Peace Corps Writers — July 2004
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    And the winners are . . .

    We are pleased to announce the 2004 Award Winners from Peace Corps Writers.

    Paul Cowan Non-Fiction Award
    Nine Hills to Nambonkaha: Two Years in the Heart of an African Village

    by Sarah Erdman (Cote D’Ivoire 1998–00)

    Maria Thomas Fiction Award
    Know It by Heart
    by Karl Luntta (Botswana 1977–80)

    Award for Best Poetry Book
    Gilbert & Garbo In Love: A Romance in Poems
    by Christopher Conlon (Botswana 1988–90)

    Award for Best Travel Writing
    Chasing the Sea: Lost Among the Ghosts of Empire in Central Asia
    by Tom Bissell (Uzbekistan 1996)

    Award for Best Children’s Writing
    Imagine a House: A Journey to Fascinating Houses around the World
    by Angela Gustafson (Dominican Republic1994–96)

    Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award
    “Peace Corps Was” by Peg Clement (Tunisia 1975–77)

         Winners receive a special citation and cash awards from Peace Corps Writers, an Associate Member of the National Peace Corps Association. These awards will be announced and presented at the NPCA Conference in Chicago this August. Our congratulations to all the winners and all the RPCVs who published books in 2004.

    How to write a Peace Corps book, back from recess
    The second on-line class on how to write a Peace Corps book — fiction or non-fiction — will start on August 30 and continue through to November 22. The course, which will have 10 lessons, costs $300 and is limited to 8 students.
         Our desire is to provide a writing course with the opportunity to share and learn from fellow students to RPCV and PCV writers who are seriously interested in writing a book about their Peace Corps experience, but can not get together in a classroom because of geographic, physical, or scheduling restrictions .
         The course is structured around writing assignments, regular feedback through a discussion board, emails, and a chat room. Weekly the instructor will post lecture material and an assignment on the discussion board. The class will read the lecture, and later will post their assignments. Students and the instructor will then comment on the writing as it is posted. A separate individual chat will take place each week with the instructor to discuss individual writings.
         A weekly live chat room is also part of the class where there will be general conversation about writing, and turning the Peace Corps experience into publishable prose, as well as how to find an agent and submit a manuscript for publication.
         If you are interested, please email Marian Beil at

    Peace Corp writers will be at the Miami Book Fair
    This coming fall, for the first time, the Miami Book Fair organizers have invited a special Panel of Peace Corps Authors to read their work and discuss writing and the Peace Corps experience.
         The Miami Book Fair International is the largest and finest book fair in America. Half a million people attend the fair, scheduled this year for November 7 – 14.
         RPCV writers will have an opportunity to sign their books and be in the spotlight on CSPAN.
         This event will give hundreds of fair-goers an opportunity to hear about Peace Corps, to gain insights into life in developing countries from the intimate perspective of Peace Corps Volunteers, and to buy Peace Corps books.
         For further details, please see, or email Leita Kaldi (Senegal 1993-96):

      Note: RPCV writers with books being published in the fall should alert their publishers of this opportunity to highlight their books.

    In this issue —

    A Writer Writes
    This issue has two wonderful essays. Adrienne Benson Scherger (Nepal 1992–94) writes about growing up as a child of PCVs who served during early years of the Peace Corps. In her essay she writes about living in the shadow of Sargent Shriver and about her own Peace Corps experience, sans Shriver. Her essay is entitled: “Renewable Resources: Growing Up With ‘Sarge’ Shriver’s Biggest Fans.”
         A former PCV in Russia, Heather Carroll (Russia 2000–01) writes about the pressing problem of “No Shortage of Toilet Paper Here” and tells us another side of the Peace Corps experience.
    As an aside, Heather was one of the first 9 RPCVs to take the on-line Peace Corps writing class we offered that finished in the spring. This essay came out of that writing class.

    Andy, we hardly knew you!
    RPCV Andy Trincia (Romania 2002–04) who has emailed us wonderful pieces for the last two years has completed his PCV tour in Romania and emailed us his last essay, “What Planet Are You From.” Thank you, Andy, for all your wonderful prose.

    Note: Andy will make his first post-Peace Corps appearance at the NPCA Conference in Chicago where he will read from his published essays and be a panelist for the Careers in the Media Workshop. Talk about culture shock!

    In the footsteps of Mark Twain
    Last issue we published Bonnie Lee Black’s (Gabon 1996–98) engaging essay on “how not to write a Peace Corps book,” and this issue we have another point-of-view: “In the Footsteps of Mark Twain” by writer/publisher Craig Carrozzi (Colombia 1978–80) who has successfully self-published five books and takes a different stance on writing and publishing.

    War before, war during, war after, war again!
    Thus begins another installment of our essays about PCVs who also served in the U.S. Army. Ronald Wheatley (Nigeria 1963–64) experienced war in Nigeria and Vietnam. His piece is entitled, “Elusive Dreams” and he is still haunted by those years in Africa and Asia.

    Book reviews
    We have five reviews in this issue including our review of American Taboo: A Murder in the Peace Corps by Philip Weiss, a book you probably have heard about, and perhaps read by now. By odd circumstances I happened to be the first “official” Peace Corps person to whom Philip spoke when he began this book and, like some of you, I knew the story out of Tonga. When I received an advance copy of it for review, I debated about reviewing it myself, but instead asked a writer I knew would bring his own vast experiences in the Pacific, as well as, his writing skills to the task. P.F. Kluge (Micronesia 1967–69). Writer in Residence at Kenyon College and contributing editor at National Geographic Travels, Kluge is the author of five novels, and two non-fiction books, one of which, The Edge of Paradise: America in Micronesia, touches on his Peace Corps experience.

    And finally…
    James Kaufman, a researcher at California State University in San Bernardino, has studied 2,000 dead writers who lived in various countries during different centuries to support “The Sylvia Plath Effect.” He found that, on average, poets lived 62 years, 4 years fewer than novelists. He has yet to study Peace Corps writers — poets or novelists.

    See you, I hope, in Chicago.

    Now to the reading . . .

    — John Coyne