'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 www.thetheoryofeverythingbook.com.

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

Take advantage of pre-order discounts for David Biespiel's forthcoming book

Charming Gardeners

by David Biespiel 

The formally nuanced and wise epistolary poems in David Biespiel’s new collection are grounded in friendship, camaraderie, and the vulnerability and boldness that defines America.

Roving from the old Confederacy of Biespiel's native South to Portland, Oregon, Charming Gardeners explores the wildness of the Northwest, the avenues of Washington, D.C., the coal fields of West Virginia, and an endless stretch of airplanes and hotel rooms from New York to Texas to California.

These poems 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, sex, and intimacy. We are offered poems addressed to family, friends, poets, and political rivals — all in a masterful idiom Robert Pinsky has called Biespiel’s “own original grand style.”


Amazon: 34% off  | B&N: 32% off

Powell's: Pre-order  |  UW Press: Pre-order


"Ten Reasons for Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Novels" by Emily Whitman

Teaching Fellow Emily Whitman is teaching the Writing Middle Grade and Young Adult Novels workshop this summer, Sep 12 - Oct 10. 

Register now

Here she invites you into the process.


Sometimes people ask me why I write books for kids and teens. Telling them all the reasons would take longer than they’ve bargained on. So I’ve made a list. Maybe I should keep copies in my bag to hand out as needed.

  1. Kids don’t settle for boring. You need to keep your story moving, the voice fresh, the world alive.
  2. Your protagonist is a kid or a teen. That means—
  3. Everything is changing. Friends. School. Bodies. Family. The world. That’s a lot of low-hanging fruit, ripe for the grabbing. After all, fiction hinges on moments of change.
  4. Faced with this change, your hero doesn’t have the experience to know if things will turn out all right. He’s dealing with a choice and its consequences for the very first time. First times are like standing on top of a cliff wondering whether you’ll survive the jump. That terror and exhilaration fuel your story.
  5. Terror? Exhilaration? That’s right, you remember when you were a kid. You still have access to the feelings, discoveries, and experiences of that time in your life. Your character can channel that intensity. Like the great editor Ursula Nordstrom said when asked about her qualifications to work on books for kids, “Well, I am a former child, and I haven’t forgotten a thing.” 

"Word to Poem" by Catie Bull

Teaching Fellow Catie Bull is teaching the Made of Words poetry workshop this summer, June 30 – July 28. 

Register now

Here she invites you into the process.


I was flipping through my Dictionary of Contrasting Pairs this morning, because the radio keeps playing a song that says, "The opposite of love's indifference," which has me thinking about opposites, traditional and re-defined. And I came across the entry for "austral/septentrional," which I now know are rareish equivalents of north and south when used adjectivally (so a 'septentrional state' is a northern country, an 'austral wind' a south wind). 

Which is cool, if pretty obscure, but the entry also had this tidbit about Australia: "The 'southern' sense of 'austral' lies behind the name of Australia, which was marked on maps in classical times, when its existence was only conjectured, as Terra incognita australis, 'the unknown southern land.'"

Atheneum Class of 2013 Retreat is a huge success


Congratulations to Atheneum Fellows (class of 2013) for an amazing two-day retreat this weekend at the Attic Institute. 

Upcoming Atheneum Events

Applications for class of 2014 due by May 31.

Atheneum Reading on June 6, 6:30pm, at Stonehenge Studios.

Atheneum Reading on June 13, 6:30pm, at Stonehenge Studios 3508 SW Corbett.

June 2013: New Atheneum Fellows announced.

More information about the Attic Atheneum master writing program

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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."