How We're Responding In This Time Of Need | A Letter from Founder David Biespiel

June 7 2020

Everyday, for some twenty years now, I've always had a good feeling walking up the narrow stairwell to the Attic Institute's offices and libraries, where our writing workshops take place. It's always exciting to enter this haven for writers, a place of so many literary struggles and triumphs. And, it's always inspiring to be greeted by the special message for writers from Walt Whitman that is stenciled on the wall at the top of the stairs -- 

Not I, nor anyone else can travel that road for you.  

You must travel it by yourself.  

It is not far. It is within reach.  

Perhaps you have been on it since you were born, and did not know. 

I'm excited about our upcoming Fall 2020 and Winter 2021 seasons of workshops -- all online, of course. Already the first of dozens of new workshops for the fall are open for registration, as well as summer workshops. Soon, over the next few weeks, we'll be adding new fall workshops from new faculty from around the country -- a first for the Attic. 

Since we migrated all our Portland workshops to Zoom back in March, already over 150 writers, from as far as Alaska to Pennsylvania, have registered and participated.

At the same time, it's with a heavy heart that I am giving you the news today that on July 1, we will be moving out of our location because of the public health crisis. We're going to miss our wonderful, funky, brick building on Hawthorne Boulevard so much, a place we proudly think of as the birthplace of Portland's literary renaissance. 

Sadly, social-distancing and intimate in-person writing workshops don't go together. 

And, as long as social-distancing is required, we don't want to put anyone's health at risk by attempting to host workshops inside our facility. 

After the Covid crisis is behind us, we will resume in-person workshops at a new location (TBD) that is fully accessible to all our students and faculty. 

All our Zoom online workshops will go on as planned throughout the fall, as well as Poets Studio, CNF Studio, Atheneum, and other programs. I'm grateful to and confident in the Attic faculty and staff for working so hard to keep your writing moving forward.

So, here, where I would usually say, "Come on up," I'll simply say -- with Zoom as our classroom, and with faculty already proving adept and inspired with new techniques to teach creative writing via Zoom -- "Come on in."

In the troubled state of our nation right now, we all need the reprieve and pleasure, provocation and solace, that writing and the art of literature provide. 

One more special thing: This Friday, June 12, and Saturday, June 13, we'll be holding a flash sale of all our thousands of new and used books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as the bookcases. All books will be $2 or less. Save the date. More details to come this week.

Finally, it has been a pleasure to create this iteration of the Attic to serve you, and I'm looking forward to settling into the next "attic" just as soon as we can. 

We won't stop running workshops. We're going to be right there with you. 

But, for now, whether you are new to writing or an old hand, I do have one last thing to ask of you. I'm asking you to believe in yourselves and your writing and to believe in the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters as this city's once -- and future -- haven for writers. 

I'm asking you to hold fast to the faith and to travel this road with us. As Walt Whitman says, "It is not far. It is within reach."

I know we'll be reuniting in person with all of you for in-person workshops just as soon as we can. 

We'll see you then.


David Biespiel

Attic Institute of Arts and Letters