Squirrels in Every House

Did you want to read more about squirrels that are similar to those in Jo Ann Beard's famous essay, "The Fourth State of Matter," published in 1996?

Look no further than T Kira Mahealani Madden's newest essay "When the Squirrels Are Over" published in Catapult.

"I can’t find a metaphor for the squirrels. Each time they scratch and chatter above the bedroom ceiling, or nibble through the insulation of our attic leaving a confetti of toxins on the kitchen counter, each time they screech and scream their mating calls and fuck and tumble and find a new way into our house, I think, This should mean something. This should carry allegorical or metaphorical properties; that might make it feel better. But there is no meaning. I haven’t found one yet."

A Glimpse Into An Indie Press

Literary Hub's Corinne Segal sat down with Belt Publishing, a for-profit independent press, and talked about the ins and outs of the publishing industry in "Interview with an Indie Press."

What are some of the benefits to working at an independent press?

"Right there in the name: independence. We get to choose what to publish, how much to publish, how to allocate our resources. It seemed like a suspicious truism to me before I started doing this—that independent presses were where risks could be taken, where unknown writers who don’t have industry savvy could get a break, and where interesting and less “commercial” work could be done without huge pressure to sell tens of thousands of copies. But it turns out the truism is true!..."

A Conversation Between Dorothea Lasky and Lauren Berlant

In a conversation published in MAKE Literary Magazine, poet Dorothea Lasky and literary scholar Lauren Berlant "share an interest in pedagogy, since they identify first and foremost as teachers. And while Lasky and Berlant diverge wildly on the topic of God and spirituality (a marked disjunction of the case), both urgently and forcefully study the way we operate and live in the world."

"Lauren Berlant: I am a person of the world. I am interested in the flourishing of beings in the context of lives that they are hammering out in the present. I am interested in the ways people find sustenance and make survival happen in worlds that are not organized for them. I am interested in why people stay attached to lives that don’t work, as though people would not survive the wholesale transformation of those attachments and the lives built around them, as though they would rather be miserable, stuck, or numb than tipped over in the middle of invention. Making worlds is very hard and losing them is devastating."

While this conversation occurs in 2014, its themes remain urgent and insightful. Read more.

Emerging Writer Fellowship

The Georgia Review just launched an Emerging Writer Fellowship Program and applications are open from June 1st-August 15th.

In conjunction with the literary journal's publication of their special issue SoPoCo, the fellowship program also launches "in partnership with the nonprofit artist residency program AIR Serenbe, which is based outside of Atlanta.  The winners—one in prose, one poetry—will receive publication, win a one-month stay at AIR Serenbe, and give a reading in Athens, Georgia, with a $1500 honorarium and all travel and lodging provided. We invite emerging writers who write from these diasporic communities to apply. Applicants must not have published a full-length book, or have one under contract, by the application deadline."

A Short Story to Sink Your Teeth Into

Featured on Electric Literature, "One Last Night with the Worst Best Friends" is one of the stories in Brandon Taylor's newest short story collection Filthy Animals

About Taylor's writing, Calvert Morgan, the Executive Editor of Riverhead Books, says "that Taylor’s gift is his ability to hold you in that now, like a dragster gunning against the brake until the rubber starts to smoke. He opens Filthy Animals in a moment of complete torpor; it’s a daredevil move for a writer who wants to seize our attention, but then Taylor never fails to arrest us..." 

Read Morgan's full review of Taylor's book or jump to the bottom of the website to read Taylor's captiviatng short story.

2021 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry: Natalie Diaz

Congratulations to Natalie Diaz for winning the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for her poetry collection, Postcolonial Love Poem.

It is "a collection of tender, heart-wrenching and defiant poems that explore what it means to love and be loved in an America beset by conflict."

"Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages—bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers—be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: “Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality." -Graywolf Press

Want a Literary Internship in Minneapolis?

Coffee House Press is a nationally known and renowned nonprofit publishing house located in Northeast Minneapolis. They publish annually sixteen to twenty books—novels, short stories, poetry, and literary essays.

Coffee House Press is accepting applications now until July 5th for their fall internship which will introduce you to all aspects of a small literary publisher, and will give you skills that can also easily transfer to larger publishing houses and other careers, both in the arts and elsewhere. Fall internships will be in-person at our Minneapolis office with some remote work opportunities.

On A Nonfiction Reading Kick?

Want to read some more nonfiction?

Literary Hub has two detailed reading lists for you: The 10 Best Memoirs of the Decade and The 10 Best Essay Collections of the Decade.

While the titles of the articles only say "ten," each list is accompanied by a list of books that did not quite make the cut as well as a list of honorable mentions. Besides the honorable mentions, each book is blurbed which makes deciding what to read next even easier.

What An Essay Can Do

On Essay Daily, Rebecca McClanahan collected a list of 72 words or "moves" that a work of creative nonfiction can attempt to do. An essay is not simply a recounting of facts. Like McClanahan's list points toward, an essay can do an inexhaustable amount of things.

"...narrate, describe, record, persuade, quote, document, ask a question, argue, inform, make a scene, weave, collide, list, sidewind, sidestep, skip a step, inventory, time travel, tell a tale within a tale, interview, meditate, speculate, ruminate, intrude, interrupt, deconstruct, reconstruct, reveal, talk back to an earlier self..."

Zadie Smith on the Failure of the Craft Talk

"That Crafty Feeling," a lecture Zadie Smith gave to Columbia's writing program back in 2008 and that was published in Believer Magazine, is a craft talk that is surprisingly anti-craft, yet full of helpful tips and cutting prose.

Smith's meditation on craft talks is wonderfully self-aware and her advice will leave you with plenty to chew on.

"Reading about craft is like listening to yourself breathe. Writing about craft prompts a self–consciousness so acute one forgets how to exhale altogether. It’s clear to me that James, or any good academic or critic, will be able to tell you far more about craft than I can, and do so with more clarity, more utility, not to mention a lot less anxiety. The question how does fiction work? is an answerable one. The question how do you write fiction? isn’t really, not without becoming a little fraudulent in the answering of it."

Revisiting A Favorite

A year ago, Sabrina Orah Mark published the essay "Fuck the Bread. The Bread is Over." in her column Happily for The Paris Review.

365 days later, Mark's dark humor and stinging comparisons about the overlap between fairytales and reality still ring true.

"In fairy tales, form is your function and function is your form. If you don’t spin the straw into gold or inherit the kingdom or devour all the oxen or find the flour or get the professorship, you drop out of the fairy tale, and fall over its edge into an endless, blank forest where there is no other function for you, no alternative career. The future for the sons who don’t inherit the kingdom is vanishment. What happens when your skills are no longer needed for the sake of the fairy tale? A great gust comes and carries you away."

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.

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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."