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

Atheneum Class of 2013 Readings

Atheneum Fellows at Stonehenge Studios

June 6 and June 13, 6:30pm

Hear the graduating class of 2013 of Atheneum Fellows read new fiction, memoir and poetry.


June 6: Shana Kusin, Melea Seward, David Melville, Amy Seaholt, JoAnna Prahl

June 13: Michael Sterling Farris, Nina Lary, Shelley Stearns, David Buchta, Katja Dilmann, Sara Fischer

Stonehenge Studios: 3508 SW Corbett Ave (503) 224 - 3640

Reminder: Attic Atheneum class of 2014 applications due May 31.

Wayne Gregory joins the Attic Institute as an Adjunct Fellow


Former Atheneum Fellow and Hawthorne Fellow to teach 'Writing Queer' this summer

Wayne Gregory is one of the most honored writers to study at the Attic Institute. A veteran of workshops with senior fellow Merridawn Duckler and associate fellow Ariel Gore, he was a 2010-2011 Atheneum Fellow and also a 2011-2012 Hawthorne Fellow. He has taught at Willamette University and Portland State University. Wayne is a linguist, a proud grandfather, and a card-carrying member of the Portland Gay Men's Chorus. He has recently completed a memoir about growing up gay in the conservative Christian South, which has been accepted by Rebel Satori Press.

Meet Wayne Gregory

Register for Writing Writing Queer workshop


Teach at the Attic Institute


Become a Summer Teaching Fellow

We're hiring! If you possess significant literary experience and want to teach at the Attic Institute, apply to become a Summer Teaching Fellow.

Summer Teaching Fellows offer five (5) week workshops in fiction, memoir, creative nonfiction, or poetry, as well as in general literary subjects such as publishing or literature.

Learn more

Garden designer Sean Hogan, woodworking designer Gary Rogowski, and poet David Biespiel talk about creativity

The Art of Design: Gardening, Woodworking, and Writing Poetry

January 24, 6-7:30pm at the Northwest Woodworking Studio (1002 SE 8th)

Engage your own creative side. Participate in an intimate panel discussion with three notable Portlanders.

Sean Hogan, owner of Cistus Nursery on Sauvies Island, Portland, and a world renown garden designer, lecturer, and author.

Gary Rogowski, Director of The Northwest Woodworking Studio, A School for Woodworkers. Gary is a well known woodworking designer, author, and lecturer.

David Biespiel, President of the Attic Institute, author of the Oregon Book Award winning collection of poems, The Book of Men and Women, and the inspiring book on creativity, Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces.

Join these three Portlanders as they each discuss their process, the triumphs and pitfalls, and the value of failure in the creative process. It is sure to be a lively evening of discussion. Come be inspired.

For more information: nws@spiritone.com

Whitney Otto, Jon Raymond, and Rev. Dr. Marilyn Sewell join the Attic Institute as Adjunct Fellows

The Attic Institute is pleased to announce that New York Times Bestselling novelist Whitney Otto, Oregon Book Award winning novelist and Sundance Film Festival screenwriter Jon Raymond, and First Unitarian Church of Portland Minister Emerita Reverend Dr. Marilyn Sewell have been appointed adjunct fellows beginning January 2013.

"These are three amazing writers, speakers, and teachers here in Portland, and we're delighted to have them join our roster of exceptional literary teachers and to work with Portland's emerging writer in fiction, film, and spiritual writing," notes David Biespiel, president of the Attic Institute. "Any writer who wants to advance and learn would do well to take course or more with these three outstanding writers."

Otto, Raymond, and Sewell join a dynamic, national faculty of teaching fellows at the Attic Institute that includes David Biespiel, Cheryl Strayed, Karen Karbo, Paulann Petersen, Jennifer Lauck, Matthew Dickman, Wendy Willis, Merridawn Duckler, Elizabeth Rusch, Vanessa Veselka, Peter Zuckerman, and others, including critics Jeff Baker, Barry Johnson, and Shawn Levy.

Gifts for writers and visual artists




Give a free writing workshop or visual art assemblage    

Gift certificates make a great expression of support.

Whether you're looking to give Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanza gifts, consider

giving the writer or artist in life - or yourself, for that matter - the gift of creative living.

Gift certificates for writing workshops and visual arts assemblages are easy to set up.

And we love helping you do it.

Contact us

Attic Institute Adjunct Fellow Emily Harris to begin reporting from Jerusalem for National Public Radio

Congratulations to Emily Harris, adjunct fellow, who will reporting from Jersusalem for NPR beginning March 2013. Emily joined the Attic in late 2011 and remain on the faculty (on leave) for the next three years when she plans to return to Portland.

Learn how to work one-on-one with Emily (before March)

Learn more about Emily Harris


Special opportunity for Attic Institute writers: Create a blog and write a query letter

These days it's all about platform for new and up and coming writers.  Writing, blogging and social media can be overwhelming.  How do you juggle it all? Join Kelly Wallace for a three-hour class for writers on December 15, 2012 that will teach you the first step in the platform process: how to create a blog. Want to share the message of your small business? Campaign? Life story?

See you at Wordstock, October 13-14


Historic first reading together of Oregon poet laureate and Attic Institute Associate Fellow Paulann Petersen and Washington poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken on the Attic Institute poetry stage.

Writers compete in the Attic Institute / Wordstock OPEN WRITE improv writing competition.

Attic Institute Adjunct Fellow Wendy Willis and John Daniel read on the Attic Institute poetry stage.

Writers gather at the Attic Institute booth.

Our booth!


Tools for Writers: "How To Turn Your Writing Around" by James Bernard Frost

On Writing

James Bernard Frost, Adjunct Fellow at the Attic Institute

Learn more about James Bernard Frost

Upcoming workshop with James Bernard Frost

“I sit at my table and wage war on myself. It seems like it’s all, it’s all for nothing.”

These are the lyrics from a song by R.E.M. called World Leader Pretend that inspired my first novel. It’s also how I feel on those days when the writing simply isn’t going well.

Special free event tonight

3rd Annual Atheneum Reading 
Merridawn Duckler. Lee Montgomery. G. Xavier Robillard.
Karen Karbo. Wendy WillisDavid Biespiel.  

David Biespiel

Tonight, September 13, 7pm, free
Profile Theater, 3430 SE Belmont

AFTER-PARTY: Cash bar at the Blue Monk. 3341 SE Belmont.
Plus: Meet the class of 2013 Atheneum Fellows.

Willamette Week hails tonight's reading to be "like getting a free class in literary genius."

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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."