Back to Faculty

Trevor Carolan

Trevor Carolan, PhD

Associate Professor


Abbotsford campus, D2001

Phone: 604-504-7441 ext. 4198

email Trevor


Trevor Carolan began writing at 17 for The Columbian newspaper in New Westminster, filing dispatches from San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury countercultural scene. He travelled Britain, Europe and India before mastering in English at Humboldt State in Arcata, California in 1978. A literary journalist, poet, critic, anthologist and film-maker, his teaching and writing career has been punctuated with service as the first Executive Director of the Federation of B.C. Writers, as Literary Coordinator for the XV Olympic Winter Games in Calgary, and as Coordinator of Literary Arts at the Banff Arts Centre.

A veteran community activist, he was elected Municipal Councillor in North Vancouver for three years following campaigns on behalf of Pacific Coast watershed, First Nations land-claim and international human rights issues. He also wrote as a political columnist for many years. Carolan earned an interdisciplinary Ph.D. at Bond University, Queensland, and has taught English and Creative Writing at University of the Fraser Valley since 2001.

The International Editor of the Pacific Rim Review of Books, Dr. Carolan’s publications have appeared in five languages and include many books of poetry, fiction, memoir, translations, anthologies, writing on ecology, East-West literary and spiritual life, and a broad range of nonfiction articles and interviews. His eco-documentary film Powerground premiered in Brussels in 2015. In 2013 his collection Cascadia: The Life and Breath of the World, which he guest edited for Manoa at the University of Hawai’i received a Best American Essays of 2013 Citation.  In 2003 he received the Spirituality & Health Journal Best Books of the Year citation for his Return to Stillness: Twenty Years With a Tai Chi Master (NY: Marlowe), an account of his 20 years as a student with Master Ng Ching-Por in Vancouver.

His current works are New World Dharma: Interviews and Encounters with Buddhist Teachers, Writers and Leaders (SUNY, 2016), and an acclaimed work of BC literary history The Literary Storefront: The Glory Years (Mother Tongue). His other books include The Lotus Singers: Short Stories from Contemporary South Asia, and a companion volume Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories from the New Asia-Pacific (2011 & 2009). The Pillow Book of Dr. Jazz; Giving Up Poetry: With Allen Ginsberg At Hollyhock; and Making Waves: Reading B.C. and Pacific Northwest Literature.


PhD (Bond, Qld.), M.A. (Humboldt State, CA)

Teaching Philosophy

As an instructor of English and Creative Writing I emphasize the development of strong student compositional skills in grammar and rhetoric, as well as critical reading ability in the interpretation and analysis of texts.  With a background in professional book and journal editing, I bring established skills in remedial assessment of student writing and explain at the beginning of each term that we’ll work toward ensuring a steady diminishment of errors during the flow of written assignments for the course.  I note to each new group of students that good instructors are effective facilitators, not know-it-alls, and how during our work together I hope to help them learn more about themselves and their own individual capacity to learn.   As an editor, I’m also regularly seeking talented student writers to contribute to both journals and anthologies that I’m engaged in bringing to publication.  This affords me the opportunity of helping vocationally launch the work of students who are committed to careers in writing, publishing and on-line media applications.  Scholastically, I encourage close reading of study texts and research materials as a core competency, and invite students wherever possible to consider concrete applications of their work projects in terms of meaningfully engaged citizenship and community building.

Teaching Interests

Eco-Lit; Literary Journalism; Creative Non-fiction; Pacific Coast/Cascadia Literature; Beat Lit.; Studies in Consciousness in Literature;  Literatures of the Pacific World, East and South Asia; Buddhist-Taoist Studies.

Research Interests

Eco-Lit, Beat Lit, Buddhist-Taoist Studies, Studies in Consciousness in Literature, Pacific Rim Literatures and Literatures of East and South Asia.



Launch Screening Presentation of Powerground: The Life and Breath of the World, 30 min. eco-documentary film. Produced-directed by T. Carolan. At 4th Annual Meeting of the European Beat Studies Network. Université Libre de Bruxelles. Oct. 30, 2015.

Opening Session Presentation, “Asian Wisdom Traditions, Ecological Poetics and Allen Ginsberg.” 4th Annual Meeting of the European Beat Studies Network. Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. Oct. 28, 2015.

Presenter, “On GeoActivism”. With Eric de Place, Sightlines Institute. Cascadia Poetry Festival. Seattle University, May 4, 2014.

Moderator, “Reading Cascadia: The Life and Breath of the World”. Assn. of Writing Programs Conference. Seattle. March 1, 2014

Presenter, “Reconciliation & Indigenization - Antidotes to the Wounds of History”. UFV Residential School Day of Learning and Reconciliation. Sept. 18, 2013.

Presenter, “The Ecological Poetics of Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder.” Canada-India Scholarly Exchange. University of Mumbai, Kalina, India. Nov. 2012.

Conference Keynote Presentation, “Poets and Writers of the Emerging Cascadia-Pacific Region”. Cascadia Poetry Conference, Seattle, Washington. March 24, 2012.

Presenter, “Ecosystems, Mandalas and Watersheds: The Dharma Citizenship of Gary Snyder”. At Tools of the Sacred, Techniques of the Secular: Awakening, Epiphany and Doubt in Contemporary English Language Poetry. Université Libre de Bruxelles, Belgium. May 4-7, 2010.

Presenter, “Rethinking Creative Non-fiction”. Seminar presentation, Canadian Authors Assn. National Conference, Victoria, B.C. June 26, 2010. Interactive Media Presentation: “A New Way of Seeing: Fresh Approaches to Teaching About Asian Literatures”. Live-streamed script and powerpoint on-line seminar for international college & university educators. Using my new survey text anthology Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories from the New Asia-Pacific. Conference panel leader. Coordinators, Lisa Kimball and Ginevra Morse, Cheng & Tsui, Boston. March 11, 2009.

Moderator, “Beat Lit and the Pacific Rim”, with David Meltzer and Michael Rothenberg. Pacific Festival of the Book. Victoria, B.C. May 10, 2009.

Moderator: “The Cracked Mirror—Reflecting Social and Political Realities Through Fiction.” Vancouver International Writers Festival. With David Davidar, Jakob Arjouni, Edeet Ravel, Ian Holding. Vancouver, Oct. 20, 2007.

Moderator, “Politics and the Page.” Banff-Calgary Writers Festival. With Anita Rau Badami, Rewi Hage, Yusef Saadi. The Banff Centre, Alberta. Oct. 2006.

Doctoral Research Presentation: “Reconceptualizing Ideas of Citizenship, Community and Commonwealth: Some East-West Intercultural Models for the Global Age.” Dept. of International Relations, Bond University, Queensland, Australia. April 28, 2005.

Conference Presenter: “Writers, Translators and Editors as Cultural Representatives.” Assn. Of Writers & Writing Programs AGM. Vancouver. April 1, 2005.

Presenter: “Translators of Literature: The Natural Advantage.” Creative Writing Master’s Series. With Robert Bringhurst and Genni Gunn. University of British Columbia, Centre for Cross-Faculty Inquiry and journal Educational Insights. Nov. 17, 2004.

Presenter: “Tongue Tied: Issues in the Theory and Practice of Translation.” With Monique Proulx, David Homel and Christophe Claro. Vancouver International Writers Festival, Oct., 2003.

Panel Respondent: “Chae In-Ho and O Chong-hui: Some Observations on Recent Korean Literature.” Asian Studies Colloquium, Dept. of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia, Nov. 2000.

Research Presentation: “The Idea of Sacred Space in East Asian Cultures.” Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden, Vancouver, Summer, 1995.



New World Dharma: Encounters and Interviews with Buddhst Writers, Teachers and Leaders. Albany: NY. SUNY Press, 2016.

The Literary Storefront: an Official History. Ganges: Saltspring Island. Mother Tongue Press. 2015

Cascadia: The Life and Breath of the World. Manoa. Ed. with Frank Stewart. Honolulu: Univ. Hawaii Press. 2013

The Lotus Singers: Contemporary Stories from South Asia. Ed. Boston: Cheng & Tsui, 2011

Along the Rim: the Best of Pacific Rim Review of Books, Vol. II. Ed. with R. Olafson. Victoria: Ekstasis, 2011

Making Waves: Reading B.C. and Pacific Northwest Literature. Ed. Vancouver: Anvil-UFV Press. 2010

Another Kind of Paradise: Short Stories from the New Asia-Pacific. Ed. Boston: Cheng & Tsui, 2009

Against the Shore: the Best of Pacific Rim Review of Books. Ed. with Richard Olafson, Victoria: Ekstasis, 2008.

The Pillow Book of Dr Jazz. Ekstasis, 2006; London: Anchor, 1999

Down in the Valley: Contemporary Writing of the Fraser Valley. Ekstasis, 2004

Return To Stillness: Twenty Years With a Tai Chi Master. Marlowe, NY: 2003

Celtic Highway: Poems & Texts. Ekstasis Press, 2002

Giving Up Poetry: With Allen Ginsberg At Hollyhock. Banff Centre Press, 2001

The Supreme Way: Inner Teachings of the Southern Mountain Tao. (co-Trans. with Du Liang). Berkeley: North Atlantic, l997

Big Whiskers Saves The Cove. Concorde, Vancouver, l995 (childrens)

The Colours of Heaven: Short Stories From The Pacific Rim. Ed. New York: Vintage, 1992. Foreign editions, 1996

The Book of the Heart: Embracing the Tao (trans. with Bella Chen). Boston: Shambhala Pub. 1990; foreign language editions, 1994. Canadian ed., Vancouver: Heron Press, l988

Polestar International Writers Daybook Anthologies, 1990 & 1991. Ed. Vancouver: Polestar Press

Closing The Circle. Vancouver: Heron Press, 1985

Selected Criticism, Essays & Interviews:

“The Kyoto Journal Interview with Gary Snyder at Sakura Time”. Kyoto Journal, July 2016.

Editor’s Introductory essay, Cascadia: The Life and Breath of the World. Manoa/University of Hawaii Press. 2013.

“Dancing with China’s Ancient Masters: an Interview with Red Pine/Bill Porter.” in New World Dharma: Encounters with Remarkable Teachers. SUNY Press, Albany: NY, 2016.

Feature review: “Runaway Dreams”. Richard Wagamese. Ronsdale, 2011. Pacific Rim Review of Books. Victoria, BC (No. 18. Summer 2012).

“Spring Winds: the Birthing of New Japanese Women’s Poetry.” Feature review essay, Other Side River (Stone Bridge), eds. Leza Lowitz & Miyuke Aoyama; and A Long Rainy Season, eds. Lowitz, Aoyam and Akemi Tomoika (SB ), Pacific Rim Review of Books, #15, Vol. 7, No. 1, 2011.

“Ecosystems, Mandalas and Watersheds: The Dharma Citizenship of Gary Snyder”, critical essay in MAKING WAVES (UFV Press-Anvil Press, 2010).

“Finding Freedom in Writing: A Profile and Brief Talk with Nobel Prize Winner Gao Xingjian. “ The BloomsburyReview. Vol 30:2, Summer 2010. pp 78.

“Vancouver Literary Landmarks” and “This Beloved City”. Essays. Vancouver: Subterrain Magazine, March, 2010

“Dorothy Livesay and North Vancouver”. Essay. The Capilano Review, June 2009.

“Wrestling With Myth”. Kyoto Journal, #72. Essay. Kyoto, Japan: Summer, 2009.

“Joanne Kyger; A Bloomsday Interview in New York City”. Feature interview. Coventry, U.K: Transit. No. 20; Autumn, 2008. pp. 2-15.

“Crisis Darfur”. Feature critical report. Vancouver: The Georgia Straight. Vol. 43. No. 2120, Aug. 7, 2008. pp 35-36.

“Working the Seiners in Barkley Sound,” creative non-fiction in *Imagining British Columbia: Land, Memory & Place. Daniel Francis, ed. Vancouver: Anvil Press, 2008. pp. 41-52.

Everywhere Being Is Dancing & The Tree of Meaning. Robert Bringhurst. Gaspereau Press. Pacific Rim Review of Books. Spring, 2008.

“And So Make Peace…”: An Interview with Maxine Hong Kingston.” Cover feature. The Bloomsbury Review, Jan./Feb, 2008.

“Back On The Fire: An Interview with Gary Snyder”. Cover feature. The Bloomsbury Review, July-Aug., 2007.

“What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been”: 25 Years of the Federation of B.C. Writers.” Essay. Wordworks. July, 2007.

“In Formless Circumstance: On Leonard Cohen”. Feature Review. Book of Longing. Pacific Rim Review of Books, Spring, 2007.

“Native American in the Land of the Shogun”, by Frederick Schodt. Stone Bridge. Kyoto Journal. June, 2006.

“Gary Snyder’s Wild Medicine”. Feature review, Danger On Peaks. Transit. U.K. Summer, 2005: pp. 25-29.

“Messing With Mother Nature: An Interview With Dr. David Suzuki”, cover feature. Shared Vision, April 2003; New Times, Seattle, May, 2003.

Interview: “On Compassion and Forgiveness: H.H. the Dalai Lama, Verbatim”. Cover feature. The Bloomsbury Review, Sept., 2001.

“Expatriate Passions”: A Conversation with Donald Richie”. Cover feature, The Bloomsbury Review, Mar-Apr. 2001.

“Embracing the Responsibility of the Moment: An Interview with Jerry Brown”. Cover feature. Shambhala Sun, Sept. 2000.

Feature length rev. The Hundred Thousand Songs of Milarepa, trans. Garma Chang. Shambhala. Manoa, Winter 2000.

Feature rev. “An Affinity for the Sacred”: Stormy Weather, A Biography of Frederick H.Varley, Maria Tippet, M & S. ArtsAlive, Jan. 1999.

“Notes from the Gone World: Lawrence Ferlinghetti On Street Smarts & The Poetry Rebellion”. Common Ground, December 1995; Tokyo: Printed Matter, Vol. XX, No.1.

“Dangerous Work: the Retirement Interview, with Robert Aitken, Roshi”. Shambhala Sun, Jan. 1996.

“Wild Medicine: The Masterwork of Gary Snyder”, cover feature profile & interview. Shambhala Sun, April 1996.

Essay: “John, Yoko and the Great Western Cultural Revolution.” Kyoto Journal, No. 31, Spring 1996.

“The Mindfulness Bell”; feature profile essay, Thich Nhat Hanh. Shambhala Sun, Jan. 1996.

Feature length critical essay: “The Arrival of Modern Fiction from China”: The Three Inch Golden Lotus, Feng Jicai; The Remote Country of Women, Bai Hua; Chaos And All That, Liu Sola. Modern Chinese Literature, Winter 1994, Vol. 8, No. 3.

“John Lennon: In Memoriam”. Common Ground, Dec. 1984.

Echoes After The Storm: Catalogue Foreword, Tienanmen Memorial Art Exhibition.” Translation. Vancouver-Hong Kong-New York. Asian Studies Gallery, UBC. 1990.

Rev. The Redesigned Forest, Chris Maser. Common Ground, Spring 1990.

“Private Conscience and State Security”, Report, prepared for PEN International Congress Final Report on Proceedings. Toronto. Sept. 26, 1989.


The Music of the Stones, with composer Mark Armanini & Vancouver Classical Chinese Ensemble. Vancouver Arts Council commission, Jan. 1992. CD production, 2000.

* The Healing Place, Invitational short opera, libretto-text, music by M. Armanini, The Vancouver Opera; performance, Vancouver Civic Art Gallery, Summer/92. CD archival recording, “Imagistic Music”, Dec. 2000.

Public Commissions:

Vancouver Public Library Literary Landmarks: Excerpt from The Literary Storefront selected for inclusion on public plaque honouring Mona Fertig and the Literary Storefront, 131 Water Street, Gastown, Vancouver. August 2016.

Invited to select excerpt of poetry by Dorothy Livesay from The Unquiet Bed for new Civic Library Memorial Plaza Marker Stone. City of North Vancouver. Unveiling, Nov. 29, 2009

Invited to compose wording of Malcolm Lowry Memorial Heritage Marker, Cates Park, North Vancouver, 2005.

Commissioned to write wording of The Varley Trail Memorial at Rice Lake, honouring Group of Seven artist Frederick Varley, North Vancouver, Sept. 1998.

With sculptor Chung Hung, invited to co-translate wording of The Goddess of Democracy Memorial, Student Union Building, UBC, Vancouver, honouring victims of the Tiananmen Massacre, Beijing. 1989.

What the Critics Say:

The Literary Storefront: The Glory Years: Vancouver’s Literary Centre 1978-1985

Few bookstores figure prominently in modern literary history. Shakespeare and Company in Paris, once frequented by Joyce, Stein, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway, and City Lights in San Francisco, made famous by Ginsberg and Kerouac, are shrines for bookish pilgrims. But Vancouver’s Literary Storefront, established in imitation of such venerable stores, was in its heyday relatively obscure, and unlike Munro’s Books of Victoria, which shares in the glory reflected by Alice Munro’s Nobel Prize, today it exists only in memory. In The Literary Storefront Trevor Carolan recounts the short history of what he terms “Vancouver’s first grassroots literary centre” (12), its “bohemian consular centre” (13), and “a society of friends” (13): the Storefront was significant not for commercial reasons but as a venue for literary performance, administration, and carousal. Founded by the young poet Mona Fertig, it operated from 1978 until 1985, and was first located at 131 Water Street in Gastown. As the book’s numerous photographs show, Vancouver before Expo 86 was a different world, a smaller and less cosmopolitan city than it is now. In her foreword, Jean Barman observes that in Vancouver during the early twentieth century, “To be ‘literary’ was to head elsewhere or, for the select few, almost wholly men, who were admitted into its ranks, to acquiesce to the closed world of the University of British Columbia” (8). A perceived division between UBC and “Downtown” persisted for decades. As an undistinguished author in Vancouver, Al Purdy found the campus at Point Grey culturally and geographically remote; he imagined Earle Birney, poet and professor of English, to be sequestered in academe, as if Acadia Camp might be mistaken for the Bodleian.

An essentially anecdotal work, The Literary Storefront draws on writers’ correspondence and interviews conducted by Carolan, who notes that his “book of oral history and archival research” (11) is intended to “serve as a necessary archival document for students of BC’s literary history” (12). The volume is impressively detailed: Carolan, it seems, mentions every writer to have passed through Vancouver in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Many of their names will be familiar to specialists in Canadian literature, yet most of them have never graced the pages of The New Yorker. Margaret Atwood, Margaret Laurence, and Michael Ondaatje appear, but Carolan focuses on unsung characters, Fertig foremost among them. The Literary Storefront thus suggests not only the diversity of Canadian literature but also the inherent difficulty of narrating the past comprehensively. At times Carolan is distinctly sanguine, describing the Storefront’s milieu for instance as a kind of Canadian North Beach: “Working-class, shake and shimmy, down at heel, creative and cheap, the Gastown-Downtown Eastside district was a natural magnet for the young and artistic with a dream, and for outsiders of every social hue” (18). And on occasion authors are portrayed in somewhat simple terms. Birney, who in 1978 gave one of the first readings at the Storefront, is “the dean of Canadian poetry” (56), Purdy is “a huge colloquial worker poet with a voice to wake the dead” (93), Robin Skelton is a “celebrated poet-witch” (75). But Carolan’s enthusiasm propels the narrative. A champion of the local literary sphere, he has produced with The Literary Storefront, as he did with Making Waves: Reading B.C. and Pacific Northwest Literature (2010), an important addition to the record of the province’s literary culture. A certain wistfulness accompanies his verve; it is hard to leaf through The Literary Storefront without nostalgia for a time before Amazon. Carolan demonstrates that one version of the writing life has disappeared, and his book is all the more valuable for its evocation of another time and another city.

- Nicholas Bradley, B.C. Studies.  no. 188 Winter 2016

The Lotus Singers

“Let me do some numbers for you. The Lotus Singers gives us nearly 20 contemporary pieces of short fiction from a number South Asian nations mainly India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh; stories either written in English or translated by various hands from the Urdu, Bengali, Hindi, Gujarati, Bangla and Marathi...Their subjects are pressing: hunger, rape, feudal oppression, struggle among castes and social classes, the struggle of women to achieve a modicum of equality, civil war; overbearing matters, yes. But there's some incidental joy here, too, And there's the bliss that comes with understanding...No tour like a serious anthology such as this one to show you how a distant part of the world seems so foreign and yet so close to home."-Alan Cheuse, All Things Considered, National Public Radio, Washington

Making Waves: Reading Literature from British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest

“As the planet goes through unprecedented climate chaos brought on by rampant materialism, the Newtonian-Cartesian ethos of reductionism, and the abandonment of the sacred, it will be the ethos represented well in many essays of Making Waves that survives. In the editor’s parlance, it is a “Dharma Citizenship” that must take root...Making Waves is a primer into the quickly maturing regional literature that can lead a new global culture deeply into this Third Millennium.” - Paul Nelson, Pacific Rim Review of Books

Giving Up Poetry: with Allen Ginsberg at Hollyhock

“Carolan’s compressed account brings the grandfather of Beat poetry and poetics vividly back to life in a portrait that is at once intimate and instructive. Writing not as a recording secretary but as one bent on capturing the essence of Ginsberg’s wide-ranging, deeply informed and illuminating discourse, he humanizes him as Plato did Socrates in The Symposium.” - John Moore,The Vancouver Sun

The Colors of Heaven/Rim of Fire

"Suggests the East will remain inscrutable only if we choose not to know it." - Cleveland Plain Dealer

"The stories have been scrupulously chosen...While none are directly about politics, all are about political facts which shape local lives."- Donald Richie, The Japan Times

"An enormously impressive and important book...Has its sights set on tyranny of any hue." - South China Morning Post

"Vintage should expand this interesting anthology into an annual series." - Charles Solomon, Los Angeles Times

"An introduction to Asian-Pacific literature at its very best...fascinating, breathtaking reading." - Ryszard Kapuscinski

"An extraordinary collection of marvels. Enough to satisfy the most inquisitive and best-travelled reader." - Alberto Manguel

The Book of the Heart

“Destined to be a modern classic of Taoism. This lucid and subtle translation can be read again and again: for guidance, for simple, direct contemplation.” - Diane di Prima

Closing the Circle

“Clean, clear poems out of the New World -- Asia and western North America -- they embrace large space and fine detail." - Gary Snyder

"The Calgary Suite" (Celtic Highway)

“A Canadian breakthrough rare in the beauty of its presentation of contemporary images and scenes of life on the west coast." - Patricia Osoko,Victoria Times

Back to Faculty

Twitter Facebook Linkedin Flikr UFV on Google+ YouTube goUFV