In Memoriam: Margarita Donnelly

By John Mack Freeman

Margarita Donnelly died this week at the age of 72. Donnelly was best known as the founder of Calyx feminist press. From the Coravallis Gazette-Times (click for full obituary):

Born Margarita Patricia Rosa Donnelly y Donnelly in Caracas, Venezuela to American parents, she attended college in the States. She earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from San Francisco State University (finding time along the way to hang out with members of the Grateful Dead and march for farmworkers’ rights with Cesar Chavez), then moved to Corvallis, where she got a master’s in counseling from Oregon State University.

In 1976, with three fellow members of her women’s writing group, Donnelly founded Calyx, a journal featuring women’s prose and poetry along with full-color art and photography. Gradually it built a national reputation as a showcase for emerging women writers, publishing early work by such literary stars-to-be as Molly Gloss, Sharon Olds and Barbara Kingsolver. In 1986, Calyx began publishing books by women authors, some of which have gone into multiple printings or landed major awards.

The nonprofit venture was frequently short of cash, but Donnelly kept it going while working series of day jobs and raising a daughter as a single parent.


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