Calyx still a beacon for women of the arts

Calyx still a beacon for women of the arts

Local press marks 35th anniversary with dinner event

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CORVALLIS — A dinner celebration at Cloud 9 on Thursday, March 10, will commemorate 35 years in business for Calyx Journal.

That’s precisely seven times longer than Margarita Donnelly and three other Calyx co-founders envisioned their little Corvallis operation would need to leave its mark.

“We were so naïve,” Donnelly says now, laughing. “We thought we’d be around for five years, and that’s all it would take for us to change the world.”

Although the revolution never reached the level its founders imagined, Calyx maintains its position as a key player in the realm of small presses for under-represented female authors and artists. In January, it published its Winter 2011 issue of “Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women,” an expanded issue of 144 pages with more work from a larger pool of authors.

The latest Calyx release has been a hit among readers — too big of a hit, actually.

“Unfortunately, we’re about to sell out of our press run. We underprinted,” Donnelly said. “It’s very reassuring, though, that it was more wanted than we were expecting.”

Calyx has published 76 issues and 44 books since March 1976, and it’s 35-year run as a place to help women launch their careers — acclaimed authors Barbara Kingsolver and Chitra Divakaruni among them — is a point of pride for Donnelly. But the small press still faces a daunting challenge.

“It’s hard for us to make an impact in the current publishing world,” said Donnelly, who noted that Calyx reported a financial deficit in 2010 after years of operating in the black. “Only 25 percent of small presses are publishing women’s work, but we’re still here and we still play an important role for women authors and artists.”

The celebration dinner begins at 6 p.m. at Cloud 9. Among other festivities, the Jubilate! women’s outreach choir will perform, and staff members will read from some of their favorite published works of the past.

Cloud 9 will donate 15 percent of the proceeds from the dinner to Calyx, which operates as a nonprofit and receives equal funding from donations, sales revenue and grants.

For information about the dinner, call 541-753-9384.

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