Teachers & Staff

David Biespiel

David Biespiel

President of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

David Biespiel (pronounced buy-speel) founded the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters in 1999 as an independent writing and creativity studio in Portland's historic Hawthorne district. He is a poet, literary critic, memoirist, and contributing writer at American Poetry Review, PoetryPolitico, New RepublicThe Rumpus, Slate, and The New York Times, among other publications. He is the author of numerous books, most recently The Education of a Young PoetCharming Gardeners, A Long High Whistle, and The Book of Men and Women, which was chosen one of the Best Books of the Year by the Poetry Foundation. He has been a Lannan, National Endowment for the Arts, and Stegner fellow, a National Book Critics Circle Awards Finalist for the Nona Balakian Citation for Excellence in Reviewing, and the recipient of two Oregon Book Awards, in poetry and general nonfiction. He is Poet-in-Residence at Oregon State University. Forthcoming in 2019 is a new book of poetry, Republic Cafe.

Learn more about David Biespiel on Wikipedia

Visit David Biespiel's website

Photo Credit: Marion Ettlinger

David Ciminello

David Ciminello

Adjunct Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

David Ciminello's fiction has appeared in the Lambda Literary Award winning anthology Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City, The Untold GazeNailed MagazineLuminaThe Frozen Moment: Contemporary Writers on the Choices That Change Our Lives, the online anthology Underwater New York and on Broadcastr. His poetry has appeared in Poetry Northwest. He is a 2011 Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction and a proud recipient of a 2013 annual Table 4 Writers Foundation grant. An Academy Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting finalist, his original screenplay Bruno appears on DVD as The Dress Code. As a screenwriter he has developed projects for HBO, 20th Century Fox, and Aaron Spelling Productions. David holds a BFA Degree in Acting from The Catholic University of America and an MFA in Fiction from Sarah Lawrence College.

Kelley Baker

Adjunct Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

Kelley Baker has written and directed three full-length features (Birddog, The Gas Café, & Kicking Bird), eight short films and other documentaries. His films have aired on PBS, Canadian and Australian television, and have been shown at Film Festivals including London, Sydney, Sundance, and Edinburgh. A graduate of USC’s film school, he is the author of The Angry Filmmaker Survival Guide: Part One & Part Two. He was also the sound designer on six of Gus Van Sant’s features including Good Will Hunting and My Own Private Idaho.

Road Dog is Kelley’s newest book and is available on Amazon and at his website, www.angryfilmmaker.com. 

“As Eat, Pray, Love is to love and spirituality, Road Dog is to the raucous, independent, and contented life.” - William M. Akers, author, Your Screenplay Sucks!, Mrs. Ravenbach's Way

Brian Benson

Associate Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

Brian Benson is the author of the memoir Going Somewhere, a Powell's New Favorite and Multnomah County Library Selection, and the co-producer of The River Signal, a serialized podcast written and recorded aboard a sternwheel paddleboat during a trip down the Mississippi River. A former Attic student and alum of the 2012 Atheneum, Brian is now at work on his second book. 


Heather Brown

Teaching Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

Heather Brown is one of Portland's leading literary administrators, activists, and writers, where she builds publicity campaigns and produces events for many authors, presses, and nonprofit literary organizations in Portland and across the country. 

Kate Carroll de Gutes

Adjunct Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

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. Kate writes on a wide range of topics, but her obsession is to focus on sexuality and gender presentation, and living an authentic life. Learn more at katecarrolldegutes.com.


Susan DeFreitas

Writing Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

Susan DeFreitas’s work has appeared in The Utne Reader, The Nervous Breakdown, Story Magazine, Southwestern American Literature, and Weber—The Contemporary West, along with more than twenty other magazines, journals, and anthologies. She is the author of the novel, Hot Season, and the chapbook Pyrophitic, as well as a regular contributor at Litreactor.com. She holds an MFA from Pacific University and lives in Portland, Oregon, where she serves as a collaborative editor with Indigo Editing & Publications.

Edward Derby

Writing Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

Edward Derby's writing has appeared in Cloudbank, Field, Mud Season Review, Prairie Schooner, and others. He holds an MA in creative writing from The University of Florida. His short film "Rowers Don't Wear Life jackets" was an official selection of the Oregon Independent Film Festival. He's taught creative writing at The University of Florida, Oberlin College, and the Paris American Academy Summer Writer's Workshop.

Matthew Dickman

Associate Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

Matthew Dickman is the author of All-American Poem (American Poetry Review/ Copper Canyon Press, 2008), Mayakovsky’s Revolver (WW Norton & Co, 2012), Wish You Were Here (Spork Press, 2013) and has co-written along with his brother 50 American Plays (Copper Canyon Press, 2012) The recipient of The Honickman First Book Prize, The May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Kate Tufts Award from Claremont College, the 2009 Oregon Book Award, his poems have appeared in the London Review of Books, McSweeny’s, Esquire, Poetry London, The New York Times Style Magazine, The Believer and The New Yorker among many others. He is lives and works in Portland, Oregon where he is the poetry editor for Tin House Magazine.

Merridawn Duckler

Senior Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

A prose writer, playwright, poet, and artist, Merridawn Duckler is a senior fellow at the Attic Institute, a member of the Atheneum faculty, and a leader of the Individual Consult Group. Her recent work appears in: TAB: Journal of Poetry and Poetics, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Blast Furnace, Zone 3, The Psychoanalytic Review, The Offing, The Meadow, Rivet, Really SystemPoetica and Defenestration. She was a finalist for the 2016 Sozoplo Fiction Fellowship. Her work has been performed at Red Cat at Disney Hall, as well as in other venues in Arizona, California, New York, Oregon, Washington and Valdez Alaska. Her verse play appeared in the Emerging Female Playwright Festival Manhattan Shakespeare Project. She is a member of the Blackfish Gallery collective. Fellowships and awards include Best Creative Non-Fiction Anthology and Pushcart nomination, winner Writers@Work, Yaddo, Squaw Valley, NEA, SLS in St. Petersburg, Russia, Southampton Poetry Conference with Billy Collins, and others. She is an editor at Narrative and the international philosophy journal Evental Aesthetics