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.

John Morrison's Forms of Poetry Workshop | Sep 17 - Nov 19

Where is the deep music in poetry? What can our free verse cadences gain from a poet’s practical study of the underpinnings of poetry: form and meter? More than just learning the language of our poetic inheritance, we will explore form to “crack open” our own reluctant poems, and dance along with the beats and feet to discover our own rhythmic tendencies. 


Check out this course



Barry Johnson's Nonfiction Writing Workshop | Sep 19 - Oct 17


Sometimes our baggage—the trunks of shoulds and might haves, contradictory advice and criticism—can keep us from digging into our writing, because the confusion can be overwhelming. Oregon ArtsWatch and writer Barry Johnson will help you toss that junk overboard and start fresh with a practical approach to nonfiction writing. 


Check out this class


Shut Up and Sketchbook Workshop with Teaching Fellow Nathan Wade Carter | Sep 26 - Oct 24

We use a lot of excuses not to make art. “The paper is too nice. This journal was a gift. I don’t want to mess it up. I should do laundry instead.” We tell ourselves a lot of lies and a lot of unkind things that prevent us from making what we want to make. Shut Up & Sketchbook is an introduction to unconventional sketchbooking. 


Check out this class


Writing to Your Strengths Workshop with Teaching Fellow Brian Benson | Oct 2 - Oct 31

Every writer has their own set of strengths and "weaknesses," and the most unique, engaging work comes from those who know how to play to the latter and with the former. In this workshop, we'll look at the many ways successful authors write to their strengths, and we'll learn how to do the same with our own work

Check out this class


The Attic Institute stands for equality and justice.

Thank you for creating the Attic Institute's community of tolerance and fairness.

The Attic Institute is many things to many people. It's a writing studio, a literary think tank, and a school for creativity. It's a community of writers, thinkers, and creative individuals. It's a place in Portland where writers gather for support and inspiration. This Independence Day week, we celebrate the freedom to think and write freely in a country that stands for equality and justice. Thank you for making these ideals possible.

We hope to see you in a writing workshop soon. Celebrate artistic freedom in a workshop at the Attic Institute.

Congratulations to Attic student, Kari Luna, upon the publication of her book, "The Theory of Everything"

Kari Luna's novel is due out next month, July 2013

"One part Libba Bray's GOING BOVINE, two parts String Theory, and three parts love story equals a whimsical novel that will change the way you think about the world."

A student in Merridawn Duckler's workshops, Kari Luna writes stories, teaches yoga and eats apricots. She also covets cashmere sweaters, collects toys from the sixties and thinks soul music is the cure for everything. She lives in Portland, Oregon.  You can visit the fictional Sophie Sophia, read her blog, and download mixtapes at

The Wall Street Journal praises Associate Fellow Elizabeth Rusch's book ERUPTION

"Ms. Rusch's gripping account is full of details that will snag the interest of children ages 9 and older: that volcanic gases act like bubbles in a soda bottle; that a humming earthquake known as a "harmonic tremor" means magma is rising and boiling away groundwater; that a leading U.S. geologist wears Harry Potter glasses. Photographs throughout by Tom Uhlman illustrate the work that scientists are doing, but the most dramatic image—of a little blue truck beetling along a dirt road just ahead of boiling volcanic clouds—comes from Alberto Garcia, who took it when Mount Pinatubo erupted in the Philippines in 1991."  ~ Wall Street Journal

Read the whole story | Meet Elizabeth Rusch

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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."