AWP is This Week!

This week, from March 3rd-7th is this year's Annual AWP (virtual) Writing Conference!

Check out hundreds of panels, resources, and the bookfair throughout the week, but first, be sure to register here. For a full schedule of the conference, click here.  In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of some of the panels below:

The Work Room: Attend to Your Creativity Remotely

In response to the pandemic, The Shipman Agency has created a bounty of online craft workshops, seminars, and manuscript consultations to not only provide income for the authors they represent, but to provide invaluable resources to members of the literary community across the world.

In The Work Room, the Shipman Agency offers classes year-round, so if you don't see one you're intersted in now—check back later and often! Furthermore, they are also offering scholarships to cover all or a portion of the course registration fees for individuals unable to afford the price of attendance.

So if you've ever wanted to discuss writing with Shelia Heti, Ilya Kaminsky, David Shields, Patricia Smith and more, now is your chance.

For more information, email

The Biggest (Online) Writing Conference: AWP 2021

March is right around the corner which means so is this year's AWP Conference!

Running from March 3rd-7thAWP Conference & Bookfair is "the annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers of contemporary creative writing. It includes thousands of attendees, hundreds of events & bookfair exhibitors, and five days of essential literary conversation and celebration. The AWP Conference & Bookfair has always been a place of connection, reunion, and joy, and we are excited to offer the same experience in a new way this year."

Better yet, this year's conference is entirely virtual. Not only does that mean that the bookfair and the panels are more accessible than ever, but that the videos of the conference will be available on-demand until April 3rd.

Be sure to register and take advantage of being a member of the global literary community.

Fellow Feature: Brian Benson

Brian Benson

Brian Benson, former Attic student and current Attic fellow, talks generously about writing, Portland, and his book This is Not for You that is out this month.

Sign up for his upcoming workshop "Craft of Memoir" here.

Order This is Not for You from OSU Press here

**Over fifty percent of the royalties earned on This Is Not for You will be donated to organizations working on behalf of Black Portlanders.

Want to learn more about Brian? Check out his website to keep up to date.

Q: How are you?

A: I’m doing okay, thanks! I’m one of those weirdos who likes the gray and cold, so I’ve been doing alright with the COVID winter. Also, after a month or so off, I’m back to teaching, which is such a comfort; this past year especially, writing workshops have been my number-one antidote to loneliness. And I’m gearing up for the release of This Is Not for You, the memoir I wrote with and about Portland activist Richard Brown. After many months of monotony and dread, it’s nice to have something to look forward to. 

Don't Write Your Memoir Alone

Craft of Memoir w/ Brian Benson

"Whether you're just getting started or looking to improve your work-in-progress, this new workshop will help you translate your personal experiences into a vivid, absorbing memoir. Through a mix of discussion, guided exercises and peer critique, we'll explore the many ways to pull compelling, relatable stories from one's life story, and we'll read and discuss a wide variety of memoir for inspiration and insight. Students will leave the workshop with many reading recommendations and writing resources."

For more information, click here.

Show Your Poetry Some Love

Writing the New Poem Workshop w/ Ashley Toliver

"What happens when we expand our creative focus and let go of our expectations? In this workshop, we'll use writing practices and generative techniques, explore poems and strategies, all with the goal of completing the workshop with a handful of new poems. Can we find liberation from the pressures we place on ourselves and our work? Join the experiment and let's find out!"

For more information, click here.

Need A Poetic Recharge?

Other Inspirations Poetry Workshop w/ Matthew Dickman

"In this class we will be exploring Ekphrastic Poetry and looking to painting, photography and music as our inspiration. Can ekphrastic poetry be more than a reflection or comment on a piece of art? Can it be more than a beautiful description of another piece of art? We will find out together through looking at the paintings, photographs, and music that has inspired great poems-- as well as writing our own."

For more information, click here.

Do You Believe In Magic? Do You Write It?

Fairytales, Myth, and Dystopia: A Fiction Workshop w/ Elinam Agbo

"Snow White. The Round Table. Persephone and Hades. From hybrid prose to web comics and blockbusters, fairy tales and legends are constantly retold across mediums. Why do we continue to relate? How do they help us find meaning in uncertain times? What can we borrow from these forms to examine the past and future in light of climate change, migration, and capitalism? In this course, we will study writers like Helen Oyeyemi, Carmen Maria Machado, Sabrina Orah Mark, and Joy Williams. Then we will begin our own stories, inspired by existing lore. If you are drawn to cross-cultural myths, obscure tales, or the idea of Rapunzel on Mars, this is the class for you."

For more information, click here.

A Closer Look At Letters

The Letter as a Literary Form w/ Wendy Willis

A note from Wendy:

"Since quarantine began, I have written dozens of letters. I have relished the physicality of whisking paper and ink—via my favorite government agency—from my hands into the hands of friends and family members and colleagues. It has been a source of mammalian solace for sure, but it has also made me attend to letters in a new way. I realize that the “I” recounting the days at her desk is slightly different depending upon the “you” who will collect the letter at the mailbox. The stories are selected just for that particular “you;” the diction is different depending on who—mother? novelist-friend? best pal from high school?—is at the other end; the level of bawdiness is carefully monitored.

Not surprisingly, all this attention to my own letter writing has driven me back into the arms of literary letters—the stunning letters between writers (think: Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell or Anais Nïn and Henry Miller), as well as the incredible examples of epistolary literature like the melancholy letter at the heart of Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead or the incisive warning and indictment in the letter which comprised Between the World and Me by Ta-Nahesi Coates (inspired in part by an epistolary essay by James Baldwin). And the hundreds of epistolary poems that span the centuries from Ovid to Langston Hughes to Victoria Chang.

All that is to say that the world is contained in a letter, and—starting February 1st—we are going to explore that world as we dig deep into everything from consciousness to word choice to audience. We will read letters and write them and experiment with what they have to offer us as readers and as writers. So, I hope you’ll join us . . . or just let me know if you need a letter. (All genres and all experience levels are welcome)."

Register for Wendy's workshop here.

A Workshop For Beginning or Beginning Again

So You Wanna Be A Writer w/ Wayne Gregory

"You have a thousand stories inside your head. You dabble on the page but rarely if ever finish anything, much less share with others. “Is my work good enough?” you wonder.  “Do I have something original and interesting to say? What makes me think I can be a writer?”  The biggest obstacle for emerging writers is not lack of time nor lack of skill nor lack of things to write about. It’s a lack of self-confidence. This workshop is designed for those who want to be writers, but are not sure they can be.  It provides a safe space for you to explore your interest in writing within a community of others who are on the same journey of exploration that you are. You will have an opportunity to share your writing and receive feedback that will help you identify your creative strengths and build on them. If you have work to share, bring it. If you haven’t written anything, bring an open mind to the possibilities that the class may open for you. Learn about the craft and, in the process, discover what it is about you that makes your stories worth telling and makes you the only writer who can tell them."

This workshop starts on February 18th. For more information, click here.

Listen to Your Stomach

Last chance to register for this incredible workshop!

Telling Our Stories Through Food 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."

For more information, click here.

A Proper Farewell

As 2020 came to a close, LitHub published "Notable Literary Deaths of 2020" to honor the lives and mourn the deaths of the mutliple literary figures that we lost last year.

"Among the many unhappinesses of this year, we lost what seems like an unusually large number of members of the literary community, from poets to novelists to editors to critics to publishers to booksellers. To them, we say a last thank you, and goodbye. They will be missed."

$2000 Publication Opportunity for Emerging Essayists

Do you have an essay ready to send off for publication? Do you have three or fewer publications under your writerly belt?

If so, GAY MAG, edited by Roxane Gay, is launching a new publication opportunity for emerging nonfiction writers. Each month, Gay and her editors will publish an essay from emerging writers

twice a month starting January 2021. Each accepted submission will recieve $2,000.

For more information on submission guidelines, and other parameters, click here.

Melissa Febos on Her Body and Isolation

Featured in, Melissa Febos, essayist and nonfiction writer, comments on how her year of chosen celibacy gave her a lifeline of surprising skills to cope with the new pandemic-induced circumstances of isolation.

In "How a Year of Celibacy Prepared Me for Life in Quarantine," Febos examines the intricacy of her body's previous constant closeness to her partners and what happened to her when that closeness came to a stop. 

"I spent the better part of my thirty-sixth year intentionally celibate, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that—until that point—it was the best year of my life."

On Being A Lonely Human: Ottessa Moshfegh's Timely New Novel

In the New York Times feature, "Ottessa Moshfegh Is Only Human," Ottessa Moshfegh, author of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, talks about her newest novel, Death in Her Hands, and how it unwittingly became a book that closely reflects our current circumstances: loneliness and isolation.

"As unreliable as Moshfegh’s narrators are, as unstable, insecure and full of hate, they are also hellbent on pulling themselves out of their wretchedness, on saving themselves. What makes Moshfegh’s characters most human is that they don’t give up."

Order Death in Her Hands from here to support local bookstores.

Start Your New Year With Short Stories

Short Fiction Workshop w/ Thea Chacamaty

"Alice Munro says, "A short story is not like a's more like a house." Do you want to write a short story, but you're not sure where to start? Or how to finish? In this craft-focused course we will write a short story from start to finish by studying the architectures of great short stories by authors like Alice Munro, Edward P. Jones, Frederick Busch, Lesley Arimah, and others. We will read short stories and dissect how they are constructed to determine how writers make their careful choices, and to what effect. Each week, we will focus on specific craft elements centered around form: plot, scene, and story shape. Along the way, targeted writing exercises will aid us in our efforts, as we share and critique one another's writing. By the fifth week, we will have a first draft to critique and revise."

For more information, click here.

Revisit Your Poetry This January

Don't miss your chance to register for these upcoming poetry workshops!

Life of the Poem Workshop w/ Matthew Dickman

"When is a poem truly finished? In this class we are going to decide ahead of time! We will follow the "Life" of a single poem. We will write our first draft on day one and develop, explore, and revise it on subsequent days until the last day when we put our pens down and reveal our final draft."

For more information, click here.



Poetry of the Ecstatic Unknown Workshop w/ Ashley Toliver

"In this class, we’ll approach writing as an emergent process, using Gertrude Stein’s famous line, “And then there is using everything” as our guide and north star. Each session, we’ll work to connect with the inherent and subtle creativity of the body through exercises designed to help us cross the threshold to what is unknown..."

For more information, click here.

Don't Miss These January Workshops

Creating a Writer's Notebook: Artifact and Mulch w/ Wendy Willis

"In this two-day workshop, we will explore the practice of creating and sustaining a writer's notebook. On the first day, we will begin to use a notebook to catch the wisps of our days and uncover the musings of the deep imagination.  Two weeks later, we will come together to discover how the raw material in the notebook can be transformed into finished pieces of writing. This workshop will have frequent breaks to ease the strain of working online for so many hours, as well as timed writings by hand (again, to ease the time on the computer), and breakout sessions to work one-on-one or small groups."

For more information, click here.

Seconds to Centuries: Managing Time in Short Fiction w/ Elinam Agbo

"In Tobias Wolff’s very short “Bullet in the Brain,” a second blooms into years. Generational wounds carry great influence in Lesley Nneka Arimah’s “The Future Looks Good,” and Alice Munro guides us through memory in “The Bear Came Over the Mountain.” How does a single decision echo across lifetimes? How do time and mortality connect strangers? In this workshop, we will expand and dilute moments in our fiction, learning from those who do it best."

For more information, click here.

Attic Feature: Carol Hendrickson

Carol Hendrickson

Meet Carol. She's the Attic's Assistant to the President. She keeps the Attic running from behind the scenes.

Q: How are you?

A: I’m doing well and determined to not let this COVID-19 thing be the end of me.  I’ll be one of the first in line for a vaccine once they are widely available.  I live with my sweet Burmese rescue cat “Elsa” (she has no tail) in a townhouse in the Orenco Station area of Hillsboro, a community with myriad walking trails that I love to utilize.  Everything I need is nearby, but I do miss dining and socializing with friends.  A long-planned Roads Scholar trip to Amsterdam during tulip season was cancelled.  I also miss ballroom dance classes, driving to the Attic on Hawthorne Blvd. twice a week to work with David Biespiel, and occasionally for in-person workshops.  Joining some of the Attic’s online workshops this year has been a wonderful way to keep busy, and as an added bonus, I’ve finally gotten to know some of the many Attic writers whose names I was long familiar with.

Ethically Shop Online for Books

" is an online bookstore with a mission to financially support local, independent bookstores.

If you want to find a specific local bookstore to support, find them on our map and they’ll receive the full profit off your order. Otherwise, your order will contribute to an earnings pool that will be evenly distributed among independent bookstores (even those that don’t use Bookshop)." 

#BoxedOut: Publishers in the Pandemic Pt. 2

"Notebook: Boxed out (Part Two)" continues Book Post's meditation on the increasingly rocky terrain of book publishing and book selling in the midst of the pandemic.

"Indie bookselling, in short, may not always serve the immediate bottom line as much as a mega-bestseller, but it is vital to the reading ecosystem: not only supporting a range of writers and publishers (and ideas) but selling the books that are cultivating the careers and the readers that publishing will need for the fertile backlists of the future."


#BoxedOut: Independent Bookstores vs. Amazon and the Pandemic Pt. 1


Book Post shared an interesting article about the changing fate of independent bookstores as they reckon not only with Amazon, but with the economic impacts of the pandemic.

In "Notebook: Boxed Out (Part One)," the same advertising team responsible for selling Payless shoes to shoe-influencers for hundreds of dollars, started a new campaign to draw attention to local bookstores during the holiday season.

"The boxes were tagged with lines like 'Our WiFi is free—please don’t use it to make a $1.6 trillion company even richer' and 'Books curated by real people, not a creepy algorithm that wants you to buy deodorant' and mock book covers like To Kill a Locally Owned Bookstore and Little Women Who Own Bookstores And Are Getting Priced Out By Giant Warehouse Retailers."

Fellow Feature: Zahir Janmohamed

Zahir Janmohamed

Last week, Zahir Janmohamed, a previous Attic student and current Attic fellow, answered a few questions about his life as a working writer. As a renowned essayist/playwright/poet/short story writer and more, Zahir imagines genre and the teaching of writing not only as necessary practices but as creative exercises.

This January, he is teaching a workshop called "Telling Our Stories Through Food."

A link to Zahir's full bio can be found here. A link to his website can be found here.

Q: How are you?

A: Ecstatic. I knew I would be relieved to see Trump lose, but I did not think the feeling   would be this good. A friend said it best: we can finally go days, even weeks, without thinking or worrying about what the US president does. Imagine that!


PBF Highlight: Natalie Diaz & Live Wire Radio

Portland Book Festival is in full swing! Here is one event that should be on your radar.

On Friday, November 20th, from 12:00-12:45pm PST, Natalie Diaz will talk about her new poetry collection, Postcolonial Love Poem, with Live Wire Radio. 

"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

Register for the free live-stream discussion and read more about Postcolonial Love Poem. You can even RSVP for an email reminder to be sent to you on the day of the event.

Even better, Elena Passarello, writer & associate professor at Oregon State University, will be announcing the event for Live Wire Radio!

Special Submission Opportunity for Attic Writers

Hello Attic writers!

Read below for an exciting submission opportunity:

For their sixth issue, Buckman Journal is offering an exclusive open call for submissions for writers affliated with the Attic. The sixth issue is due to be released in June 2021 and they are accepting short fiction, flash fiction, and creative nonfiction.

For more information on the submission process, email

In the meantime, check out Buckman Journal's beautiful website here.

Write Around Portland: Free and Low-Cost Creative Writing Workshops

Writing is often thought of as something done in isolation; we know there is immense power when writing is done in community. Join us for creativity and community-building, with generative writing exercises, sharing and strengths-based feedback. Write Around Portland's workshop model, refined over 22 years, is proven for people of all writing levels: from the budding writer to the published author. 

Bi-Weekly Online Writing Workshop

  • Wednesdays: 4-5:30pm
  • Thursdays: 11 am-12:30 pm
Sliding Scale Fee*: $5-30 per person. ($0 registration also available for past Write Around Portland participants at a social service agency and people experiencing financial hardship due to the coronavirus.)

Workshops are held via Zoom. Weekly registration opens Monday at noon and closes one hour before the workshop. Click here for more workshop details

Portland Book Festival Starts This Week!

It's finally time for the 2020 Portland Book Festival! 

Running from November 5-21, the Portland Book Festival is offering hundreds of free events for you to enjoy. 

Even better, this year's festival is taking place virtually, so you can access all of the craft talks, author Q&A's, and more from the comfort of your own home.

Check out the festival's incredible author line-up and schedule here

Follow this link to register and ensure that you won't miss out on any of these literary events.

Don't Miss Out On A Workshop This Fall

There are still spots available in these incredible workshops this November—don't miss an opportunity to work on your writing before the end of the year.

  • Successful Methods and Habits of Composition with David Biespiel | Nov 1 | 9am-4pm. Learn more here.

  • Story Energy with Joanna Rose | Nov 7 - Dec 5. Learn more here.

  • Art of Personal Essay and Memoir with Lee Montgomery | Nov 7 - Dec 12. Learn more here.

  • Read a Poem, Write a Poem Workshop III with Matthew Dickman | Nov 16. Learn more here.

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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."