Attic Institute to occupy Wordstock, October 13-14


We are delighted to be EVERYWHERE at Wordstock October 13-14, including creating the 'Open Write' writing competition, hosting the poetry stage, and our faculty fellows giving talks, readings, sitting on panels, and more. 

OPEN WRITE: Wordstock and the Attic Institute team up for an action-packed, fast-paced, improv writing competition. Hosted live from Wordstock's weekend Book Fair at the Oregon Convention Center, Open Write gives brave writers the chance to showcase what they can do with only a writing prompt, a computer, and nine minutes. Their prose is posted to the web, the digital audience and the judges each select a champion. Winners announced daily at 5:30pm from the Open Write podium next to the Drinkery.


Saturday, October 13

11am: John Brehm & Stephanie Lenox

12pm: A Face to Meet the Faces: Anthology

1pm: Crystal Williams & David Axelrod

2pm: Floyd Skloot & Greg Chaimov

3pm: Bruce Beasley & Suzanne Paola

4pm: Andrew Feld & Jodie Marion

5pm: Ed Skoog & Scot Siegel


Sunday, October 14

11am: Kathleen Flenniken & Paulann Petersen

12pm: Poetry Northwest

1pm: Andrea Hollander Budy & Lisa M. Steinman

2pm: Jim Shugrue & John Morrison

3pm: Poets from the Athenuem at the Attic Institute

4pm: Wendy Willis & John Daniel


Attic Institute faculty fellows read at the following times: 

Peter Zuckerman, 11am, Saturday, October 13

James Bernard Frost, 1pm, Saturday, October 13

Yuvi Zalkow, 5pm, Saturday, October 13

Paulann Petersen, Sunday 11am, October 14

Karen Karbo, Sunday 12pm, October 14

Wendy Willis, Sunday 4pm, October 14


Attic Institute faculty fellows sit on panels or giving talks at the following times:

James Bernard Frost, panelist, "Putting Words in the Mouth of God," 11am, Oct 13

Peter Zuckerman, talk, "Triage: A Better Way to Revise," 1:30pm, October 13

Karen Karbo, panelist, "The Allure of the Lives of Others," October 13

Yuvi Zalkow, panelist, "What Sex Does To a Story," 4pm, October 13

Yuvi Zalkow, talk, "Obsession X Voice," 12pm, October 14

Lee Montgomery, panelist, "The Art of the Ending," 3pm, October 14

James Bernard Frost, talk, "The Anti-Hero's Journey," 3pm, October 14

Attic Institute appoints Margaret Eccles Yost as Senior Fellow and Director of Visual Arts

New visual arts assemblages to begin January 2013.

The Attic Institute is delighted to announce the appointment of artist and teacher Margaret Eccles Yost as a senior fellow and director of our new visual arts program which will offer workshops, or "assemblages," to beginning, emerging, and established visual artists beginning January 2013.

Emerging in the late 1980s as a visual artist in Portland, Margaret's work can be found in public and private art collections both in the United States and abroad, and has been seen in numerous exhibitions worldwide in galleries, on-site installations, museums, and film festivals. Interviews and reviews of her work have been featured in Art in America, The New York Times, The Oregonian, The New Jersey Star Ledger, Willamette Week, and other national publications.

Meet Margaret Eccles Yost.

On September 10, get a handle on making your characters come alive

Adjunct Fellow Martha Gies invites you to write amazing stuff in her popular and inspirational creative writing workshop.

In this workshop, we will look at ways of showing and telling that make character come alive on the page. "...every feeling waits upon its gesture," said Eudora Welty, who learned her craft traveling around Mississippi during the Depression and photographing people for the WPA. In addition to writing short sketches in class, we will read assigned fiction by Dagoberto Gilb, Susan Minot, John Sayles and Miss Welty, in order to study how they how they deliver characters that we may hate or love, but always hear and see.


Save your spot by registering now

Memoir writers -- beginning September 17 -- tell the stories of your life

Associate Fellow and New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Lauck helps you hone the art and craft of your autobiographical tales.

Says Jennifer: "This is the first of what I hope will be an ongoing critique circle or "good in the morning" writers. Each week, three to four writers will have the opportunity to read aloud, hear their own voice and get facilitated feedback from their peers and myself. If you are in this class, you have a story to tell and are on your way. This is not a beginning level memoir group. This class is for those who know what they want to write, or have a pretty good idea and are ready to improve their writing in a significant way. All elements of craft will be discussed in this class but most of all, this is your community of support."

Also with Jennifer:

"So Many Essay Forms, So Little Time" begins on Sept. 17.

"How Did They Do That" begins on Sept. 18.

Save your spot by registering now

Write a novel or a memoir -- two unique opportunities -- to work with Jennifer Lauck

Associate Fellow Jennifer Lauck works with you on your novel while she writes hers -- and she leads you through the writing of your memoir too.

"A NOVEL IDEA" STARTS SEPT. 18: Jennifer Lauck's own novel, Let it Be, is being created in this workshop series, too, and she will keep this special novel-writing group going at least 18 months. We are a group eager for new fiction writers who are willing to work hard to get the book done. Are you? . 

"CRAFT OF MEMOIR" STARTS SEPT. 9: This is an immersion class where every aspect of your craft is examined and discussed. Memoir, fiction, essay.  All forms are welcome and workshopped. You can expect to have your writing reviewed at least three, perhaps four times in the term.

Save your spot by registering now


Write poems that tap into the depths of your creative life -- beginning September 18

Adjunct Fellow John Morrison walks you through the elements of poetry.

Whether you're a poetry-writing veteran, returning to writing poems after a break, or just starting out, there's a lot here for you and for your poems as we set our poetry on firm ground through exercises, discussion, and a supportive workshop dedicated to exploration, fun and camaraderie.

Save your spot by registering now

Beginning September 19: Fix your writing problems with ease

Associate Fellow Liz Prato is the 'manuscript medic' ready to diagnose and help you treat your writing -- a great kick-starter for any writer.

Students can submit essays, short stories, or excerpts from a novel or memoir to be examined. You will learn how to identify common failings of early drafts and – most importantly – how to fix them! For all prose writers.


Save your spot by registering now


Learn how to write a book proposal that gets a book contract -- starting September 20

Associate Fellow Elizabeth Rusch shares with you her secrets for publishing success -- step by step.

An excellent proposal helps you organize your ideas, understand the competition, and can help you land a publishing contract even before you write the book. This seven-week class will take you step-by-step through the major parts of the nonfiction book proposal: the query letter, overview, competitive analysis, marketing and promotion, author background, outline and sample chapter.

Save your spot by registering now

Review the arts (dance, painting, theater, film) under the tutelage of the best -- sign up by September 20

Adjunct Fellow and former Oregonian art critic Barry Johnson is looking for a few good reviewrs for Arts Watch.

The workshop will consider the basics of preparation and research, structure and writing and attempt to create a "platform" for writing about the arts in an engaging and useful way. Says Barry: "We'll read; we'll write; we'll edit. And we'll think and talk a lot about art."

Save your spot by registering now

Study fiction and nonfiction with one of Portland's master writers starting September 20

Associate Fellow Karen Karbo runs you through her loving, supportive, and kick a** boot camp for writers.

If you've got a novel, memoir, collection of essays or stories you're going to write "someday," (or one halfway done that refuses to catch fire) someday has arrived. This workshop will offer advice, inspiration, motivation and techniques to get you started, keep you going, help you get out of your own way, and make writing a daily part of your life.


Save your spot by registering now

Now is the time to write your Young Adult novel -- starting September 20

Adjunct Fellow Kerry Cohen, author of six books, guides you with skill and humor.

This class will be part workshop, part discussion of the unique craft that makes up young adult novels. We will examine what elements make up a novel meant for young adults: characterization, emotional arcs, plotting, form, and crafting scenes.


Save your spot by registering now


"Ye Olde Poetry Workshop" re-launches on September 22

Adjunct Fellow Matthew Dickman reads and critiques your newest poems.

Like in a wedding, the students in this class will bring something old, something new, and something borrowed. We will bring in a poem that feels stuck, a new poem, and we will be generating writing in class, borrowing from each other, and sharing poems of favorite poets.


Save your spot by registering now


Beginning October 2, focus on writing great plots and a great novel.

Senior Fellow Merridawn Duckler steers fiction writers and novelists forward.

"PLOT 101" STARTS OCT 2: Learn how to develop unique characters, intense plots, and dynamic dialogue. A workshop on the craft of story-telling and bringing your stories into a fictional framework.
"NOVEL-IN-PROGRESS WORKSHOP" STARTS OCT 2: The dedication to writing a novel can be a lonely experience. This is a great 8-week experience to kick-start a novel, even if if you only have one chapter or just an idea.

Adjunct Fellow Vanessa Veselka wins 2012 PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award in Fiction

Congratulations, Vanessa!

Award goes for her first novel, Zazen, published last year.

"An ambitious encapsulation of our modern times, Zazen tackles counter-culture hipsters, geology, Buddhism, consumerism, terrorism, veganism, family drama, and, above all, love." ~ PEN/Robert W. Bingham Award in Fiction citation

Meet Vanessa Veselka. Keep an eye out for her next workshops at the Attic Institute.

Internationally renowned literary journal becomes the Attic Institute's newest 'magazine-in-residence'

The Portland offices for Rattapallax to be hosted and operated independently at the Attic Institute.

From 2005-2010, Poetry Northwest was the Attic Institute's first 'magazine-in-residence.' Beginning September 1, 2012, Portland-based editor Flavia Rocha will be editing Rattapallax as the Attic Institute's newest 'magazine-in-residence.' Operating independently, Rattapallax is an online journal focusing on litearture, poetry, music, and film.

Learn more about Rattapallax.

Hamline University’s Low-Residency MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults teams up with the Attic Institute for a special opportunity for writers in Portland



The Attic Institute is pleased to host Hamline University’s Low-Residency MFA in Writing for Children & Young Adults’ special opportunity for you to attend a workshop session and have lunch with faculty and the director of the acclaimed program. You’ll get a sneak preview of life inside an accredited MFA program.

Saturday, September 8, 9:30 a.m.-1:00 p.m., at the Attic Institute. Cost: $25.

Award-winning children’s and young adult authors Phyllis Root and Ron Koertge, both professors in Hamline’s MFAC program (based in Saint Paul, Minnesota), will present workshops so you can experience learning just as you would in the MFAC program. Workshops include: 

9:30-10:30: The Heart of Your Story. Using the tools of storyboarding and dummying up, Phyllis Root will show you how to locate the essential heart of your picture book and, once found, how to make that heart beat more strongly. (This is also useful when thinking about novels.)

10:45-11:45: Structuring Your Novel. Ron Koertge will discuss the important differences between a novel and a novel-in-verse, introducing you to the key elements of fiction necessary to structuring a novel: Point of view, character, and plot.

After the second workshop, participants are invited to have lunch with the faculty and the director of The Creative Writing Programs at Hamline. Here you will hear more information about what the MFAC program at Hamline offers.

You can attend both workshops or just one. If you choose to do only The Heart of Your Story, you can meet briefly afterward with the director of The Creative Writing Programs.

You should arrive ten or fifteen minutes early so the first workshop can begin on time.  

To register: Click this link to attend this special session.

Kelly Wallace (Hawthorne Fellow, '12) offers one-day workshop on honing and crafting a query letter for literary agents.


Get an agent and sell your idea

A three hour crash course for writers to focus on honing and crafting a query letter for literary agents. When we’re done, you’ll have a query letter to send, ideas where to send it, a network of people to support you and next steps for how to continue the good work.

When: Saturday, September 15 from 9am-noon with a follow-up cocktail party a month later to share our finished query letter and/or success stories. 

Registration: $59.

Price of admission to cocktail party: Your finished query letter. Location of cocktail party TBA. 

This class is led by Kelly Wallace, currently a Hawthorne Fellow at The Attic Institute. She owns and operates the West Coast chapter of Writers Boot Camp and is a Member of the Pinewood Table writer’s group led by Stevan Allred and Joanna Rose. 

To register for the class please visit:

Pre-order Associate Fellow Wendy Willis' book of poems and get a signed edition.

Blood Sisters of the Republic to be published in the fall.

"Here's a full-out 21st century poet -- wrangler with history, domestic confidante, disrupter of narratives, down-home story teller, linguistic fire breather. "    — Greg Glazner, author of Opening the World

"Wendy Willis is a poet of serious heart. Blood Sisters of the Republic is as much about its local life as it is about national conscience. Plentitude and complexity are the hallmarks of its voice. And love is its signature.”
  — Stanley Plumly, author of Old Heart

Pre-order Blood Sisters of the Republic  |  Meet Wendy Willis

Jack Daniel’s gives former Attic Institute writer a shot and chaser of publicity.

Have a look at the cover Jack Daniels wants changed -- and the polite letter the distiller sent to Patrick Wesnick to cease and desist.

Read the New York Times article about Patrick Wensick's novel, Broken Piano for President, and the run in with Jack Daniels.

Meet Patrick Wesnick, a former Attic Institute student in Merridawn Duckler's fiction workshops.


Discover fiction, memoir, and nonfiction workshops at the Attic Institute


Human beings are born to tell stories.
Tell us yours.
Flash Fiction  |  Writing Our Queer History Map Your Way to a Published Book  |  Essentials
Fiction |  Memoir  |  Nonfiction  |  Personal Essays  |  Book Proposals  |  Young Adult  |  And More


Reminder: Classes sometimes fill up fast. It's always best to register early.

Film critic and New York Times best-selling writer Shawn Levy joins the Attic Institute as an Adjunct Fellow in the Fall of 2012

Shawn Levy on reading and writing film.

For enthusiasts, film buffs, and writers.

We're delighted to announce that Oregonian film critic Shawn Levy will join the Attic Institute to teach "Reading Film / Writing Film" during Fall session 2. Look for his course information to be posted in August -- and register then.

Meet Shawn Levy


Associate Fellow Greg Robillard has been chosen to lead the Hawthorne Fellows in 2012-2013

G. Xavier Robillard, author of Captain Freedom: A Super Hero's Quest Truth, Justice and the Celebrity He So Richly Deserves, and contributor to "Livewire" will begin working with new fellows in October.

Deadline to apply for October-February Hawthorne Fellows: September 25, 2012.

Learn more about the Hawthorne Fellows

Associate Fellow Wendy Willis's major essay on place has been reprinted in the July/August issue of the Utne Reader.

Where Are You From?

Reconnecting to the places we live by Wendy Willis, from Oregon Humanities 

"Recently, driving home from a soccer game in the pouring rain, I looked into the rearview mirror and asked my two young and very wet daughters, “If someone from another country asked you where you were from, what would you say?”

Without a heartbeat’s hesitation, they responded in unison, “Portland, Oregon.” I drew a sharp breath. For them, it’s not even a question to ponder. When I am asked, I always say, “I live in Portland, but I’m from Springfield, Oregon—from East Lane County.” When my husband is asked, he always answers, “Harris County, Texas,” though he was born in Tulsa, has lived in a dozen states, and has bounced around the same two zip codes in Southeast Portland for more than fifteen years."

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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."