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. 


Chuck Palahniuk joins the Attic Institute as new Associate Fellow in Fiction

Associate Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

We are delighted to welcome Chuck Palahniuk as a new fellow at the Attic Institute. Chuck's novels include the bestselling Fight Club, which was made into a film by director David Fincher, Survivor, Invisible Monsters, Choke, Lullaby, Fugitives and Refugees, Diary, Stranger Than Fiction, Haunted, Rant, Stnuff, Pygmy, Tell-All, and Damned. Portions of Choke have appeared in Playboy, and his nonfiction work has been published by GearBlack BookThe Stranger, and the Los Angeles Times.

Learn more about Chuck's upcoming ten-week workshop: The Writing Wrong Workshop.

Praise for Zahir Janmohamed's Workshops at the Attic Institute

Do you want to know what it's like to study with award-winning writer Zahir Janmomhamed? 

Jennifer Van Alstyne, summer 2016 participant: "I just wanted to pass along feedback on the Personal Essays meetup I attended this week. The class was what I had been looking for and exceeded my expectations. Zahir is a generous and engaging instructor. The amount of information presented was great and gave me a lot to reflect on and provided motivation for my own projects. Please bring Zahir back for another class."

Dawnn McWatters, summer 2016 participant: "Over the past year and a half, I've taken several longer-term workshops at the Attic. Zahir's workshop provided a range and depth of perspective -- both personal and literary/political. In addition, our workshop's participants represented the most diverse group of fellow writers that I've sat with since I began taking classes in Portland. As a white, straight woman from an impoverished, rural background, now raising (and writing about my experiences of parenting) a biracial adopted child, I didn't realize how hungry I was to be challenged and validated, all at once. I got more than I'd intended - and a great deal of what I was needing - from his brief workshop."

Zahir's writing has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, Boston Review, Guernica, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, Racialicious, and many other publications. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, where he was the inaugural recipient of the Anne Cox Chambers fellowship for long-form journalism, as well as from the VONA workshop for writers of color. 

Learn more about Zahir

Register for Zahir's upcoming Personal Essay Writing Workshop

Adjunct Fellow Wayne Gregory featured in new anthology

Wayne Gregory has a short story in the upcoming anthology, Fashionably Late. The stories in this collection explore the impact of exposing long-held secrets and addresses the questions of what happens when adult men come out and what triumphs and struggles they experience. Filled with tales about divorce, conversion therapy, misadventures in dating, overcoming bigotry, and gender exploration, Fashionably Late paints a vivid picture of gay, bisexual, and transgender men experiencing their second coming-of age. The release of the book coincides with National Coming Out Day (October 11, 2016). Learn more:

Kate Carroll de Gutes joins the Attic Institute as Adjunct Fellow in Creative Writing

Recipient of 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Memoir and the Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction

We are pleased to welcome (back) Kate Carroll de Gutes to the Attic Institute. Kate Carroll de Gutes is a wry observer and writer who started her career as a journalist and then got excited by new journalism which became creative nonfiction and is now called essay (personal, lyric, and otherwise). Kate's book, Objects In Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear, won the 2016 Oregon Book Award for Creative Nonfiction and a 2016 Lambda Literary Award in Memoir. She was also one of the creators of the Attic Institute's Life Sketches program.

Learn more about Kate Carroll de Gutes
Register for one of her workshops this fall

ANNOUNCEMENT | Meet the 2016-2017 Atheneum Fellows

Congratulations! Joining the Atheneum this year are 12 new writers in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. 

An 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.

2016-2017 Atheneum Fellows

Fiction: Jennifer Nevers, Graham Paterson, Mericos Hector Rhodes, Andrea Rodriguez

Nonfiction: Kali Abel, Betsy Bertram, Caitlin Collins, Christa Kaainoa

Poetry: Delia Garigan, Anne Griffin, Marvin Lurie, Phil Meehan

Learn more about the Atheneum Master Writing Program

Acclaimed Writer Zahir Janmohamed joins the Attic Institute as Adjunct Fellow

Congratulations to acclaimed writer and journalist, Zahir Janmohamed, for joining the faculty as an Adjunct Fellow. Zahir Janmohamed's writing has appeared in The New York Times, Newsweek, Foreign Policy, Boston Review, Guernica, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Nation, Racialicious, and many other publications. He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, where he was the inaugural recipient of the Anne Cox Chambers fellowship for long-form journalism, as well as from the VONA workshop for writers of color. He previously worked in the United States Congress, where he was a senior foreign policy advisor, and at Amnesty International.

Learn more about Zahir Janmohamed
Register for one of his workshops this fall

The CNF Studio | Applications due August 31

Write what you know you want to know.

The Creative Nonfiction Studio is based on the idea that inspiration, accountability, and community are essential to every writer’s growth. The CNF Studio meets weekly for three-month (11-week) sessions, and its curriculum is designed to help you deepen your writing through a keener understanding of both literary craft and your own voice. The CNF Studio is open to applications from all writers, and members often return for multiple sessions. This creates the Studio’s special experience: a consistent, deep, and supportive study of your writing in the company of other writers.

Learn more and apply to the CNF Studio at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

2016 Atheneum Fellows Year-End Readings | June 7 | June 14 | Stonehenge Studios

11 fellows in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry read from their new writing

June 7: Emily Gillespie, Ryan Meranger, Joanna Rose, Wally Schaefer, Candice Schutter

June 14: Celia Carlson, Carolyn O’Doherty, Leslie Knight, Rich Perin, Jasmine Pittinger, Emily Rose Williams

The free readings begin at 7pm at Stonehenge Studios, 3508 SW Corbett Ave


Writing Fellows at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters include some of the best emerging and established writers in the Portland area. The Fellows offer Attic students a fresh literary experience geared to your writing and writing goals. Workshops offered by the following writers will be announced soon.

M. Allen Cunningham
Susan DeFreitas
Edward Derby
Patrick Dundon
Peter Field
Zahir Janmohamed
Sara Rivara
Kristin Walrod

David Biespiel joins Ursula K. Le Guin and Barry Lopez among writers to win an OBA in more than one genre

David Biespiel wins Oregon Book Award in General Nonfiction.

Congratulations to the Attic Institute's David Biespiel for winning the Oregon Book Award last night in general nonfiction for his book, A Long High Whistle: Selected Columns on Poetry. The book collects 11 years of David's writing on poetry in the book review of the Oregonian — making his the longest-running column on poetry in an American newspaper. The column ran from 2003-2014. This is David's second Oregon Book Award, having accomplished the rare feat of winning in two categories. He previously won the 2010 OBA in poetry for The Book of Men and Women. This new award puts him in the company of other writers who have won an OBA in more than one genre, including Ursula K. Le Guin, Barry Lopez, Tracy Daugherty, Floyd Skloot, Graham Salisbury, Eric Kimmel, among others. Congratulations to all the winners, finalists, publishers, and our friends at Literary Arts that sponsor the Oregon Book Awards each year. (Photo: Heather Brown)

Check out: A Long High Whistle

Read the Winning Entries in the Attic's Winter Writing Competition!

In February, we announced our Winter Writing Contest. The theme? "Unrepentant." We wanted pieces about shamelessness, moxie, brass, nerve. The writing community delivered! We received a proverbial mail basket full of strong submissions. From among them, our judges, David Biespiel (poetry) and Greg Robillard (prose), selected six winning entries - two short stories, two essays, and two poems - as well as three runners up. Without further ado, here they are! The winning pieces and their authors appear below.

Attic Institute president David Biespiel introduces Wendell Berry in New York for NBCC Lifetime Achievement Award

David Biespiel, president of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters, is seen here introducing Wendell Berry on March 17, 2016, at the New School in New York. The recipient of the National Book Critics Circle's Ivan Sandrof Lifetime Achievement Award for 2016, Wendell Berry, 81, is an influential poet, essayist, environmentalist, activist, critic and farmer. For more than 40 years he has farmed a hillside in Henry County, Kentucky, where he was born in 1934. He is the author of more than 50 books, including his most recent essay collection, “Our Only World.”

Speaking to the large audience of writers, editors, and publishers, Biespiel said:

It has been my privilege to chair the Ivan Sandrof committee this year. The Ivan Sandroff award is named for a founding member of the National Book Critics Circle. The award honors significant and sustained contributions to Amerian literary culture.

How I Got Published: a Chat with Jennifer Dorner

Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with poet Jennifer Dorner about submitting poems for publication. Dorner's poetry has appeared in The Timberline Review, VoiceCatcher, and is forthcoming in Verseweavers, and she has received literary awards from Willamette Writers and the Oregon Poetry Association. Dorner was a 2013-14 Atheneum Fellow at the Attic Institute. She coordinates the Attic’s popular monthly all-genre open mic, Fridays on the Boulevard, and co-founded the Vault Voices reading series.

How did you make the decision to start sending out your poems? How did you know you were ready? In 2011, I came back to writing after some time away from it. I attended classes and readings for two years until my teacher – I was taking a class then – said he thought I should send to a local online journal (VoiceCatcher). I'm so grateful John Morrison gave me that push. Later, I saw him at a reading downtown, and he gave me some advice: Take 20 of my best poems, divide them into groups of 5, and send them out.  That was in October; by January I was meeting with a friend, and spent a year sending work out.

Writing Prompt: Showing Off

This week’s prompt is “showing off.” Think wheelies and high dives; the splashiest engagement ring; the baddest car. What motivates this exhibitionist? Do they succeed in winning over their audience? Try speaking in their voice. 

Decide how long you want to write (10 minutes? an hour?). And go! 

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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."