Peace Corps Writers
May 2004

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In This Issue has links to the new articles in this issue of Peace Corps Writers.

Resources has the Bibliography of Peace Corps Writers and other resources for both readers and writers.

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Come to the Chicago RPCV conference
The RPCV conference in Chicago is not too far off — August 5 to 8. To register, get a hotel, check out the schedule and see who else will be coming, go to the National Peace Corps association website page “About the Conference.” We hope you are planning to attend.
     As previously announced, Peace Corps Writers will present four workshops. The topics and times are as follows:

  • Careers in Publishing — Friday, 1:00 to 2:00 pm
  • Peace Corps Prose: Literature from the Peace Corps — Friday, 2:30 to 3:30 pm
  • Self-publishing on the Web — Saturday, 11:30 am to 12:30 pm
  • Publishing your Peace Corps Story (fiction or non-fiction) — Saturday, 9:00 to 10 am

     Writers interested in being on a panel should contact me at: jpcoyne@peacecorpswriters.org. You MUST be registered for the conference to be on a panel.
     The Book Stall — an independent book seller in Winnetka — will have a booth at the MarketPlace to sell books by Peace Corps writers and other books of interest to RPCVs that have been published by large publishing houses.
     Peace Corps Writers will have a booth for those writers who have self-published and wish to come and sell their own books. Contact Marian Haley Beil at: mhbeil@peacecorpswriters.org to make arrangements.
     Published writers in attendance will be signing their books at both of these booths.

RPCV writers finish the semester
Nine RPCVs took the first online writing course offered by Peace Corps Writers this spring. The class, which focused on writing books about the Peace Corps experience, had participants living across the continental U.S., and as far away as southern France and Hawaii. The ten-week course was completed in early May.
     For information on how the class is conducted check out our course Q & A. We are tentatively planning that the next class (if there is enough interest) will begin in the fall, but we will make a firm announcement in the July issue of Peace Corps Writers about it.

In This Issue
Shriver honored in D.C.
To celebrate the life and work of Sargent Shriver, a panel discussion was held on May 5th in Washington. Laurette Bennhold-Samaan (PC/W 1994–2001) sent us a “Letter from Washington” reporting on the afternoon of honoring the accomplishments of the first director of the Peace Corps.
     Also in this issue is a review by Maureen Carroll (Philippines 1961–63) of the new authorized biography of Shriver.

How not to write a Peace Corps book
Bonnie Lee Black (Gabon 1996–98) served as a health Volunteer in Gabon after having been a writer/editor and food professional in NYC for many years. An honors graduate of Columbia University’s writing program, she is the author of the nonfiction book, Somewhere Child, and now lives in rural northern New Mexico where she teaches essay writing at the University of New Mexico at Taos. Bonnie is also working on her second book and is a free lance editor for RPCV writers seeking help in the editing of their manuscripts. We asked Bonnie for her advice to RPCV writers working on their own Peace Corps story. Her essay, “The Ticking” appears in this issue. Read it before putting pen to paper.

Two Corps, Peace and War: A Memoir
Jim Jackson went to India in 1965 with the Peace Corps and then he came home to work briefly on the Peace Corps Training staff before being drafted into the army and going to Vietnam. This is his memoir of the two experiences, and the second installment of our occasional essays by and about PCVs who also went to Vietnam. In moving prose, Jim delineates his two experiences, from dreaming of food in India, to living on the edge of terror at Long Binh, a U.S. Army base 20 miles from Saigon. Surviving the Peace Corps and Vietnam, Jim is today a lawyer living and working as a law school librarian in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Writers write
We are publishing two amusing short essays by PCVs who served in Latin America. The essays are nice bookends for all of our experiences in the Peace Corps. Finn Honore’ (Colombia 1967–69) lives in Ashland, Oregon where he works as a free lance journalist. His “At First Light” is about his third morning in Cartagena where he wandered into a café looking for breakfast and asked a favor of a woman “might she bring my coffee first?” and then thinks to himself: “A gringo who spoke Spanish and was mannerly. Already I was an ambassador of good will, ordering with ease and deference. I could do this.” Well, maybe not. “Bringing the Peace Corps Back Home” is from Meghan Maguire (Honduras 2001–03). Meghan writes, “Now that I’m back in the U.S., I love smelling like a girl again.” Meghan lived in Danlí, Honduras and worked as a Municipal Development Volunteer, teaching computer and basic writing skills to women, girls, and local government employees. In her essay she remembers what she misses and what she can live without from her Peace Corps tour.

Also —
We have seven reviews of new books by RPCVs, an interview with Maureen Orth about her career and new book The Importance of Being Famous (which is one of our reviewed books). There is also the list of newly published books, and news about what RPCVs are writing and where they are being published in “Literary Type.”
     All of the above might not be “beach reading,” but it is well worth your time to check out the May issue of Peace Corps Writers. And as many waiters and waitresses irritatingly say, “Enjoy!”

— John Coyne
Editor

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