshops are available later for revision, critique, and further development of original pieces.

PDX Writers' League emphasizes the importance of the practice of writing regularly, even if this means simply writing a single word, and then another one.

Learn more

Kate Carroll de Gutes joins the Attic Institute as Adjunct Fellow in Creative Writing

Recipient of 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Memoir and the Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction

We are pleased to welcome (back) Kate Carroll de Gutes to the Attic Institute. Kate Carroll de Gutes is a wry observer and writer who started her career as a journalist and then got excited by new journalism which became creative nonfiction and is now called essay (personal, lyric, and otherwise). Kate's book, Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, won the 2016 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and a 2016 Lambda Literary Award in Memoir. She was also one of the creators of the Attic Institute's Life Sketches program.

Learn more about Kate Carroll de Gutes
Register for one of her workshops this fall

ANNOUNCEMENT | Meet the 2016-2017 Atheneum Fellows

Congratulations! Joining the Atheneum this year are 12 new writers in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. 

An annual certificate program, the Attic Atheneum melds independent study under close faculty supervision, student receptions, public readings, and other special Atheneum events created around good food and great conversation, dialogue, and literary community.

2016-2017 Atheneum Fellows

Fiction: Jennifer Nevers, Graham Paterson, Mericos Hector Rhodes, Andrea Rodriguez

Nonfiction: Kali Abel, Betsy Bertram, Caitlin Collins, Christa Kaainoa

Poetry: Delia Garigan, Anne Griffin, Marvin Lurie, Phil Meehan

Learn more about the Atheneum Master Writing Program

Acclaimed Writer Zahir Janmohamed joins the Attic Institute as Adjunct Fellow

Congratulations to acclaimed writer and journalist, Zahir Janmohamed, for joining the faculty as an Adjunct Fellow. Zahir Janmohamed's writing has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, Boston Review, Guernica, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, Racialicious, and many other publications. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, where he was the inaugural recipient of the Anne Cox Chambers fellowship for long-form journalism, as well as from the VONA workshop for writers of color. He previously worked in the United States Congress, where he was a senior foreign policy advisor, and at Amnesty International.

Learn more about Zahir Janmohamed
Register for one of his workshops this fall

Poets Studio | Applications due Sep 10

Pour the poet into the art and the art into the poet.

Poets Studio is based on the idea that focusing on goals is the key to lasting growth as poet. Poets Studio is a weekly workshop that runs from October 1 - May 31 each year. It is designed to give form and focus to your poetry writing. The Poets Studio is open to applications from all poets. Poets join the Poets Studio for the entire 30-week session. This creates the Poets Studio's special experience: a steady, supportive, and comprehensive study of your poetry among other poets.

Learn more and apply to the Poets Studio at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

The CNF Studio | Applications due August 31

Write what you know you want to know.

The Creative Nonfiction Studio is based on the idea that inspiration, accountability, and community are essential to every writer’s growth. The CNF Studio meets weekly for three-month (11-week) sessions, and its curriculum is designed to help you deepen your writing through a keener understanding of both literary craft and your own voice. The CNF Studio is open to applications from all writers, and members often return for multiple sessions. This creates the Studio’s special experience: a consistent, deep, and supportive study of your writing in the company of other writers.

Learn more and apply to the CNF Studio at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

2016 Atheneum Fellows Year-End Readings | June 7 | June 14 | Stonehenge Studios

11 fellows in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry read from their new writing

June 7: Emily Gillespie, Ryan Meranger, Joanna Rose, Wally Schaefer, Candice Schutter

June 14: Celia Carlson, Carolyn O’Doherty, Leslie Knight, Rich Perin, Jasmine Pittinger, Emily Rose Williams

The free readings begin at 7pm at Stonehenge Studios, 3508 SW Corbett Ave

ANNOUNCING 2016 SUMMER WRITING/TEACHING FELLOWS

Writing Fellows at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters include some of the best emerging and established writers in the Portland area. The Fellows offer Attic students a fresh literary experience geared to your writing and writing goals. Workshops offered by the following writers will be announced soon.

M. Allen Cunningham
Susan DeFreitas
Edward Derby
Patrick Dundon
Peter Field
Zahir Janmohamed
Sara Rivara
Kristin Walrod

David Biespiel joins Ursula K. Le Guin and Barry Lopez among writers to win an OBA in more than one genre

David Biespiel wins Oregon Book Award in General Nonfiction.

Congratulations to the Attic Institute's David Biespiel for winning the Oregon Book Award last night in general nonfiction for his book, A Long High Whistle: Selected Columns on Poetry. The book collects 11 years of David's writing on poetry in the book review of the Oregonian — making his the longest-running column on poetry in an American newspaper. The column ran from 2003-2014. This is David's second Oregon Book Award, having accomplished the rare feat of winning in two categories. He previously won the 2010 OBA in poetry for The Book of Men and Women. This new award puts him in the company of other writers who have won an OBA in more than one genre, including Ursula K. Le Guin, Barry Lopez, Tracy Daugherty, Floyd Skloot, Graham Salisbury, Eric Kimmel, among others. Congratulations to all the winners, finalists, publishers, and our friends at Literary Arts that sponsor the Oregon Book Awards each year. (Photo: Heather Brown)

Check out: A Long High Whistle

Read the Winning Entries in the Attic's Winter Writing Competition!

In February, we announced our Winter Writing Contest. The theme? "Unrepentant." We wanted pieces about shamelessness, moxie, brass, nerve. The writing community delivered! We received a proverbial mail basket full of strong submissions. From among them, our judges, David Biespiel (poetry) and Greg Robillard (prose), selected six winning entries - two short stories, two essays, and two poems - as well as three runners up. Without further ado, here they are! The winning pieces and their authors appear below.

Attic Institute president David Biespiel introduces Wendell Berry in New York for NBCC Lifetime Achievement Award

David Biespiel, president of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters, is seen here introducing Wendell Berry on March 17, 2016, at the New School in New York. The recipient of the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016, Wendell Berry, 81, is an influential poet, essayist, environmentalist, activist, critic and farmer. For more than 40 years he has farmed a hillside in Henry County, Kentucky, where he was born in 1934. He is the author of more than 50 books, including his most recent essay collection, “Our Only World.”

Speaking to the large audience of writers, editors, and publishers, Biespiel said:

It has been my privilege to chair the Ivan Sandrof committee this year. The Ivan Sandroff award is named for a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle. The award honors significant and sustained contributions to Amerian literary culture.

How I Got Published: a Chat with Jennifer Dorner

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with poet Jennifer Dorner about submitting poems for publication. Dorner's poetry has appeared in The Timberline Review, VoiceCatcher, and is forthcoming in Verseweavers, and she has received literary awards from Willamette Writers and the Oregon Poetry Association. Dorner was a 2013-14 Atheneum Fellow at the Attic Institute. She coordinates the Attic’s popular monthly all-genre open mic, Fridays on the Boulevard, and co-founded the Vault Voices reading series.

How did you make the decision to start sending out your poems? How did you know you were ready? In 2011, I came back to writing after some time away from it. I attended classes and readings for two years until my teacher – I was taking a class then – said he thought I should send to a local online journal (VoiceCatcher). I'm so grateful John Morrison gave me that push. Later, I saw him at a reading downtown, and he gave me some advice: Take 20 of my best poems, divide them into groups of 5, and send them out.  That was in October; by January I was meeting with a friend, and spent a year sending work out.

Writing Prompt: Showing Off

This week’s prompt is “showing off.” Think wheelies and high dives; the splashiest engagement ring; the baddest car. What motivates this exhibitionist? Do they succeed in winning over their audience? Try speaking in their voice. 

Decide how long you want to write (10 minutes? an hour?). And go! 

A Visit to a Write Around Portland Workshop

We all go through phases when the words come slowly, when there are plenty of false starts and lots of jumping up to pour another cup of coffee or fetch a sweater. 

So what a relief to sit down at a table and hear someone say briskly, “OK, we’re going to do a 2-minute write.” All of us at the Write Around Portland (WAP) workshop happily took out pens and notebooks.

“You have a choice,” our facilitator, Ed, said to the group. “Before I go to sleep tonight…, or I’m happy to see…. You can write about either one. Or if you prefer, I have an envelope with alternate writing prompts that you can use instead.” There wasn’t time to agonize about it: we all put pen to paper and wrote.

A Visit to the Attic's Unique Open Mic Event

On a recent, soggy night, I took refuge at Fridays on the Boulevard, the Open Mic event that the Attic has been hosting on the first Friday of the month for the last three years. 

 
I arrived to find the South Library transformed with rows of chairs; soon, all the places were full and it was standing room only. "Reading or listening?" a volunteer asked me. Those who wanted to share their work put their names in a hat, and seven were drawn. 

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 . . . 

Read the article

Associate Fellow Wendy Willis's major essay on place has been reprinted in the July/August issue of the Utne Reader.

Where Are You From?

Reconnecting to the places we live by Wendy Willis, from Oregon Humanities 

"Recently, driving home from a soccer game in the pouring rain, I looked into the rearview mirror and asked my two young and very wet daughters, “If someone from another country asked you where you were from, what would you say?”

Without a heartbeat’s hesitation, they responded in unison, “Portland, Oregon.” I drew a sharp breath. For them, it’s not even a question to ponder. When I am asked, I always say, “I live in Portland, but I’m from Springfield, Oregon—from East Lane County.” When my husband is asked, he always answers, “Harris County, Texas,” though he was born in Tulsa, has lived in a dozen states, and has bounced around the same two zip codes in Southeast Portland for more than fifteen years."

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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."