Division of HumanitiesMFA in Creative Writing - Low Residency

Rainier Writing Workshop


"I am impressed with the caliber, commitment, and generosity of the faculty. Their willingness to engage with us in and out of our classroom made this experience unlike any other I've had."

David Biespiel

David Biespiel






Mentor. Workshops and classes in poetry.

Statement: "One of poetry's capacities is to reveal a process of thinking by feeling. The imprint of a poet's mind in his or her poems is one distinguishing factor, and that imprint is relayed through form and revealed through content. My understanding of poetry is that we make these kinds of formal decisions both consciously and unconsciously. If one decides to write a poem in free verse, that's a catalyzing formal decision. The more you understand what those decisions are, how you arrived at your assumptions about them, and what their consequences are beforehand, then the more you will be able to master the emotional, formal, ideational, psychic, and spiritual demands that arise in your poems. What I mean is, you can say you want to focus on content only but in the end we’re all going to be discussing form (in workshops, in discussions, on panels, in mentoring). Discovering form is not just the filter but the catalyst for content and for finding one’s subject, and for creating communion with some readers somewhere. Focusing on form strengthens our capacities to reinvent our imaginative representations of experience.


David Biespiel is the author of five collections of poetry, most recently Charming Gardeners.  Previous collections include Shattering Air, Pilgrims & Beggars, Wild Civility, and The Book of Men and Women, which was named among the Best Poetry of the year by the Poetry Foundation and was selected by Robert Pinsky for the Oregon Book Award.  His anthology, Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets, received the William Stafford Memorial Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association.  His book on writing and creativity, Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces, is based on his 2009 lecture at RWW and has sold out several editions.  In the fall of 2014, Everyman’s Library will publish his edition of Poems of the American South.  In addition, he writes the Poetry Wire column for The Rumpus, has served on the board of the National Book Critics Circle, was editor of Poetry Northwest from 2005-2010, is a frequent political contributor to Politico, has contributed to the New York Times Book Review, Poetry, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Sewanee Review, Poetry International, Zyzzyva, and elsewhere, and has lectured at many colleges and universities, including Stanford University, University of Maryland, Wake Forest University, and Oregon State University, where he has taught creative writing and literature since 1999.  Recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, he is the president of the Attic Institute in Portland.