Teachers & Staff

David Biespiel

David Biespiel

Founder of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

Texan, author of ten books of poetry, criticism, and memoir, editor of two anthologies, professor for nearly forty years, including at Stanford, Maryland, Wake Forest, and George Washington universities, the last twenty-some at Oregon State University as Poet-in-Residence, editor of Poetry Northwest from 2005-2010, contributor to Air/Light, American Poetry Review, Bookforum, Denver Quarterly, Fence, Literary Imagination, Los Angeles Review of Books, New England Review, New Republic, New York Times, The New Yorker, Parnassus, Partisan, Poetry, Poery International, Politico, The Rumpus, Sewanee Review, Slate, the Washington Post, and many other literary magazines, recipient of Lannan, National Endowment for the Arts, and Stegner fellowships, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, two Oregon Book Awards (in poetry and nonfiction), twice a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Balakian Award.

​David Biespiel's first book, Shattering Air, was published in 1996 by BOA Editions, with an introduction by Stanley Plumly. The University of Washington Press published his next major volumes of poetry, edited by Linda Bierds: Wild Civility (2003), The Book of Men and Women (2009), Charming Gardeners (2013), and Republic Café (2019).

His nonfiction includes A Place of Exodus: Home, Memory, and Texas (Kelson Books, 2020, memoir), The Education of a Young Poet (Counterpoint, 2017, memoir), which was selected a Best Books for Writers by Poets & Writers, A Long High Whistle: Selected Columns on Poetry (Antilever, 2015, criticism), drawn from his ten years as poetry columnist for The Oregonian, and Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces, (Kelson Books, 2010), with a tenth anniversary edition, introduced by novelist Chuck Palahniuk, published in 2020.

He is the editor of the definitive edition of contemporary Pacific Northwest poets, Long Journey, published by Oregon State University Press in 2006, and the Everyman Library's edition of Poets of the American South, published by Random House in 2014.

David Biespiel lives in Portland with his wife, the poet and essayist Wendy Willis.

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.

Elinam Agbo

Writing Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

Elinam Agbo was born in Ghana and grew up in Kansas. A graduate of the Clarion Workshop, she holds a BA from the University of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where she co-founded MQR Mixtape. She is also a winner of the 2018 PEN/Dau Short Story Prize, a 2019 Aspen Words Fellow, and a recipient of the honorable mention prize for fiction in the 2019 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers. Her work has appeared and is forthcoming in American Short Fiction, The Bare Life Review, Nimrod, and elsewhere. 

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. 


Erica Berry

Associate Fellow at the Attic Institute

Erica Berry’s nonfiction debut, Wolfish: Wolf, Self, and the Stories We Tell About Fear, was published in February 2023 by Flatiron/Macmillan (US+Canada), and Canongate (UK+Commonwealth) in March 2023. Her essays and journalism appear in Outside, Catapult, Wired, The Yale Review, The Guardian, Literary Hub, Gulf Coast, The New York Times Magazine, Colorado Review, The Atlantic, and Guernica, among others. Winner of the Steinberg Essay Prize, she has received grants and fellowships from the Ucross Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources, and Tin House.

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. 

Thea Chacamaty

Writing Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

Thea Chacamaty is a fiction writer living in Portland, Oregon. She received her MFA in prose from the University of Michigan's Helen Zell Writers' Program, where in 2019-2020 she was a postgraduate Zell Fellow. She has been a recipient of the Henfield Prize from the Joseph McCrindle Foundation, a Hopwood Award, the Kasdan Prize, and her writing has appeared in the Missouri Review.

Emily Chenoweth

Adjunct Fellow in Fiction

Emily Chenoweth is the author of the novel, Hello Goodbye. She's a former fiction editor of Publishers Weekly. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Bookforum, and People, among other publications. Emily teaches in the Atheneum program.

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.



A Statement of Our Values

The Attic Institute of Arts and Letters opposes the legitimation of bigotry, hate, and misinformation in today's cultural and political environment. As a studio for writers, we do not tolerate harassment or discrimination of any kind. We condemn all acts of racism, sexism, ableism, classism, xenophobia, homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia. We embrace and celebrate our shared pursuit of literature and language as essential to crossing the boundaries of difference. To that end, we seek to maintain a creative environment in which every employee, faculty member, and student feels safe, respected, and comfortable. We accept the workshop as a place to question ourselves and to empathize with diverse identities. We understand that to know the world is to write a better world. Therefore, we reaffirm our commitment to literary pursuits and shared understanding by affirming social justice, diversity, and open inquiry.