Looking for an incentive to take a workshop at the Attic?

Workshop participants get free access to borrow books from our big literary library.

Thinking about taking an Attic workshop? Add this to your calculation: When you take a class here you get to use the books in our two libraries. We have several thousand books available. If you see something you like, use the check-out form and the book will be saved for you to read during the weeks you're taking a class.

Learn more about the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters Library


Whitney Otto named Associate Fellow

Congratulations to Whitney Otto for being named the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters' newest associate fellow. 

Whitney Otto is the author of five novels: How To Make an American Quilt, which was a New York Times Best Seller (as well as other bestseller lists) and NY Times Notable Book; nominated for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award, and adapted into a feature film produced by Steven Spielberg. Now You See Her was nominated for an Oregon Book Award, and optioned for film. The Passion Dream Bookwas a Los Angeles Times bestseller, optioned for a film, and an Oregonian Book Club selection. A Collection of Beauties at the Height of Their Popularity was a Multnomah County Library selection. Eight Girls Taking Pictures is being published by Scribner in November 2012. Her novels have been published in fourteen languages.

Her work has also appeared in anthologies, magazines and the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Oregonian. In 2006 she had an art exhibition of her shadow boxes at the Littman & White Galleries in Portland, OR.

Check out Whitney's upcoming workshops

Atheneum Faculty Reading and Introduction of Atheneum Class of 2015

Everyone is invited!

Tuesday, September 30, 7:30pm

Reading by Atheneum faculty: David Biespiel, Wendy Willis, Karen Karbo, Lee Montgomery, Merridawn Duckler, and Greg Robillard.

Plus, meet the new Atheneum Fellows: Cathy Cain, Brian Biggs, Janine Robben, Betsy Porter, Ryan Lopez, Kristen Nichols, Star Marabella, Katie Hughes, Tessa Togeson, Celia Carlson, Roger Scarbrough


Sep 30, 7:30pm / FREE

POETS ON BROADWAY | 2014-2015 Season

Poetry is downtown.

The Portland'5 Foundation and The Attic Institute are pleased to present: Poets on Broadway – a free poetry series hosted by Portland'5. Three monthly poetry events will be presented October 2014 – April 2015 in the Antoinette Hatfield Hall Rotunda. Nationally renowned poets will read alongside local emerging poets in the greater Portland community and the Pacific NW. Readings are free.

Presented by Portland'5 & The Attic Institute

Poets on Broadway

Monday, October 13, 8:00pm
Price: FREE
Presented by Portland'5 & The Attic Institute

Poets on Broadway

Monday, November 17, 8:00pm
Price: FREE
Presented by Portland'5 & The Attic Institute

Poets on Broadway

Monday, February 9, 8:00pm
Price: FREE


SPECIAL EVENT | Thursday, August 14, 7pm | Attic Institute Fellow and NPR Jerusalem reporter Emily Harris

A Conversation With Emily Harris About Events In Israel And Gaza 
Join Emily Harris, Adjunct Fellow at the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters (on leave) and National Public Radio International Correspondent based in Jerusalem and Gaza, who will be in Portland on Thursday, August 14, 7pm, at Stonehenge Studios to discuss the Middle East. Join us on the 14th and learn more about events before Emily returns to Jerusalem to continue her reporting. 

Conversation with Q & A about recent events in Israel and Gaza with NPR's Emily Harris.

WHEN: Thursday, August 14, 7pm.

WHERE: Stonehenge Studios, 3508 SW Corbett Ave. 503.224.3640.

Free. Seating is limited.

Sponsored by the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters and Stonehenge Studios

Attic Institute president David Biespiel says why poetry matters in the New York Times

Poems Hold the Mysteries of the Present, Dreams of the Future

David Biespiel

David Biespiel's most recent book of poems is "Charming Gardeners." His anthology "Poems of the American South" is due out next month in the Everyman's Library series.

JULY 21, 2014, 11:42 AM

I write this by campfire light in the back country of British Columbia, cut off from the digital world and miles from the nearest town.

Every society we've ever known has had poetry, and should the day come that poetry suddenly disappears in the morning, someone, somewhere, will reinvent it by evening . . . 

Read the article

Adjunct Fellow Wayne Gregory's THE TONGUES OF MEN AND ANGELS

Congratulations to Wayne Gregory upon the publication of his new memoir.

I spoke with the tongues of men and angels in the muggy shadows behind the interstate rest area, begging God to save me from sex with a strange man a week before my wedding day. Born and raised in the evangelical Christian South of the sixties and seventies, Wayne Gregory hid his homosexuality from others and from himself for years until he was finally forced out in middle age. This story chronicles the beginnings of his struggle as an adolescent, his budding sexuality and simultaneous passion for God. Despite desperate attempts to build an acceptable straight life, his homosexual desires got stronger, creating questions and exposing inconsistencies in his faith. Then came the crushing realization that the homosexual feelings were not random sins, but part of his very identity. The story takes place as Wayne struggles with this realization, life continues to bring new challenges: adopted children, infidelity, a crumbling marriage. A vortex of self-loathing and despair leads to a transformation in which the author gets a glimpse of how spirituality and homosexuality can come together in a single, honest, free life.


Order the book

Check out Wayne's upcoming workshops

FREE READING: Atheneum Class of 2014 to read fiction, nonfiction, and poetry

Celebrate with the end-of-year Atheneum readings. This event is one of the Attic Institute's best nights: great community, great food and drink, and great writing of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Mon June 2: Catherine Craglow, Kelly Wallace, Jennifer Dorner, Leah Hanes, Tiffany Stubbert, Janine Robben, Theresa MacDonald

Tue June 10: Brad Kerstetter, Catherine Kernodle, Greg Berman, Zaha Hassan, Elizabeth Lampman

Both readings are held at 7pm in Southwest Portland at Stonehenge Studios, 3508 SW Corbett Ave. / info@stonehengedesigns.com

How a life in poetry keeps poetry alive: An interview with David Biespiel on 'New Books in Poetry."

David Biespiel

View on Amazon

John Ebersole sits down with the president of the Attic Institute to discuss his upbriging, the world of contemporary poetry, and his latest book, Charming Gardeners. 

"David Biespiel‘s Charming Gardeners (University of Washington Press, 2013) is unlike any book I’ve read in a long time. Filled with epistolary poems, his book – despite being populated by the poet’s friends and family – is actually a work of great loneliness. In many ways, Biespiel’s journey is America’s, where the road is both a symbol of arrivals, but also departures, and in between is solitude. On the surface, Biespiel’s poems seem like the private meditations of one man. However, his poems encompass each of us, socially and politically, by illuminating our nation’s contradictory character: a longing for enchantment in a disenchanted world. The poems in Charming Gardeners live between the wilderness and the civilized and the poet, finding himself in this zone of uncertainty, does what any of us would do: call out to those we love. In our conversation we discuss his years in Boston and D.C., the Attic Institute in Portland, the poetry wars, and so much more. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did." ~ John Ebersole


Atheneum alum Celeste Hamilton Dennis remembers Levittown in the Huffington Post


Celeste Hamilton Dennis (Atheneum, '12)

published in The Huffington Post


Dear Levittown,

I'll be the first to admit: Our love hasn't always been a Billy Joel song.

In our early years together, I loved to spend my days swimming at your pools and hanging out at block parties and eating as much as I could at pancake fundraisers for high school sports teams. But my favorite thing? It was easy for me to find the bathrooms at all of my friend's houses. I liked how they all looked and felt the same.

Then I got older and your sameness started to make me feel weird. I sabotaged us. I stole bras from your department stores. I toilet papered your manicured lawns. I smoked pot in the sump behind the village green. I made out with boys on baseball fields and ruined pitching mounds.

Read the rest

David Biespiel to lead special one-day poetry workshop on February 23rd








David Biespiel's Poet and Muse Poetry Workshop

February 23, 2-4pm

Take a couple hours out of a winter weekend to rejuvinate your writing and thinking about your past and future poems. We'll be looking at one of your current poems, learning new methods of revision, and creating time to start fresh poems from prompts and discussion. This two-hour workshop will provide you with strong support, encouragement, critique, and inspiring ideas, as well as leads for reading and publication. Ideal for poets who have not yet taken one of David Biespiel's workshops at the Attic Institute. 

Register for this workshop

Jennifer Lauck named senior fellow at the Attic Institute



Congratulations to Jennifer Lauck for being named the Attic Institute's newest senior fellow. 

Jennifer Lauck is an award winning journalist and the author of four memoirs including the New York Times Bestseller, Blackbird. Featured on The Oprah Show, Winfrey told her audience, "this should have been a Book of the Month book. Read it now!"

Lauck's work has been translated into twenty-two languages, has been the bestseller lists in London, Ireland and Spain and has been featured in Newsweek, Harper's Bazaar, Talk Magazine, People, Glamour and Writer's Digest.  Her other memoirs include: Still Waters, Show Me the Way and Found.  Lauck has also published several essays in analogies, magazines and on line at Huffington Post. 

Lauck has an MFA in creative writing and a BA in journalism.  She's currently working on her first novel.


Check out Jennifer's classes


Elizabeth Rusch's Book Proposal Writing Workshop | Jan 23 - Mar 6


Primary tRESOLVE: Write That Bok Proposal NOW!

Have an idea for book? Work closely with a book proposal pro: Liz Rusch has sold six books based on her proposals. She knows that writing a book proposal is your best first step to writing a nonfiction or creative nonfiction book. Also enormously useful for memoir and short story collections. 

Sign up right now


Lee Montgomery's The Art of Personal Essay Workshop | Feb 3 - Mar 4

Some of the most interesting writing done today is personal essay and memoir.

Pushing narrative boundaries, utilizing traditional and nontraditional forms, this type of writing explores individuality and the minutiae of life unlike any other form. This workshop will help students explore the new world of personal essay writing and understand both traditional and nontraditional narrative strategies available to them. 

Learn more and save your spot

Natalie Serber joins the Attic Institute as a teaching fellow in 2014

Welcome, Natalie!

Natalie Serber is a fiction writer, essayist, and educator. She is the author of the story collection Shout Her Lovely Name, a New York Times 100 “Notable Books” of 2012, a summer reading pick from O, the Oprah Magazine and an Oregonian Top 10 Book of the Pacific Northwest for 2012. Her fiction has appeared in The Bellingham Review, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. Essays and reviews have appeared at The Rumpus, The New York Times, and Salon. Her awards include The John Steinbeck Award, Tobias Wolff Award, HE Francis Award, all for fiction, and an honorable mention for the Annie Dillard Award for Non Fiction. Natalie received her MFA from Warren Wilson College, and she is currently working on a novel set in Boring, Oregon.

Brian Benson joins the Attic Institute as an Associate Fellow

Welcome, Brian!

Brian Benson is a proud alum of the 2011-12 Attic Atheneum. A former Spanish instructor and nonprofit organizer, he has taught extensively in classroom and experiential settings. His first book, Going Somewhere, a memoir about a cross-country bike trip and the search for personal direction, will be published in early 2014.

Register for Brian's upcoming workshop

Emily Whitman joins the Attic Institute as Associate Fellow

Welcome, Emily!

Emily Whitman writes books for children and teens. Her YA Wildwing won the 2012 Oregon Book Award for Young Adult Literature and was a Bankstreet College Best Children’s Book. Radiant Darkness was #1 on the IndieBound Kid’s Next List, selected by independent booksellers, and was an Oregon Book Award finalist. Emily has taught at writing conferences including the Pacific Northwest Children’s Book Conference and the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators Oregon Conference, and she writes poetry, prose and nonfiction for educational publishers. She’s currently at work on a Middle Grade novel.

Register for Emily's next workshop

Attic Institute president David Biespiel steps down as poetry columnist after 11 years

His column in the Oregonian was the longest running newspaper column about poetry in the United States

Read David Biespiel's last column on Sunday, Sept 22, 2013

The first piece of prose I ever wrote about poetry in a daily newspaper was in 1989 for the old Book World section of The Washington Post. Egged on by an insipid poetry review the Post had recently published, I wrote to the editor, Michael Dirda, to offer my services as a new reviewer and pitched some books.

This was audacious of me, for sure. I was 25 years old. And I'd never written a poetry review before.

"How do I know you're not married to one of these people?" he asked in a subsequent phone call before assigning, on spec, a roundup of five books that included new work by Louise Gl£ck, James Dickey, Lucille Clifton and others. Thus my career writing about poetry in newspapers began.

Read the entire final column

A dozen Attic Institute faculty and writers set to read at Wordstock 2013

Check out Attic Institute faculty and writers October 5-6 at the Oregon Convention Center.

Saturday Oct 5

2pm: David Biespiel reads from his new book, Charming Gardeners

4pm: Stacy Bolt, former Atheneum Fellow, reads from her new book, Breeding in Captivity: One Woman's Unusual Path to Motherhood.

Sunday Oct 6

11am: Whitney Otto reads from her new book, Eight Girls Taking Pictures.

11am: David Melville, JoAnna Prahl, Shelley Stearns, former Atheneum fellows read poetry. 

12pm: Andrea Hollander reads from her new book, Landscape with Female Figure: New & Selected Poems, 1982 - 2012.

12pm: Elizabeth Rusch reads from her new book, The Mighty Mars Rovers.

1pm: Ariel Gore reads from her new book, The End of Eve: A Memoir.

3pm: Karen Karbo reads from her new book, Julia Child Rules.

3pm: Paulann Petersen reads from her new book, Understory.


Cheryl Strayed is the keynote speaker on Thurusday, Oct 3, at the Mission Theater on NW Glisan.

Attic Institute president David Biespiel to read from new book at Powell's on Hawthorne

Book launch for Charming Gardeners by David Biespiel

Thursday, October 10, 7:30pm

Powell's on Hawthorne | 27th and SE Hawthorne

The poems in David Biespiel's new collection, Charming Gardeners (University of Washington), explore the "insistent murmurs" of memory and the emotional connections between individuals and history, as well as the bonds of brotherhood, the ghosts of America's wars, and the vibrancy of love.

Order a copy of Charming Gardeners


Subscribe to Attic Institute RSS

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."