LITERARY LOCATION: 2515 Burrard, the Alm Building.

Named after the man who built the building--whose surname was Alm--the Alm Building was home to The Caitlin Press after it was founded by Carolyn Zonailo, a poet and editor born in Vancouver in 1947. The Caitlin Press began producing chapbooks in 1977 as the first literary press both owned and managed by women. Founded by Carolyn Zonailo in Vancouver with Cathy Ford of Mayne Island and Ingrid Klassen as editors. Its namesake is Caitlin Thomas, wife of Dylan Thomas. [November House, managed by Cherie Smith, predated Caitlin Press in Vancouver but its ownership was shared between Cherie Smith and her husband, Buddy Smith, a bookseller.] In 1991, Carolyn Zonailo sold The Caitlin Press to new owners in Prince George.

ENTRY: Carolyn Zonailo was born and raised in Vancouver and received a Masters in literature from Simon Fraser University. In 1977, she founded Caitlin Press, publishing poetry books and chapbooks. Zonailo became the sole managing editor in the 1980s, during which time she published poetry and short stories by both B.C. writers and writers from across Canada. The company was sold to Cynthia Wilson of Prince George, B.C., in 1991. The Caitlin Press then operated for its second fourteen years as an important small press publisher for northern B.C. writers.

After the death of Cynthia Wilson, who was the sister of Harbour Publishing's founder Howard White, Caitlin Press was relocated to Pender Harbour. Its titles appeared in the Harbour Publishing catalogue until Harbour employee Vici Johnstone took over independent ownership and moved the press to Halfmoon Bay. In 2015, Vici Johnstone and Caitlin Press received the Jim Douglas Award for outstanding B.C. publishing, maintaining a non-exclusive emphasis on books for, by and about women.

From 1991 to 1998, Carolyn Zonailo participated as co-founder and co-manager of The Poem Factory/Usines de Poemes with writer and graphic artist Ed Varney. Together they produced poetry broadsides, poetry pamphlets, and poetry chapbooks, as well as two poetry anthologies.

In 1992, Carolyn Zonailo moved to Montreal, Quebec, where she married poet Stephen Morrissey. In Montreal, Zonailo remains active as a member of TWUC, The League of Canadian Poets, and the Quebec Writers' Federation. Two of her most recent poetry titles have been published by Richard Olafson's Ekstasis Editions of Victoria, B.C. She has maintained her ties to British Columbia where she still spends part of the year.

Carolyn Zonailo was also one of the original five founders of The Federation of BC Writers; and she served on the founding committee of the B.C. Book Prizes. Zonailo frequently served on national and provincial executives for literary organizations, in addition to her own writing and her work as an editor. Her collection, The Goddess in the Garden, was a finalist for the A.M. Klein Poetry Prize in 2003.

In 2000, Carolyn Zonailo and Stephen Morrissey co-founded Coracle Press, publishing online chapbooks, She also co-founded the annual reading series "Lovers & Others" in Montreal. She has given numerous readings throughout Quebec and across the country. She also served for several years on the board of directors for QSPELL, from which the Quebec Writers' Federation was created.

Zonailo is of Doukhobor heritage. Her father was born in Castlegar, BC. Her paternal grandmother and great grandmother and their families were part of the 1899 immigration of the Doukhobors en masse to western Canada. The author of eleven books of poetry and several poetry chapbooks, Zonailo's literary papers are housed at Simon Fraser University library's Rare Books and Special Collections.

Reflecting on the origins of Caitlin Press, she writes, in 2013, "I would like to clarify a misconception... I founded Caitlin Press in 1977 in Vancouver. It was not founded on, or located on, Gabriola Island. From 1977 to 1991 I ran Caitlin Press; during some of this time Cathy Ford and Ingrid Klassen helped with the press. In 1983 both Cathy and Ingrid dropped out and I managed the press by myself until I sold it, in 1991. It was bought by Cynthia Wilson (Howie White's sister) and her partner Ken Carling. Cynthia and Ken moved the press to Prince George where Caitlin Press became an
important publishing house for northern BC writers. Unfortunately, Ken died a few years into the running of the press and Cynthia died fifteen years after relocating Caitlin Press to Prince George. For two or three years Caitlin Press was in limbo and Howie White brought the press to Pender Harbour where he operates Harbour Publishing. Vici Johnstone, who worked for Howie, then bought Caitlin Press. She ran the press in Halfmoon Bay before moving to Nanaimo.

"I see the history of Caitlin Press as divided into three phases. The first phase is when I founded Caitlin Press in Vancouver in 1977 until I sold it in 1991; I ran the press as a literary press, mostly interested in publishing poetry but not exclusively poetry. The second phase was when Cynthia and Ken relocated Caitlin Press to Prince George where it became an important publishing outlet for writers in Northern British Columbia. The third phase is where Vici Johnstone is running Caitlin Press from Halfmoon Bay and later Nanaimo, publishing, as far as I can tell, a combination of literature and poetry by women and diverse writers of Northern BC."


Fight Fire With Spirit: Selected & New Poems, Ekstasis, 2012
the moon with mars in her arms, Ekstasis Editions, 2006
The Holy Hours, Morgaine House, 2004
The Goddess in the Garden, Ekstasis Editions, 2002
Winter, Morgaine House, 1998
Wading the Trout River (Empyreal, 1997)
Memory House (Empyreal, 1995)
Nature's Grace (Empyreal, 1993)
The Taste of Giving: New & Selected Poems (Caitlin, 1990)
Zen Forest (Caitlin, 1987)
Compendium (Heron, 1985)
A Portrait of Paradise (blewointment, 1983)
The Wide Arable Land (Caitlin Press, 1981)
Inside Passage (Caitlin, 1977)

[BCBW 2015] "Poetry" "Publishing" "Doukhobors"