Peace Corps Writers — July 2002

    First Conference on Peace Corps writers set for September
    On the weekend of September 27–29, Fishtrap, a non-profit educational organization dedicated to “promoting clear thinking and good writing in and about the West.” will host a weekend of Peace Corps writers. (You can read more about Fishtrap in this issue.) While we have held writing workshops at NPCA Conferences, and RPCV writers have done readings, this is the first event that is focused on writers and writings by RPCVs as a literary event.
         RPCVs and friends of the Peace Corps will meet in Enterprise, Oregon for the weekend. Featured RPCV writers are: Peter Chilson (Niger 1985–87), creative writing professor at Washington State University and a Fishtrap writer-in-residence in 2001; yours truly, John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64); Rich Wandschneider (Turkey 1965–67), creator and director of Fishtrap, and Richard Wiley (Korea 1967–69), head of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Nevada. These writers and others will spend the weekend discussing Peace Corps writing and helping writers turn their journals, novels, poetry, and stories into publishable prose.
         This special weekend is open to teachers, librarians, and serious readers — and writers. You need not be a published writer however. The weekend is limited to the first 80 people who sign up.
         The weekend will begin with an overview and discussion of what Peace Corps writers have written and how it has been published. Time will be set aside to gather by genre of interest — fiction, poetry, non-fiction — and by times and places of service. Wiley, Chilson, Wandschneider and others will point out ways to pursue the various avenues of writing: workshops, academic programs, agents, magazines, grants, and publishing opportunities for those who have a story or novel in progress. This will be a weekend of practical advice on getting published as well as a time to share stories of the Peace Corps experience.
         The registration fee is $100 and includes meals. Housing — which is not included — is available in nearby motels and campgrounds. The weekend begins with dinner Friday at 6 PM and runs through Sunday brunch.
        For details on the weekend, email Rich Wandschneider at rich@fishtrap.org, or call 541-426-3623.

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    In This Issue
    40+1
    The 40+1 National Peace Corps Association Conference in Washington at the end of June was a wonderful success and we have several articles that we hope will share the experience:

    • Thanks to the huge effort made by Joe Kovacs (Sri Lanka 1997–98), over fifty RPCVs read about their Peace Corps experience at the conference. So that a wider audience might share in the readings, we will be publishing them online beginning with this issue. In this month’s issue is a poem by John Wayne Seybold (Brazil 1966–68).
    • One of the emotionally charged moments of the Conference was the introduction of President Alejandro Toledo Manrique of Peru at the opening session. At the last minute, because of sudden unrest within Peru, President Toledo could not attend the Conference, but spoke to the gathering by telephone. He was introduced to the RPCVs by Joel and Nancy Meister who befriended the President when he was a teenager. In this issue, thanks to Joel Meister, we reprint their introduction of the President of Peru.
    • We also report on the Peace Corps Writers activities — and have some photos thanks to Don Beil (Somalia 1964–66).

    The Things She Left Behind
    When a PCV dies overseas, what do they leave behind, in their village? with other PCVs? and in memories that their family members hold and share with each other after the tears and regrets, and finally the acceptance of that death? Shelby Bond died in Africa last year and beyond the vivid memories her family and friends will always have of her, Shelby left behind possessions. Her sister, Jamy Bond, writes in “A Writer Writes” how her family gathered this last January to divide among themselves, and treasure forever, the things Shelby Bond left behind.

    Folk Tale
    This issue’s folktale comes from West Africa, but it is a tale that is common to many African countries. The story of the hyena and the rabbit was sent to us by Jamie Rhein, a PCV in the Gambia from 1982 to 1984.

    Letters Home
    Andy Trincia is a Peace Corps Trainee in Romania. He will become “official” on Aug 16th. Before joining the Peace Corps, Andy was a corporate communications executive in the financial services industry. He sent us a “Letter from Romania” for this issue.

    And there is much more in this issue, from books reviews to literary talk — read on

— John Coyne
Editor