Know The Characteristics of Highly Successful Book Proposals

Elizabeth Rusch's Book Proposal Writing Workshop | May 1 - May 29

Writing a book proposal is your best first step to writing a nonfiction or creative nonfiction book — and also enormously useful for memoir and short story collections and for help finding an agent. Often an excellent proposal helps you organize your ideas, understand the competition, and can help you land a publishing contract even before you write the book! This five-week class will take you step-by-step through the major parts of the book proposal: the query letter, overview, competitive analysis, the market, marketing and promotions, author background, and outline.

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Is One Day A Week All You Need To Keep Your Writing Alive?

Time to Write: Saturday Writing with Catie Bull | Apr 12 - May 10

Each class is dedicated to getting your pen moving across the page, plus group discussions about craft, technique, and strategies to keep you writing. Time to Write is the perfect setting for new and experienced writers to explore a character who's not quite real yet, a memoir you keep meaning to start, that elusive idea for a poem. The only expectation is that you're open to the process — all writers of all genres are welcome.

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How This One Workshop Can Help You Write Better Fiction

Merridawn Duckler's Craft of Fiction Writing Workshop | Apr 8 - May 6

Emphasizing one or more key elements — character, setting, dialogue, plot —while all the while fostering your strong original voice, we'll devote our time together in this workshop to crafting and revising short stories, sketches, and fictional drafts. We'll talk about topics in the craft of fiction writing from various approaches, and with exercises and discussion, with readings, we'll provide support, encouragement, and personal feedback for your writing goals. 

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

David Biespiel

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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

Are you ready to get back in the poetry saddle with Matthew Dickman?

Associate Fellow Matthew Dickman to teach new poetry workshop this spring.







Spring Cleaning Poetry Workshop

Mondays, 5-7pm, Mar 31-Apr 28

In this class we will be bringing in old work for a dusting and airing out as well as writing some new work in class. You don't have to bring paper towels or sponges but you should bring a pen, paper, and a sense of celebration!

Register for this class

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

Natalie Serber's Just Dive In Fiction Workshop | Mar 6 - Apr 3

There are no fixed rules you must follow to get your story onto the page. You have to want to do it, have the confidence to dive in and try things out (making mistakes and discoveries along theway), and you must have the tenacity to keep going.  In this workshop we will exercise our story-telling muscles: structure, conflict, characterization, dialog, compelling stakes, true sentences, precise details, all in the service of creating unique and shining narratives that stay with our readers.  We will dig into a few stories from John Cheever, George Saunders, ZZ Packer, Amy Bloom.  We will do a bit of generative writing together.  The bulk of our time will be spent discussing each others work in supportive and critical conversations.  Whether you are working on short stories, your very first story, or have a longer project in mind, you'll get thoughtful responses to your work, you'll flex your story-telling muscles and receive a bit of advice on publishing.

Check out this class

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


Wayne Gregory's Creative Writing Workshop | Apr 19 - May 17


So, You Want To Be A Writer?


    You have a thousand stories inside your head. You dabble on the page but rarely if ever finish anything, much less share with others. “Is my work good enough?” you wonder. “Do I have something original and interesting to say? What makes me think I can be a writer?” This workshop is designed for those who want to be writers, but are not sure they can be.

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    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.

    Take Natalie's fiction workshop

    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


    Paula Bohince joins the Attic Institute as a Teaching Fellow for Fall 2013

    This Fall...take an online poetry workshop with award-winning poet, Paula Bohince.

    Teaching Fellow Paula Bohince is the author of two poetry collections, both from Sarabande Books: The Children and Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods, which was nominated for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Her poems appear in The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, The TLS, Poetry, Granta, The Nation, Slate, Poetry London, Poetry Ireland Review, Raritan, Salmagundi, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She received the 2013 George Bogin Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. She served as the 2012 Dartmouth Poet in Residence at The Frost Place, the 2010-2011 Amy Lowell Poetry Travelling Scholar, a 2009 Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts, and the 2008 Amy Clampitt Resident Fellow. She has received the "Discovery"/The Nation Award and the Grolier Poetry Prize. She holds an MFA from New York University. She has taught at NYU, the New School, and elsewhere.

    Register for Paula's online workshops

    "On Voice" by Merridawn Duckler, Senior Fellow

    On Voice

    It always makes me smile when writers ask, “But what about my voice?” As if this was some exterior appendage that could be found or lost. I do understand the question because voice is an extraordinary source of power for any writer. Your voice is what ultimately reaches the reader. You don’t have to learn how to create it because it is already present and furthermore, your voice is unique as a fingerprint. It is also just as humble and available. 

    When writers in my workshops read their work out loud, in their modulations, hesitations, stumbles and commands, I hear how they are already working out what they want to say and how they want to say it. I hear where they’re keeping matters from me, and also from themselves. I encourage all writers to read their work out loud as they write and also to read other writers out loud, writers whom they admire as a way of understanding  how all the elements of an admirable piece comes together. Will reading your work out loud make you a better writer? Probably. Will it fix all your structural problems? No. For that you have to learn to listen. 

    Now if a writer in my workshop should say, “Merridawn, but where is my ear?” I’d consider that a really good question.

    Merridawn Duckler is a senior fellow at the Attic Institute. 

    Register for a workshop with Merridawn Duckler

    'Poetry on Broadway' opens September 23

    Portland's new downtown poetry reading series with some of the city and the nation's best poets.

    The Portland Center for Performing Arts has partnered with the Attic Institute to present Poetry on Broadway - a free poetry series in the heart of downtown Portland at PCPA in the rotunda of Antoinette Hatfield Hall at SW Main & Broadway.

    September 23: Linda Bierds

    October 14: Paulann Petersen & Zack Schomburg

    January 20: Rick Barot & Floyd Skloot

    February 24: Camille Dungy & Crystal Williams 

    May 19: Wendy Willis & Katrina Roberts

    The readings take place at 8pm across the alley from the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall with a reception at the ArtBar & Bistro (1111 SW Broadway). 

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    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."