$20,000 for a 100-Word Story: Museum of Words Flash Fiction Contest

The Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation’s fifth international flash fiction contest is now accepting entries. Administered by the Museo de las Palabras (Museum of Words) in Madrid, the competition is for very short fiction pieces of up to a maximum of 100 words. The winner will receive a prize of US$20,000, with three runners-up each receiving $1000.

2017-2018 Atheneum Fellows Announced

Congratulations to the class of 2018

Our annual certificate program, the Attic Atheneum melds independent study under close faculty supervision, student receptions, public readings, and other special Atheneum events created around good food and great conversation, dialogue, and literary community.


POETRY: Peggy Capps, Michelle Williams, Louise Wynn

FICTION: Doug Chase, Althea Gregory, Dennis Steinman, Don Westlight

NONFICTION: Heidi Beierle, Kathleen Goldberg, Heather Rocha, Nadia Webb

Storytelling in folk and country music

I was talking with a friend recently who was explaining his relatively newfoundland love for country music. Among his reasons were the songs simply tell stories. I think it's worth taking a look at the lyrics of country musicians in relation to a narrative; country songs, or songs whose lyrics are derivative of country and folk origin, transcend the format of prose or poetry while still giving us an account delivered with sentiment. 


Reading to keep existential anxiety at bay in the summertime

As of two days ago it is officially summer. 

I have mixed feelings about the summertime. I love swimming, hot weather, drinking iced coffee, warm nights, walking for hours without any destination, going to sleep red and waking up a shade darker. At the same time, as a student who takes classes nine months out of the year, June through August presents a kind of chasm in which routine is discarded and needed to be refound. I inevitably find myself with time on my hands to ponder too much. Recently I've been wrestling with the idea of existential dread and how to utilise the thoughts which arise from it to initiate helpful, discrusive thinking. I don't really think there's one solution, but I find comfort in texts which offer empathetic narratives. 

David Biespiel to publish memoir in October 2017

"In his beguiling voice . . . Biespiel’s supple memoir of becoming a poet will surely inspire other writers." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A beautifully rendered memoir about creative beginnings in the vein of Umberto Eco’s classic Confessions of a Young Novelist.

The Education of a Young Poet (Counterpoint Press) is Attic Institute of Arts and Letters' president David Biespiel’s moving account of his awakening to writing and the language that can shape a life. David writes for every creative person who longs to shape the actions of their world into art and literature. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft coupled with a classic coming of age tale that does for Boston in the 1980s what Hemingway's A Moveable Feast did for Paris in the 1920s.


...and they're free! Podcasts for Writers

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went on a long backpack. It was really very long. We crossed state lines; we passed from one season into the next. For weeks, we talked - about the scenery, the route, memories we had just remembered, the food we were missing. Eventually, we were talked out. We just walked, enjoying the quiet, the rustling, the birds. As the miles stretched into the hundreds, I discovered podcasts.

Writing Prompt: Gotcha!

Our free write is based on this picture: 

Write a poem, passage, or story about what you see happening here. Think of the physical: Is it hot? Noisy or not? How does it smell? Think about the softness of the monkeys' fur, the rebuke of the stick. 

Be as silly, literal and slapstick as you like.

Try taking sides: Start your piece with either "He had it coming" or "It was unfair."

Just 15 minutes! Ready, go... 




Independent Bookstore Commemorates Fictitious "Bowling Green Massacre"

One of the biggest embarrassments of the early Donald Trump administration occurred when Trump advisor and spokesperson Kellyanne Conway made reference to the "Bowling Green massacre," a terrorist attack that did not actually occur. Many have mocked Conway over the made-up attack, but no one’s done it better than the Harvard Bookstore.

This Writing Residency Comes with Cinnabons

If you want a writing residency with a different flavor, then forego the pastoral setting and head to the Mall of America. MOA is looking for a writer to do a five-day residency to celebrate its 25th anniversary. According to their website, "the winner will have the chance to spend five days deeply immersed in the Mall atmosphere while writing on-the-fly impressions in their own words."

"The contest winner will stay in an attached hotel for four nights, receive a $400 gift card to buy food and drinks and collect a generous honorarium for the sweat and tears they’ll put into their prose." And there's this tantalizing hook: "Where will the winner’s lovingly crafted story end up? Just wait and see!"

Winners Announced for the Attic Institute's "Snowpocalypse" Writing Contest

In honor of our recent crazy weather, we set a theme of "Snowpocalypse," and invited a submissions related to snow, cold, or winter. Our judge was David Ciminello, award-winning author, poet and screenwriter, and an adjunct fellow at The Attic Institute (...also an actor, but that's another story!). From the stack of entries, David selected a first and second place award winners. And they are...


First Place: "A Prayer for Winter" by Alene Bikle

Second Place: "The Bright White Light, The Clean Chill Air" by Stevan Allred

Congratulations to Alene and Stevan! Their pieces appear below. Enjoy reading them, and thanks also, to all who submitted to the contest. 


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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."