Attic Institute welcomes Vanessa Veselka to the faculty

Author of the acclaimed first novel, Zazen.


"Veselka's prose is chiseled and laced with arsenic observations."  

— Publisher’s Weekly


"It's hard to write about Zazen for the same reasons it’s hard to write about despair, about pain and about redemption. And there are very few American writers who have managed to pull it off without sentiment or cliche. Veselka is one of them, however, and she’s bound to have a brilliant career. Zazen is a masterpiece. It is not just a novel about pain; it is a novel against pain.


— Bookslut


Learn more about Vanessa

Register for a class with Vanessa

Attic Institute's director David Biespiel to teach three workshops this summer

Take a class with the winner of the 2011 Oregon Book Award.


Susannah Carver: "Going to the Creative Renewal Weekend with David Biespiel was one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I now feel much more confident, inspired and, indeed, renewed. I have found my passion and joy once again."


Discover why Reading Local calls David Biespiel a "powerhouse" and a "literary force."


Learn more

Attic Institute teams up with Poets & Writers to offer discount subscription

Up to 69% off ~

that's like getting 8 issues free!

It's a match made in literary heaven. 

Portland's finest studio for writers and every writer in America's most trusted resource for literary news, contests deadlines, publishing leads, and event listings. To miss an issue of Poets & Writes is to miss out on your literary career.


How does it work? When you register for an Attic Institute class or schedule a private meeting, Poets & Writers will offer you a special discount subscription of only $12/year.


Current class schedule

Request a free interview to start the private meeting process

Attic Atheneum and Stonehenge Studios partner for two nights of great literature

More than 100 participants 

attend two balmy nights

of poetry, fiction, & memoir

Attic Atheneum Class of 2011 Readings

May 18 / May 19


Poetry: Ron Bloodworth, Jodie Marion, Michael Wynn, Elizabeth Flint-Somerville  

Fiction: Wayne Gregory, Michael Royce, Rajesh Varma, Adrienna Ogin

Non Fiction: Jessica Byers, Mary Mandeville, Lisa Loving, Stacy Bolt


Stonehenge Studios:

Meet the Atheneum Class of 2011

Learn more about the Atheneum


Attic Institute's David Biespiel speaks at Marylhurst University

David will talk about the human impulses to create art and read from recent and new poems -- both his and by other poets.

Wednesday, April 27, 7:30 pm
Baxter Hall, Marylhurst University
Free and open to the public.

Sponsored by the Thomas Binford Endowment Fund and Marylhurst University's Creative Writing program. For more information, contact the English Literature and Writing Department at 503.699.6274.

Attic Institute works to turn your little idea into a big movie

"Making a film is a big deal, treat it like one."  ~ Kelley Baker 


Attic Institute and Kelley Baker, the "angry filmmaker," team up to provide an outstanding opportunity for writers interested in writing for film.


Join Kelley at the Attic Institute 

Tuesdays, 7:30-9:30pm, May 17 - June 14


Register now for Kelley's screenwriting workshop

Learn more about Kelley's filmmaking tips

Check out Kelley's ideas about teaching and writing


Attic Institute helps Central Library with Writer's Resource Fair


Sunday, April 17, noon–3 p.m.

  • Central Library
  • 801 S.W. 10th Ave.
  • Celebrate the region's lively literary scene. Meet representatives of organizations offering support and opportunities for writers. Attend the Small Press Book Sale. Visit the Sterling Room for Writers and learn about this quiet space for writing and research. Enjoy refreshments.

Attic Institute launches next round of STEAMPUNK classes

Faculty Shanna Germain answers the question: 

What is steampunk fiction?


Q: First, what in the bloody aether is this Steampunk thing?

A: Steampunk is, in its most basic form, a genre that combines the Victorian era with science fiction. Basically, Victorian science fiction. Beyond that, there's a lot of speculation (and a fair amount of arguing) over what really constitues steampunk. If it sports goggles, robots, corsets, not-quite-accurate science, and flying airships, you can be pretty sure it's got its roots in steampunk.


Q: What's a good introduction to Steampunk?

A: You can try reading the classics -- The Time Machine, Frankenstien, 10,000 Leagues Under the Sea. These were Steampunk before the term steampunk even existed. More modern steampunk stuff includes The Difference Engine, Mainspring, Anno Dracula, or even the recent Sherlock Holmes movie.


Read the rest of Shanna's interview after the jump.

Register now for Shanna's May-June Steampunk Workshop 

Attic Institute raises the standard for writers

Attic faculty notes: Kathleen Halme on...


The students are splendid. They bring to workshop years of experience as surgeons, accountants, social workers, coffee roasters, hair stylists—and as writers. I've never seen a “sitting alone in my room...” poem at the Attic. The poets are open to experiment and are deeply involved in their work and words. After a course ends, they often keep meeting on their own to critique work and talk about books of poetry, a sign of their commitment.


...a book to read

I recommend Random House Word Menu in every writing course I teach. It's very helpful because it organizes language by subject matter. I use it daily. For the past several years I've been smitten by the poetry of Susan Stewart. Will someone please recommend a finer contemporary poet writing in English so I can break away? But read The Forest, Columbarium, and Red Rover—to me these collections are reminders that the sublime is possible and present in our art. They make me work harder. If you are intrigued by the cross-pollination of science and poetry, a book of essays I've been enjoying is Contemporary Poetry and Contemporary Science by Robert Crawford, ed., Oxford University Press. 2006.


...writing advice

Give up often, but do it during your daily scheduled writing. Ritualize what's important to you. Practice all the powers of poetry—the musical, the incantatory. Prose is for paragraphs.

Attic faculty notes: Dave Jarecki on...



"What I love most about teaching at the Attic Institute has to do with the dynamic that forms within each group of workshopping writers. Each writer brings his or her own bend and energy into the group which, when paired with the others, spins the group forward and helps me prepare unique lesson plans that encourage each writer and honor the group spirit. My greatest hope is that the workshop provides students with a new perspective on their writing, and renewed confidence that their work is valid and good."


...a book to read

"Two companion books: The Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell and The Writer's Journey by Christopher Vogler."


...writing advice

"To the best of your ability, create what you consider to be a sacred writing space. More than having "writing time," space is the most important assest to have, especially for writers who may struggle with focus. A dedicated space is a fantastic and crucial way to honor yourself and your practice."


Find time to write with Dave

Attic faculty notes: Rebecca Koffman on...



"Writer's workshops can be an immersion program in how to pay attention. Group reading and writing exercises inspire participants to be more curious, more aware and more engaged. In the best workshops everyone collaborates to find and develop what is most promising in a story. It's an exhilarating process."


...a book to read

"Janet Burroway: Writing Fiction."


...writing advice

"Take a walk. Be a stranger in your own neighborhood. Look out for nuance and texture."


Walk and write with Rebecca

Attic faculty notes: Dao Strom on...


"I hope not so much to "teach" you how to write, as to offer some deeper ways of perceiving, reading, and contemplating literature and the work/life of writing. I believe that learning how to see and understand the work, to heed our intuitions and explore our reactions, to both what we read and what we write, are the long-lasting skills that will help you to ultimately become a better writer. Writing is a relationship with your creative self. Everyone has a creative self worth accessing and heeding and expressing. I enjoy helping writers tap into their deeper creative instincts and approach the art of writing from a personal place."


...a book to read

"I've just recently opened up Open City, by Teju Cole. It starts out in much the meandering tone of a W.G. Sebald novel, but the terrain its narrator walks in present-day New York City, and many of the stories and interactions he encounters are those stories of immigrants. This novel is utterly refreshing - it gives me hope for a subtler current entering the stream American contemporary lit. At least I hope."


...writing advice

"Listen to your intuition, discover your own rhythms. Respect the ebbs and flows of the endeavor. Think of writing as nurture, not accomplishment or competition or product. Find your way to making it matter on the level of soul."


Take a writing workshop with Dao


Subscribe to Attic Institute RSS

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."