The Attic's Ed Skoog Among the 2018 Oregon Book Award Finalists

The Attic's own Ed Skoog is among the finalists for the 2018 Oregon Book Awards, which honor the finest accomplishments by Oregon writers in the genres of poetry, fiction, graphic literature, drama, literary nonfiction, and literature for young readers. Skoog was nominated for his third book of poetry, "Run the Red Lights" (Copper Canyon Press). His second book, "Rough Day," won the Washington State Book Award in Poetry for 2014.  His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Paris Review, The New Republic, Poetry, Narrative, Ploughshares, Tin House, and elsewhere.

Spots are still available in Skoog's Poetry Writing Workshop the weekend of February 24-25. Classes are Saturday and Sunday 12:30-5:30 PM in the Attic's North Library. Early Registration is $207 (cash/check) or $219 (PayPal), and the deadline is seven days prior to the start of the workshop. Late Registration is $222 (cash/check) or $234 (PayPal). A maximum of 12 students will be accepted. 

Rainier Writing Workshop MFA Program | Free Info Session | Mon Feb 26 7:30pm

The Rainier Writing Workshop is one of the premier low-residency MFA programs in the country, based at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, Washington. 

On Monday, February 26, at 7:30PM, the Attic Institute will host an info session about the RWW experience and the low-residency MFA program. Participating in the info session will be: Rick Barot, Director of the Rainier Writing Workshop; David Biespiel, President of the Attic Institute and a long-time RWW core faculty member; Caitlin Dwyer, former Attic Institute writer and current RWW student. 

Come on up. Join us to learn more about how low-residency MFA programs work, and about The Rainier Writing Workshop.

Details: RWW + MFA Information Session | FEBRUARY 26, 7:30pm | FREE

Please R.S.V.P.: Contact us to save your spot

Writing Prompt: Going to Extremes

Thanks to Poets & Writers for this week's writing prompt: 

Swiss photographer Steeve Iuncker has photographed Yakutsk, Siberia (coldest city in the world); Tokyo, Japan (most populous city in the world); and Ahwaz, Iran (most polluted city in the world) for a photo series project focusing on different record-holding locations. Write a poem about a record-holding city, using a real or humorously obscure record of your invention. You might find inspiration in a city you’ve lived in, loved, have never been to, or that only exists in your imagination. How are the geography, culture, and inhabitants affected by the extreme conditions? What kind of behavior and interaction unique to this place will you explore?

Inside North Korea's Literary Fiction Factory

With colorful rhetoric about dotards and nuclear buttons, North Korean propaganda is attracting attention around the world.

However, there’s another side to North Korean political messaging, one directed at the domestic population. One of the more illuminating forms of internal propaganda, Meredith Wilson writes in Aerogramme, is the regime’s state-produced fiction. Published in monthly literary journals, these stories are distributed by the ruling Korean Workers’ Party to select schools and offices around the country. Read the full story at Aerogramme

A North Korean propaganda poster proclaims, "Let's establish the habit of reading all over the country!"

Advice to Writers: "Wear Books Like Hats"

Here we are at the end of January, that time of year when New Year's resolutions begin to flag. If your commitment to writing could use a boost, remember that Winter II classes are starting soon! Also, here are some words of inspiration from Ray Bradbury to help you on your way. That wonderful man. This quote made me want to sit down immediately and write:

“If you want to write, if you want to create, you must be the most sublime fool that God ever turned out and sent rambling. You must write every single day of your life. You must read dreadful dumb books and glorious books, and let them wrestle in beautiful fights inside your head, vulgar one moment, brilliant the next. You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads.

Writing Prompt: Big and Small

New Year's Resolutions still fresh? Then it's time for a freewrite inspired by this picture. Notice the huge leaf; the tiny little deer. Why are they so small? What are they looking at? Was there a noise that stopped them in their tracks? What did it sound like? Is someone else there? What will happen next? 

Cell phones off, and give it a try!



"Placing a Premium on Pragmatism": the Working Poet

A few months ago, we alerted readers to a unique opportunity: the Mall of America, purportedly the biggest shopping mall in the country, was seeking a Writer in Residence. The winner would spend five days deeply immersed in the Mall and writing about it. Perks would include not only bragging rights, but also four nights in a hotel, a $400 mall gift card, and a $2,500 honorarium. Four thousand people applied, and a winner was announced: poet Brian Sonia-Wallace.

Writing Prompt: Guests

Now that the holidays are over, let's pay tribute to the guests. There's making yourself at home and party crashing, overstaying your welcome and snooping in the host's medicine cabinet - all that rich material for your fifteen minute write! So set your timer and get underway. 

$20,000 for a 100-Word Story: Museum of Words Flash Fiction Contest

The Cesar Egido Serrano Foundation’s fifth international flash fiction contest is now accepting entries. Administered by the Museo de las Palabras (Museum of Words) in Madrid, the competition is for very short fiction pieces of up to a maximum of 100 words. The winner will receive a prize of US$20,000, with three runners-up each receiving $1000.

2017-2018 Atheneum Fellows Announced

Congratulations to the class of 2018

Our annual certificate program, the Attic Atheneum melds independent study under close faculty supervision, student receptions, public readings, and other special Atheneum events created around good food and great conversation, dialogue, and literary community.


POETRY: Peggy Capps, Michelle Williams, Louise Wynn

FICTION: Doug Chase, Althea Gregory, Dennis Steinman, Don Westlight

NONFICTION: Heidi Beierle, Kathleen Goldberg, Heather Rocha, Nadia Webb

Storytelling in folk and country music

I was talking with a friend recently who was explaining his relatively newfoundland love for country music. Among his reasons were the songs simply tell stories. I think it's worth taking a look at the lyrics of country musicians in relation to a narrative; country songs, or songs whose lyrics are derivative of country and folk origin, transcend the format of prose or poetry while still giving us an account delivered with sentiment. 


Reading to keep existential anxiety at bay in the summertime

As of two days ago it is officially summer. 

I have mixed feelings about the summertime. I love swimming, hot weather, drinking iced coffee, warm nights, walking for hours without any destination, going to sleep red and waking up a shade darker. At the same time, as a student who takes classes nine months out of the year, June through August presents a kind of chasm in which routine is discarded and needed to be refound. I inevitably find myself with time on my hands to ponder too much. Recently I've been wrestling with the idea of existential dread and how to utilise the thoughts which arise from it to initiate helpful, discrusive thinking. I don't really think there's one solution, but I find comfort in texts which offer empathetic narratives. 

David Biespiel to publish memoir in October 2017

"In his beguiling voice . . . Biespiel’s supple memoir of becoming a poet will surely inspire other writers." — Publishers Weekly (starred review)

A beautifully rendered memoir about creative beginnings in the vein of Umberto Eco’s classic Confessions of a Young Novelist.

The Education of a Young Poet (Counterpoint Press) is Attic Institute of Arts and Letters' president David Biespiel’s moving account of his awakening to writing and the language that can shape a life. David writes for every creative person who longs to shape the actions of their world into art and literature. Woven throughout are reflections on the writer’s craft coupled with a classic coming of age tale that does for Boston in the 1980s what Hemingway's A Moveable Feast did for Paris in the 1920s.


...and they're free! Podcasts for Writers

A couple of years ago, my husband and I went on a long backpack. It was really very long. We crossed state lines; we passed from one season into the next. For weeks, we talked - about the scenery, the route, memories we had just remembered, the food we were missing. Eventually, we were talked out. We just walked, enjoying the quiet, the rustling, the birds. As the miles stretched into the hundreds, I discovered podcasts.

Writing Prompt: Gotcha!

Our free write is based on this picture: 

Write a poem, passage, or story about what you see happening here. Think of the physical: Is it hot? Noisy or not? How does it smell? Think about the softness of the monkeys' fur, the rebuke of the stick. 

Be as silly, literal and slapstick as you like.

Try taking sides: Start your piece with either "He had it coming" or "It was unfair."

Just 15 minutes! Ready, go... 




Subscribe to Attic Institute RSS

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."