Oregon Book Awards Winners

Congratulations to all of the Oregon Book Awards Winners!

"Literary Arts’ Oregon Book Awards & Fellowships program provides financial support and recognition to published and emerging writers across our state. The program also creates connections with Oregon’s readers and writers through free community programming."

Special shout out to past Attic Fellow Vanessa Veselka and her novel The Great Offshore Grounds for winning the Ken Kesey Award for Fiction.

Check out the complete list of finalists for fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. Don't forget to read each book's blurb to find out what Oregonians are writing.

Fellow Feature: Whitney Otto

Meet Whitney Otto

Whitney Otto, long-time Attic Fellow and renown writer, talks generously about her writing, reading, reading as writers, and her newest book Art for the Ladylike: An Autobiography Through Other Lives that came out this year.

Order Art for the Ladylike: An Autobiography Through Other Lives here

Want to learn more about Whitney? Check out her website to keep up to date.


Q: What book or article have you read recently that you really enjoyed?

A: In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado and The Big Book of the Dead by Marion Winick really stand out for me. Also, Good Talk by Mira Jacob, which is a graphic memoir.  I’ve also re-read a couple of books: Women in Their Beds by Gina Berriault and The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein. I ended up re-reading the Stein book because it has a new illustrated edition by one of my all-time favorite illustrators, Maira Kalman, and because it’s comfort food.

A More Personal Look at the Attic's Atheneum

Listen to current Atheneum Fellows answer questions about their time in the Atheneum program:

What has been the most productive part of the program so far?

"I've appreciated how much more structured my writing process has become and the monthly deadlines to turn in work. It has kept me on track to finish a solid draft of my memoir by the time the program concludes in June." - Kristin Moran

"It’s the community we’ve all formed that helps motivate me to sit in the chair and write. I carry their words with me every day." - Mae Cohen

"First, the meetings with my accomplished, experienced, thoughtful mentors have helped me enormously. They’ve encouraged me and given me resources and advice that has helped me to organize my project and look at my writing more critically.

The other part is the community the fellows have created together via sprinting. This is a weekday write-a-long that we do by text. It generally lasts about an hour. How it works is someone will text the group that they’re writing now, and people join in if they can. Sometimes we chat a bit before and after but it’s not the lengthy social event of a Zoom call. It’s a nice way to stay connected, share issues, and not feel so alone in the process." - Signe Kopps

"My monthly mentorship meetings with Whitney have always built me up and helped to get my compass pointing the right way again. I've also enjoyed our big group meetings, the salons, and the craft exercises that the mentors have had us work on. But what might be the most productive part of the program for my extroverted self has been the connections I've made with the other writers. We are all on a group text together and every morning, someone texts just to say they are writing, that way we can join in to write "together" if we are able to. My group, the nonfiction writers, has also started to meet every month electively, just to get more eyes on our projects. It's been so great to know the other writers and be vulnerable with them." - Gemma Hobbs

Do You Have A Story to Tell?

A Writer’s Toolkit: How to Get Started As A Writer w/ Wayne Gregory

"You have a story to tell, but you’re not sure how to get started. The Writer’s Toolkit is the class for you.  In this workshop, you will discover how to transform your ideas from imagination to a cohesive and compelling story that engages readers and keeps them turning the pages for more. You will learn some of the basic conventions for good writing that successful writers use: how to develop plot, how to create compelling characters, how to build dynamic scenes, and how to show rather than tell. You will learn by doing and will take away a wealth of writing tools and resources to keep honing your craft after the workshop is over. Whether you’ve never written anything or you’ve got reams of pages that you’re not sure what to do with, this workshop will be valuable for you. Sign up for A Writer’s Toolkit and learn the strategies you need to get you started as a writer and keep you going."

Learn more here.

Liberate Your Writing Practice

Writing in New Poetic Forms Workshop w/ Ashley Toliver

"Liberate your writing practice and bust open the boundaries of your work with this genre-bending workshop. Each week, you'll be introduced to fresh hybrid and mixed genre work while exploring new possibilities in your own poems. What can a poem do when it isn't hemmed-in by convention? How can we achieve poetry's effects without received forms? With plenty of in-class exercises and weekly feedback, this class is an invigorating and sunny literary joy ride for writers of all experience levels."

Learn more here.

Don't Submit in the Dark: Erica Krouse's Submission Strategies

Alongside her Ranking of 500 Fiction LitMags and CNF-Specific LitMags, Erica Krouse also has a Submission Strategies resource for those new to submitting work or for those who want to try a new tactic.

By referencing the tiers in her "Ranking of 500 Fiction LitMags" and offering other tidbits of advice from her own submission experiences, Krouse illuminates a potential path to publication that is specific, structured, and useful.

Where to Submit: Erica Krouse on Nonfiction

Much like her Ranking of 500 Fiction LitMags, fiction writer Erica Krouse also created a short list of literary journals and magazines that are exceptional places to submit creative nonfiction. 

While CNF-Specific LitMags is not as exhaustive as her fiction list, Krouse deftly points out a few journals that are particularly known for being highly rated for their essay publications in opposition to their ranking on her fiction list. 

Otherwise, Krouse infers that the success of an essay submission falls in line with her rankings of fiction journals and magazines in her initial list.

Where to Submit: Erica Krouse's Submission List

In 2018, fiction writer Erica Krouse compiled a list of over 500 literary magazines and journals to help fiction writers figure out where to submit work based on each journal's awards, circulation, payment, and overall "coolness." 

Updated for 2021, Ranking of 500 Fiction LitMags is a great resource to begin the process of researching where, as a writer, you would like your work to be published and why. While the list is cultivated with fiction in mind, most journal's rankings also apply to poetry and creative nonfiction as well. 

Krouse writes "I've often had students ask me what the “best" literary magazines were. I realized that I didn't actually know, right after I agreed to teach an intensive class on the subject. Where are the best places to submit, and according to what standards? I stumbled Clifford Garstang's incredibly helpful blog. But then I wondered, what about Best American Short Stories? So I found John Fox’s excellent site. And the O. Henry site. Then I wondered why all the rankings were so different from each other. And then I wondered if I had any Valium left over from my prescription 10 years ago. And then I remembered spreadsheets."

Check out her exquisitely exhaustive submission list!

The Work Room: Attend to Your Creativity Remotely

In response to the pandemic, The Shipman Agency has created a bounty of online craft workshops, seminars, and manuscript consultations to not only provide income for the authors they represent, but to provide invaluable resources to members of the literary community across the world.

In The Work Room, the Shipman Agency offers classes year-round, so if you don't see one you're intersted in now—check back later and often! Furthermore, they are also offering scholarships to cover all or a portion of the course registration fees for individuals unable to afford the price of attendance.

So if you've ever wanted to discuss writing with Shelia Heti, Ilya Kaminsky, David Shields, Patricia Smith and more, now is your chance.

For more information, email cassie@theshipmanagency.com.

Want an MFA Experience (But Better?)

Listen to current Atheneum Fellows answer questions about their time in the Atheneum program:

What are you working on during your time as an Atheneum fellow?

"I'm currently working on writing and revising a memoir about my concussion/traumatic brain injury, focusing on the first two years of my recovery. The book examines the themes of identity and family—How can one re-imagine a new life when so much has been lost? How can a family re-build itself and move forward? The challenges of navigating a medical system where little is known about concussion is also woven throughout the story." - Kristin Moran

"I’m writing a novel set in a California desert in the 1890’s featuring two women who are abducted by the Gorgons of mythology and taken to ancient Greece. " - Signe Kopps

"I'm working on my memoir! It's a coming of age story about discovering my queerness at seventeen years old, while navigating the Colorado River on an epic rafting adventure." - Gemma Hobbs

"I am working on a memoir about growing up with an intellectually and emotionally disabled mother. I was immersed in fundamentalist Christian culture and went to a Christian college. From this background I went to medical school and became a pediatrician. My memoir is about crossing a chasm and living in a different culture." - Mae Cohen

Fellow Feature: Ruben Quesada

Ruben Quesada

Meet Ruben Quesada, the Attic's newest writing fellow. As the author of two chapbooks and a collection of poetry, Quesada has plenty of writing experience. Alongside his writing, he is a poetry editor, literary translator, reading series organizer, and the founder of Latinx Writers Caucus. With such a diverse literary background, Quesada comes prepared to teach at the Attic with a nuanced set of tools.

Sign up for his upcoming workshops here

Check out his full bio on the Attic or learn more at his website

Q: How are you?

A: The past year has been very challenging, but I am hopeful about where things are going. I believe we’ll have some semblance of normalcy closer to the end of the year, and certainly at the start of next year.

Crafting a Memoir

Craft of Memoir w/ Brian Benson

"Whether you're just getting started or looking to improve your work-in-progress, this new workshop will help you translate your personal experiences into a vivid, absorbing memoir. Through a mix of discussion, guided exercises and peer critique, we'll explore the many ways to pull compelling, relatable stories from one's life story, and we'll read and discuss a wide variety of memoir for inspiration and insight. Students will leave the workshop with many reading recommendations and writing resources."

Learn more here.

A House to Write In, From, and About

A Generative Fiction Workshop w/ Elinam Agbo

"A house can be many things. A witness, a shelter, a prison. A house can hold multitudes. Family matters, domestic conflicts, psychological warfare, ants. What lives in a house? What stays together, and what falls apart? How do writers of the uncanny utilize the rooms and walls in a house? We’ve all heard of the haunted, weary house. But what about the liveliest house on the block? What does it have to say? In this generative workshop, we will explore the role of the house (and the many voices inside it) through writing exercises and prompts. We will also read and discuss short stories by Daisy Johnson, Mariana Enriquez, Samantha Hunt, Helen Oyeyemi, Amelia Gray, K-Ming Chang, and others. Then, with the tools we’ve gained, we will investigate this multifaceted space in our own work."

Learn more here.

Has Your Writing Been to Hell and Back?

Generative Fiction Workshop: To Hell and Back w/ Thea Chacamaty

"In this generative fiction workshop, we will read and write characters who, like Persephene descending to Hades or Dorian Gray’s deal with the devil, get in touch with their dark sides. What is the dark side? When confronted with their own failures, weaknesses, and other temptations, what choices do these characters make? We will read stories by Lucia Berlin, Shruti Swamy, William Trevor, Jamel Brinkley, and more to find out. The goal of the workshop is to write a draft of a short story in just five weeks. In those weeks you will be provided specific writing exercises to steer your process along, and we will share our work for critique throughout."

Learn more here.

Need Longer Intervals Between Workshops?

Monthly Poetry Gathering and Workshop w/ John Morrison

"Here’s a workshop that can flow with the longer rhythms of your writing. A Saturday morning of each month, we’ll gather and share one or two poems in a comfortable but focused fashion. You choose the poem to share based on what feedback you are looking for; the poems could range from one you want ready to submit for publication, to an experimental piece that needs a supportive but critical eye. Along the way we’ll talk about craft and how to grow and sustain a fulfilling practice.  Come ready to share your poems and insights and to carry generous feedback home to your writing desk."

Learn more here.

Learn About Craft w/ Wayne Gregory

So You Wanna Be a Writer Workshop w/ Wayne Gregory

"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?”  The biggest obstacle for emerging writers is not lack of time nor lack of skill nor lack of things to write about. It’s a lack of self-confidence. This workshop is designed for those who want to be writers, but are not sure they can be.  It provides a safe space for you to explore your interest in writing within a community of others who are on the same journey of exploration that you are. You will have an opportunity to share your writing and receive feedback that will help you identify your creative strengths and build on them. If you have work to share, bring it. If you haven’t written anything, bring an open mind to the possibilities that the class may open for you. Learn about the craft and, in the process, discover what it is about you that makes your stories worth telling and makes you the only writer who can tell them."

Learn more here.

Add Sci-Fi to Your Poetic Palette

Ekphrastic Poetry Workshop w/ Ruben Quesada

"It Came from Outer Space: This class will focus on writing new poetry. In this workshop we will challenge our notions of ekphrasis by focusing our attention on sci-fi films to generate our poems. While the Greek term ekphrasis translates simply as ‘a vivid description’ of a thing, the long-established tradition of ekphrastic poetry opens the door to a wide range of creative approaches for poets to engage with a work of art in another medium. Ekphrastic poems utilize a myriad of forms and strategies, and they respond to, incorporate, investigate, embellish, interpret and/or reflect upon a vital work of art—usually either a painting, photograph, or sculpture. You will be expected to view one

or more of the films from the list below as the source of artwork."

Learn more here.

Revise with New Purpose

Seeing the Story with Fresh Eyes: Revision Workshop w/ Thea Chacamaty

"Two-hour Seminar: Have you finished a draft of a short story, essay, poem, or novel and are now ready to enter the next phase--the arduous, maddening, and fun process of revision? This two-hour seminar will help you see your work with fresh eyes. To revise in Latin means to “re-see” or to “see again.” Using targeted writing exercises to summon the heart of our writing, we will learn new revision techniques that make the writing new again."

Learn more here.

Need Some Fiction Fun?

The Future: A Generative Fiction Workshop w/ Elinam Agbo

"In the Netflix anthology series Love, Death, and Robots, the future takes many forms. Cats survive the apocalypse while humans are extinct. Farmers fight an endless battle. Sentient yogurt takes over the world. Many of these episodes are adapted from short stories, writers envisioning a range of possibilities, given what they know of the past and the present. So, how do we imagine the future when the present feels like dystopia? What remains the same in a world of endless innovation? What has the potential to change? In this generative workshop, we will explore the future through weekly writing exercises. And through the work of writers like Rivers Solomon, George Saunders, NK Jemisin, John Scalzi, and Octavia Butler, we will examine the many paths humanity can take from here, for better or for worse."

Learn more here.

Make it Small, Make it Nonfiction

Introduction to Flash Nonfiction w/ Brian Benson

"Flash nonfiction, simply put, is true-to-life writing defined by extreme compression: it's saying what you've got to say using as few words, and as much beauty, as possible. An endlessly accessible, playful, potent form, flash nonfiction is evermore popular; from Brevity to Barren, The Forgeto The Sun, legions of journals are eager to publish great flash.

In this prompt-driven workshop, we'll read short nonfiction by master writers, including Ross Gay, Natalie Lima, Ira Sukrungruang, Roxane Gay, Jerald Walker, Ruth Ozeki, and many more; we'll talk about what stories are suited for flash, how to tell them well, and where to publish them; and most of all, we'll write, and write, and write, via in-class exercises and take-home prompts. Students will leave the class with reams of new writing and ideas for where to publish."

Learn more here.

Spend Some Time With Your Stories

Story Building Workshop w/ Joanna Rose

"Stories have component parts, and they interact. Starting with the basic building block of scene we’ll start with character and move step by step through the micro-levels of sentences, concrete detail, cause and effect, narration, and structure. Each week includes a close read of an excerpt of a published work and a discussion of specific craft elements. Participants will be invited to turn in work each week and can expect to develop a language of non-judgmental critique that will lead to a supportive, in-depth conversation about each other’s work. We’ll look deeply into what it takes to build a prose narrative, real or imagined, long or short."

Learn more here.

Focus on Your Nonfiction


Art of Personal Essay and Memoir w/ Lee Montgomery

"Personal Essays and memoir represent some of the most adventurous writing today. 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 world of memoir and personal essay writing and understand both traditional and nontraditional narrative strategies available to them. Though the class will be run as a classic workshop, where students will submit their work to be reviewed in class, it will also combine craft lectures, outside reading, and in-class exercises. Students are expected to workshop twice. This will include their original essay submitted to class plus a revision."

Learn more here.

One-Day Poetry Immersion

Generative Poetry Workshop: Four Temperaments w/ Ruben Quesada

"This one-day generative poetry class is an introduction to help you write and examine your own work for revision. Using the four elements of Story, Structure, Music, and Imagination, poets will identify and attempt to balance these elements in their own work. We will use Gregory Orr’s essay “The Four Temperaments and the Forms of Poetry” to examine and revise our own poetry. Prompts will be provided to encourage you to explore and deepen your understanding of each temperament. Reading: Gregory Orr, 'The Four Temperaments and the Forms of Poetry.'"

Learn more here.

Attend the Attic's Poets Studio

Poets Studio w/ David Biespiel

"One of the things I feel Poets Studio participants, regardless of experience and skill, can benefit from, is an extended concentration on only a few pieces over a couple months.

The theme for the Spring Sessions will be "Devotions." We'll focus on poems written "to" -- whether they're epistolary explicitly or dedicatiory. With a singular audience in place, Spring Sessions will progress as follows:

Sessions 1-3: Making. We’ll start from scratch on a few poems, developing strategies of imagination, research, trial and error, and writing several “test” drafts over several weeks.  

Sessions 4-7: Noticing. Here we’ll begin to be attentive to what might be possible with various drafts of poems, in the writing process — noticing what they are doing and not doing, what they are implying and avoiding, and what they are potentially able to become, and what they can’t ever become (but might as well try it out to find out for sure), as we make more and more drafts.  

Sessions 8-10: Changing. Someone else, not me, would call these last three sessions, Revision. The goal of the last three sessions is to continue making changes, narrowing the possibilities, all the way until your poem or poems are “finished.”  

My hope is that, after the ten Spring Sessions, you’ll have freshly experienced a process of writing, including writing together each week during Poets Studio gatherings that gives you new tools, skills, and patience for writing your poems. The goal of the Spring Sessions is for everyone to finish 2-3 brand new poems, while we’re all in conversation with each other, and then to prepare these, as you see fit, to submit for publication in the fall. "

Learn more here. Applications are due March 21st.

Attend the Attic's CNF Studio

CNF Studio w/ Brian Benson

"The Creative Nonfiction Studio is based on the idea that inspiration, accountability, and community are essential to every writer’s growth. The CNF Studio meets weekly for three-month sessions, and its curriculum is designed to help you deepen your writing through a keener understanding of both literary craft and your own voice. The CNF Studio is open to applications from all writers, and members often return for multiple sessions. This creates the Studio’s special experience: a consistent, deep, and supportive study of your writing in the company of other writers."

Learn more here. Applications are due March 28th.

AWP is This Week!

This week, from March 3rd-7th is this year's Annual AWP (virtual) Writing Conference!

Check out hundreds of panels, resources, and the bookfair throughout the week, but first, be sure to register here. For a full schedule of the conference, click here.  In the meantime, here's a sneak peak of some of the panels below:

The Biggest (Online) Writing Conference: AWP 2021

March is right around the corner which means so is this year's AWP Conference!

Running from March 3rd-7thAWP Conference & Bookfair is "the annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers of contemporary creative writing. It includes thousands of attendees, hundreds of events & bookfair exhibitors, and five days of essential literary conversation and celebration. The AWP Conference & Bookfair has always been a place of connection, reunion, and joy, and we are excited to offer the same experience in a new way this year."

Better yet, this year's conference is entirely virtual. Not only does that mean that the bookfair and the panels are more accessible than ever, but that the videos of the conference will be available on-demand until April 3rd.

Be sure to register and take advantage of being a member of the global literary community.

Fellow Feature: Brian Benson

Brian Benson

Brian Benson, former Attic student and current Attic fellow, talks generously about writing, Portland, and his book This is Not for You that is out this month.

Sign up for his upcoming workshop "Craft of Memoir" here.

Order This is Not for You from OSU Press here

**Over fifty percent of the royalties earned on This Is Not for You will be donated to organizations working on behalf of Black Portlanders.

Want to learn more about Brian? Check out his website to keep up to date.

Q: How are you?

A: I’m doing okay, thanks! I’m one of those weirdos who likes the gray and cold, so I’ve been doing alright with the COVID winter. Also, after a month or so off, I’m back to teaching, which is such a comfort; this past year especially, writing workshops have been my number-one antidote to loneliness. And I’m gearing up for the release of This Is Not for You, the memoir I wrote with and about Portland activist Richard Brown. After many months of monotony and dread, it’s nice to have something to look forward to. 

Don't Write Your Memoir Alone

Craft of Memoir w/ Brian Benson

"Whether you're just getting started or looking to improve your work-in-progress, this new workshop will help you translate your personal experiences into a vivid, absorbing memoir. Through a mix of discussion, guided exercises and peer critique, we'll explore the many ways to pull compelling, relatable stories from one's life story, and we'll read and discuss a wide variety of memoir for inspiration and insight. Students will leave the workshop with many reading recommendations and writing resources."

For more information, click here.

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From David Biespiel, President of the Attic Institute of Arts and Letters


Letter in 2010 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."


Essay in the New York Times on they mysteries of poetry

"Poetry connects us to our past, and poets unmask both private and civic memories, dreams, and urgencies. By harmonizing the body with the mind, serving both young and old, poetry is a guide to deliver us into a fresh engagement with our inner lives and with modernity."


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."