Teachers & Staff

David Biespiel

David Biespiel

Founder of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters

David Biespiel (pronounced bye-speel) is a poet, memoirist, and literary critic, who 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 the author of twelve books, among them A Place of Exodus (September 2020),  Republic Café, The Education of a Young Poet, The Book of Men and Women, A Long High Whistle, and Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces. A contributor to The New Republic, The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, The Rumpus, Poetry, Politico, and Slate, he has won a number of awards for his writing, including Lannan Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, and Stegner fellowships, two Oregon Book Awards, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and he has been a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Balakian Award. He has taught at Stanford University, University of Maryland, George Washington University, and Wake Forest University. In addition to teaching at the Attic Institute, he is the Poet-in- Residence at Oregon State University and a core faculty member in the Rainier Writers Workshop MFA Program.

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. 


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.


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.