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.

Let's Talk Grief, Let's Talk Hope


Accalimed novelist, Jesmyn Ward, has a breathtaking personal essay up on Vanity Fair. 

In "On Witness and Respair: A Personal Tragedy Followed by Pandemic," Ward documents the unspeakable grief of losing her partner during the early stages of the pandemic and the startingly hope of the social justice movements that followed her loss.

If there is one personal essay that you need to read about our current events—this should be it. 

Oregon Writer With Published Work?

The submission deadline for the 2021 Oregon Book Awards is October 23rd, 2020

Alongside recieving financial support, winners and finalists attend the Oregon Book Awards Ceremony and are also invited to travel for the Oregon Book Awards Author Tour.

Follow this link for the entry form and guidelines. 

"Oregon Book Awards program honors the state’s finest accomplishments by Oregon writers who work in genres of poetry, fiction, graphic literature, drama, literary nonfiction, and literature for young readers." -Literary Arts

Virtual Book Tour for David Biespiel's Highly-Anticipated Memoir

Here's a treat. Read a sneak peek of an exclusive excerpt from the opening of Attic Institute founder David Biespiel's new book, A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory, and Texas

Starred Reviews and high praise are coming in for this "poignantly eloquent memoir" from Kirkus Reviews, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and others. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky calls A Place of Exodus a "surprising, heartbreaking, and inspiring story." 

Order at: BookshopPowellsAnnie Bloom's BooksBroadway BooksAmazon, or wherever you love to buy books from independent booksellers.

New Writing Fellows Join the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters Online Faculty

Beginning in August, writers are now fortunate to take workshops with three inspiring Writing Fellows.

Elinam Agbo was born in Ghana and grew up in Kansas. A graduate of the Clarion Workshop, she holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program. She is also a winner of the 2018 PEN/Dau Short Story Prize, a 2019 Aspen Words Fellow, and a recipient of the honorable mention prize for fiction in the 2019 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. She lives in Ann Arbor, where she is an Assistant Editor at Michigan Quarterly Review and co-founder of MQR Mixtape. 



Zahir Janmohamed lives in Ann Arbor. He is a Zell Writing Fellow at the University of Michigan, where he completed an MFA in fiction and received awards in fiction, non-fiction, poetry, and playwriting. He is also the co-founder of the James Beard nominated podcast Racist Sandwich. His articles have been published in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Nation, Guernica, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, and many other publications. He has received fellowships and scholarships from MacDowell, Bread Loaf, Kundiman, and VONA. Prior to beginning his writing career, he worked in the US Congress and at Amnesty International. 


Thea Chacamaty is a fiction writer living in Portland, Oregon. She received her MFA in prose from the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers' Program, where in 2019-2020 she was a postgraduate Zell Fellow. She has been a recipient of the Henfield Prize from the Joseph McCrindle Foundation, a Hopwood Award, the Kasdan Prize, and her writing has appeared in the Missouri Review.











Huge Book Sale: Donations to BLM and others

The weekend of June 12-14 the Attic sold or donated thousands of books to our Attic Institute, Portland, and Oregon communities. Thank you to everyone who bought books in support.

From sales of books, we donated $500 to Don't Shoot Portland, a Portland accountability group formed to scrutinize actions of the Portland Police Bureau.

We donated over 800 books of poetry to the Oregon State Hospital, which provides patient-centered, psychiatric treatment for adults from throughout the state who need hospital-level care.

We donated over 250 books of nonfiction to Street Books, a bicycle-powered mobile library, serving people who live outside in Portland.

How We're Responding In This Time Of Need | A Letter from Founder David Biespiel

June 7 2020

Everyday, for some twenty years now, I've always had a good feeling walking up the narrow stairwell to the Attic Institute's offices and libraries, where our writing workshops take place. It's always exciting to enter this haven for writers, a place of so many literary struggles and triumphs. And, it's always inspiring to be greeted by the special message for writers from Walt Whitman that is stenciled on the wall at the top of the stairs -- 

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.  

You must travel it by yourself.  

It is not far. It is within reach.  

Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. 

I'm excited about our upcoming Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 seasons of workshops -- all online, of course. Already the first of dozens of new workshops for the fall are open for registration, as well as summer workshops. Soon, over the next few weeks, we'll be adding new fall workshops from new faculty from around the country -- a first for the Attic. 

Since we migrated all our Portland workshops to Zoom back in March, already over 150 writers, from as far as Alaska to Pennsylvania, have registered and participated.

At the same time, it's with a heavy heart that I am giving you the news today that on July 1, we will be moving out of our location because of the public health crisis. We're going to miss our wonderful, funky, brick building on Hawthorne Boulevard so much, a place we proudly think of as the birthplace of Portland's literary renaissance. 

Sadly, social-distancing and intimate in-person writing workshops don't go together. 

Anguish and Action: A Statement from Attic Institute of Arts and Letters 

In the days since George Floyd's death, it is impossible not to feel grief for his family--and outrage, revulsion, and vexation that his death is the latest in a long line of tragedy and injustice, and an agonizing reminder that a person's race still determines how they will be treated in almost every aspect of American life. 

No one deserves to die the way George Floyd did. Truth is, if you're white in America, the chances are you won't.  

That truth is what underlies the pain and the anger that so many of us--faculty, staff, and students--at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters are feeling and expressing, that the path of an entire life can be measured and devalued by the color of one's skin. 

Over 1,000 people are killed by police every year in America, and Black people are three times more likely to be killed than White people. 

We, at the Attic Institute, join the call for reforms to combat police violence and systemic racism within law enforcement. 

At the Attic Institute, we believe stories help us make sense of the world. And we believe that we all can and must do more to listen to and amplify the stories of people who have suffered the legacy of racial oppression and violence that has festered throughout the history of the United States.

ONLINE: Self-Portraits: Writing from Life w David Biespiel | May 31 | 9am-4pm

This workshop, led by Attic Institute founder David Biespiel, is the kind of study every writer needs, from beginners to the most advanced. It's an opportunity to write from studying your own self-portrait via photos, drawings, snapshots, b&ws, candids, distortions, &c. The workshop approach empahsizes the concept of obseravtional writing as a direct route to achieve new imaginative possibilities, whether you're writng fiction, memoir, or poems. The approach demands careful observation and the translation of those observations into clear and precise notes, jottings, and studies. Self-portrait writing is one of the foundational skill sets that all writers should practice. It hones your concentration on details and the language that comes from those details, and it releases you into new zones for your memories and projections to emerge. Our focus will be almost entirely on making new pieces of writing with hardly any time dedicated to critique or revision. Included in your tuition is a signed copy of the tenth anniversary edition of David's book, Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces, with a Foreword by Chuck Palahniuk, which we will use as a "textbook" for the workshop. [Because this workshop is seven hours, there will be frequent, scheduled breaks to step away from the computer screen and rest.]

Register for this Workshop

NOTE: To protect everyone during the COVID-19 pandemic, we're offering this special course via Zoom. All students must first sign up for a free Zoom account. Setting it up is easy. And we can help you with questions, if needed. For each class, you'll receive a Zoom "invitation," from the instructor. Click the link...follow the simple directions about the settings for your microphone and in-computer video, and you're immediately in the "room" for the workshop. For critique workshops, instructors will communicate with students about the process of sharing work. For more generative workshops, students will be writing together while on Zoom.

This workshop will have frequent breaks to ease the strain of working online for so many hours, as well as breakout sessions to work one-on-one or small groups.



JUST PUBLISHED: Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces (Tenth Anniversary Edition)

With a new Forword by Chuck Palahniuk

Publication date is March 20 for this classic book on writing. 

Attic founder David Biespiel cracks open the creative process and challenges traditional assumptions about writing that can stifle creativity.

Preorder this book

Powell's Books

Broadway Books



Save the date / Apr 21 / David Biespiel in Conversation with Matthew Dickman, Broadway Books, Portland, 7pm 

Ashley Toliver's SPECTRA named a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award

Congratulations to Adjunct Fellow in Poetry Ashley Toliver, whose first book of poems, Spectra (Coffee House Press), has been named a finalist for the prestigious Kate Tufts Discovery Award in Poetry. 

From "Spectra" —

Dear night possessor: your funeral barge rocked tight in the fisting water makes small winter melodies. The light ends a pattern we learned to stupefy by motion or admitting away. A statutory list puts the blame on the hour. You move as I move, whistling measures in salted grass, patient and guarded processions. At night, the line is a current to wade through: older names sifting past the flotsam, the water rising up to here.

Learn more about the book 

3 New Weekend Workshops

Whether you're new to writing or advanced, knowing how to concentrate on what you're alert to and how that gets put on paper is critical for writing success. Our Life Writing and Life Writing: End of Year Resolutions weekend workshops this fall break down the process and share tips, suggestions, techniques, and strategies. 

Plus: Poets Studio: Introduction. This special weekend workshop is for poets interested in applying to the Jan-June 2020 Poets Studio program. (Note: "Poets Studio: Introduction" enrollment is open to anyone whether you're thinking about Poets Studio for next year or not). Poets Studio is designed to give form and focus to your poetry writing. It's a steady, supportive, and comprehensive study of your poetry among other poets.

Learn more about weekend workshops at the Attic

20th Anniversary Reading

We Celebrate the Attic's Birthday!

Thank you to everyone who came out to Literary Arts in downtown Portland to celebrate the Attic's 20th anniversary with stellar readings by Associate Fellow Brian Benson and Attic students Craig Brandis, Iris Chung, Jennifer Dorner, and Valarie Rea.


Reedsy Launches Book Discovery Platform for Self-Published Authors

Since the the dawn of the current self-publishing revolution, says, startups across every aspect of the publishing process have come and gone. Some of these offered formatting, cover design, and editing; others promised to garner much-needed book reviews–legitimate ones or not. Other companies took authors’ money and promised beautiful print and ebook editions, while other companies provided digital enhancements like annotated reading, soundtracks, animation, and more.

But one thing that companies haven’t been able to deliver on is the promise of book discovery. Anybody–including the authors themselves–can make a really nice-looking book, and some companies can even put the book in front of a lot of reading consumers. No one, however, can make anyone actually purchase a book.

Book PR and marketing platforms share a fairly common feature: they’re expensive. Yes, there are a handful of reputable outlets helping to promote indie authors’ work for more manageable prices, but there are a lot of companies taking authors to the cleaners with the promise of increased exposure and discoverability.

Award-winning indie promotion platform Reedsy does appear to be offering both affordability and credibility with its newly launched Reedsy Discovery. Billed as a more functional Goodreads combined with the concept of NetGalley, this site engages readers and reviewers around indie titles. The cost to an author to submit a book for reviews, newsletter promotion, a custom sales page, and interactive listing is only $50, a far cry from what many companies charge for far less opportunity.

“More writers than ever are choosing to self-publish over the traditional route. They enjoy the business model and creative freedom. But then these writers struggle to find a market for their books,” said Emmanuel Nataf, CEO and co-founder of Reedsy. “Reedsy Discovery is the game-changing answer for indie authors seeking to match with both readers and reviewers. We want to make Discovery the go-to platform for any author looking to create momentum for their launch."

Get the full story here

Free Readings Celebrate Write Around Portland's 20th Year

2019 is a big year! Our own Attic Institute is turning 20, and so is Write Around Portland. WAP runs community-building creative writing workshops at hospitals, schools, homeless youth shelters, senior centers, low-income housing buildings, prisons, treatment facilities and social service agencies - so that people of all ages and backgrounds can come together, learn from one another and bond over what makes us uniquely human. 

And you can help them celebrate! Write Around Portland invites the public to attend one or both of their free community readings featuring powerful work written by participants in their spring 2019 writing workshops. Readers will include adults in recovery; youth in alternative high school and therapeutic school settings; youth experiencing homelessness; adults living with disabilities; members of low-income housing and assisted living communities and many others.

Admission to both readings is FREE, but donations of any amount are accepted to support the work of Write Around Portland. We will also be collecting donations of new journals for writers in our fall 2019 workshops. ADA-accessible. If other accommodations needed to attend, please contact the Write Around Portland office at 503-796-9224 one week before the scheduled event.

Reading 1
WHERE: First United Methodist Church, Collins Hall, 1838 SW Jefferson St, Portland, OR 97201 located at the Goose Hollow MAX stop.

WHEN: Thursday, May 16th, 6:30–8:30pm

Reading 2
WHERE: The Rosewood Initiative, 16126 SE Stark St, Portland, OR 97233 one block from the Max Blue Line. 

WHEN: Wednesday, May 22nd, 6:30–8:30pm

Copies of the anthology will be available for purchase for $12. 

Local Store Hosts a Book-Themed Escape Room

In the flurry of bookstore-related news, here's one we missed: the opening of Books Around the Corner at 40 NW 2nd Street in Gresham. In addition to the main attraction (books!), the store hosts a writer's group, readings by local authors, and several monthly bookclubs (all listed on their website). Oh - and they host a book-themed escape room.

An escape room (in case you have missed out on the recent craze) is a real-life adventure game in which you and your team assemble in a themed room and have one hour to complete your mission and "escape" the room. A successful escape requires you to find hidden clues and solve challenging puzzles throughout the room. Everywhere you look is a potential clue. But hurry! The clock starts ticking as soon as you enter the room. 

At Books Around the Corner, the escape room scenario begins like this: "you suddenly wake up, alone, in a darkened bookshop. What happened? To your dismay, the bookshop is closed and you find yourself locked in for the night. Then you remember, this is the bookshop that is haunted by a woman who had died when a bookshelf collapsed on her. The ghost, Rose, is said to be wandering the stacks. Work as a team to escape the bookshop before Rose gets you!" 

Email to reserve, or for more information. 

How to Link Up a Short Story Collection: Advice from "Craft"

Anyone interested in publishing a book of short stories has probably seen the advice: Submit to literary journals. Enter contests. Also, it may improve your odds of publication if the stories are linked together with a common element. Linked collections can share a subject, like Alison Lurie's Women and Ghosts or a setting, like the Vietnam War in The Things They Carried. Or they may revolve around the same main character, like Denis Johnson's Jesus' Son. It's up to the reader to discover these points of connection, to realize that the child of the first story is the old man of the last story. A linked collection is like a mysterious and disarticulated novel. 

But how does a writer go about creating (or uncovering) the connections between the stories? A recent article in Craft, How to Link Up a Short Story Collection, addresses this very question. 

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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."