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. 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 formal demands that arise in your poems. Every time I teach a graduate course, the students begin wanting to focus on content. So fine, we focus on content. By the end, they're dying to know more about form. They come to realize that focusing on form strengthens their capacities to reinvent their imaginative representations of experience."

David Biespiel is the author of four books of poetry: Wild Civility, Pilgrims & Beggars, and Shattering Air. His most recent book of poems, The Book of Men and Women, was named among the Best Poetry of the year by the Poetry Foundation. His anthology, Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets, received the William Stafford Memorial Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. And his little book on creativity, Every Writer Has a Thousand Faces, based on his 2009 lecture at RWW, has sold out several editions.

His regular column on poetry in The Oregonian is the longest-running newspaper column about poetry in the United States. Biespiel's honors are a Wallace Stegner Fellowship in poetry at Stanford University, a Lannan Fellowship, and a National Endowment Arts Fellowship in literature. In addition to being the founding director and writer-in-residence of the Attic Institute in Portland, Ore., he has long been an adjunct at Oregon State University and serves as Visiting Writer at Wake Forest University during the fall terms. In 2010, he stepped down as the editor of Poetry Northwest, a magazine that revived the discussion of poetry and other arts, but he remains active as a contributor to POLITICO.