Comments from subscribers on the demise
of RPCV Writers & Readers
I'm trying to absorb the news. It's hard to accept that only 310 of us [subscribers] are so right and the rest of the 140,000 RPCVs so wrong.
     I, for one, will be forever grateful to you, John, Don, and your many contributors. While it didn't last, it — and you — did make a lasting difference.
     Let me know immediately if you begin to rethink the death sentence. I'd be glad to volunteer to take on some marketing responsibilities and to seek financial support.
     May RPCV W&R RIP. Sic transit gloria mundi.
     Onward and upward. Remember that the Optimists Rule The World. Focus on the Future. Think Internet.
     God bless you. And God Bless America. And God Bless ESPECIALLY the 310 of us.
David Elliott
(Poland 1990–92; staff: Sierra Leone, Nigeria, India 64–68)
I read with sadness your farewell to the newsletter. You did such an
admirable job, for no compensation, and probably very few pats on the
back. I only regret you didn't write that column two issues ago, to give
everyone some time to think of ways of making it work and reaching a larger audience.
     You are to be applauded for your effort. We whose PC experience
formed an integral part of our development can only be thankful.
Larry Grobel (Ghana 1968–71)
I always felt guilty about reading “Cable Traffic” first. Little did I know I was in the majority.
     All things considered, ten years is a pretty good run, considering that neither Hearst nor Conde Nast bankrolled you and that returned volunteers are a notoriously unpredictable bunch. Best of luck with your novel.
Dan Buck (Peru 1965–67)
I was sorry to read about the shutdown of W&R. Dannie always shared her copy and I enjoyed the commentary (your comments and feelings about Paul Theroux are classic). Would it help if I took out my own subscription?
Daryle Russell (Ethiopia 63–65)
I just read of the newsletter's demise. Understand and appreciate your decision, but wanted to say THANK YOU SO MUCH for permitting us to have it all this time. I loved every issue!! Please keep whatever meager monies you can from me. I will miss my regular contact with you and the writers through the newsletter. Thanks again.
Nedra Hartzell (Korea 1973–75)
I spoke to John on the phone a week or so ago and he told me about the fate of RPCV Writers & Readers. But actually seeing it in black and white is different.
     Originally, this message was going to be a plea to continue. But — ten years is yeoman work- and I will not ask.
     I will only thank you and John for the incredible work you have done. Over the years, you have nurtured, supported, and promoted an increasingly diversified group of Peace Corps writers. Without Writers & Readers, I would never have been introduced to and come to know people like Mary-Ann Tirone Smith, Mike Tidwell, Geraldine Kennnedy, and so many more. I remember when I sent my son, Philip, a copy of The Ponds of Kalambayi for Xmas. He was getting ready to head off for training as a fisheries volunteer in the Congo Republic. He read the book over and over, took it to the Congo with him, read it to shreds there — he still has what's left of it. He told me later, “Mom; the two most wonderful things you gave me were that book and duct tape!”
     Thank you - from all of us.
Jill Johnson (Philippines 1970-72)
What a sad surprise to read that Writers & Readers is closing! But I've enjoyed it — more than the official Peace Corps press, and more than the RPCV mail I get. Many thanks for your tremendous service. Job well done!
David Hunsberger (Venezuela 1967–69)
You can't stop publishing RPCV Writers & Readers because you have to print something getting my name (Pete) right rather than wrong (Tom) in front of “The Cultural Dynamics . . .”
     On the other hand, all is forgiven. I can't quite figure out why subscriptions slid. The issues got more interesting as they went along. Maybe, as you suggest in “Is this newsletter necessary?” the practical payoff wasn't that great and people get distracted. We're all supposed to be busy busy busy.
     Anyway I'm sorry to see it go and I wish you luck with the forthcoming edited collection.
Peter Mc Donough (East Pakistan 1961–63)
i am sorry to learn that you are shutting the newsletter down.
     from where i sit, you did a wonderful job for a long time and the melancholy finale shouldn't distract you from the fun and good company over the years. again . . .thanks.
p.f. kluge (Micronesia 1967–69)
After 10 years you both decide to call it quits??? is this the stuff a 60's RPCV is made of ? Why you hardly gave it a chance? And you expect to make it in the publishing world?
     Seriously, I want to thank you both for the consistently high quality
publication that I have had the pleasure to read over these last 10 years.
     RPCV Writers & Readers
will be sorely missed.
Joe Ciuffini (Ethiopia 1964–66)
Saturday was a sad day for me. It didn't start out that way. I slept in, drank good coffee, read the paper, then the mail came. When I read that this issue of RPCV Writers & Readers would be the last issue, I felt a wave of sadness that I don't think has quite subsided. Since I got back from Cameroon in 1991, I have been a loyal reader and subscriber. I've read the publication cover to cover and most importantly, called my local bookstore and ordered many of the “recent books by PC writers” for my shelves. It brought me together with Linda Donelson while I was living in Iowa City and helped me track the careers of Melanie Sumner and Eileen Drew — 2 writers I'm just bananas about. And this past summer, when I got the Paul Theroux issue, I remember doing a double cycle on the Stairmaster as I read. I wasn't getting off that beast until I had finished reading. I had the best intentions of sending a thank you to you both for that issue, and now, here we are, months later, the publication is folding and now I thank you. Too late, maybe. But what can I say? I'm still young and learning. Shall I fall into lyric-speak? “You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone”?
     I feel as if the most important PC publication is gone. Yes, we all read Worldview and 3/1/61 and Hotline and specific Friends of... newsletters, but for me, RPCV W & R was getting to the very heart of what the PC experience gave me — a lifetime of material to write about, a dedication to craft, a small community of fellow crazies and devotees who went, saw, journaled and said, “Yes! Yes! This is it! I'm going to write!” Thank you for keeping that spark alive for me.
     I hope to meet both of you someday.
Mary Beth Simmons (Cameroon 1989–91)
Thank you for RPCV Writers & Readers. It has been a valuable publication for me. Since my first issue, I have read them all cover to cover soon after receiving them. I don't understand why more Peace Corps writers haven't embraced it. You have done a wonderful service, and I deeply regret that you must let it go. Would that there were some way to keep it in publication. Again, thank you.
Mark Lowry II
Please add me to the list of people sorry to see this last issue of RPCV. I was given the name of your publication by a former PC volunteer, at least 8-9 years ago and subscribed since then, even though I've never been in the PC. But, I've written a book about my adventures as a missionary nurse in Guatemala and looked forward to reading your bulletin cover to cover, for ideas of publishers, and just reading books by people with similar viewpoints and experiences. My book still isn't published, but it will be. I got some of the most helpful feedback ever, from a publisher of a small press in Texas who published a book about the PC. So thanks, for your helpful, inspiring, and very interesting publication through all these years. I only wish the newspaper was equally as interesting. Maybe some rich subscriber will come thru with a last minute bountiful grant to keep you guys going. Let's hope.  Thanks for everything.
Elizabeth Desimone
I'm missing RPCV Writers & Readers already and i haven't even finished this issue. As i have mentioned before it is the only thing that comes through my mail slot (counting the stuff that doesn't even fit) that I read immediately from cover to cover. I guess i didn't say it loud and clear
     enough. i also guess there is no way to change your minds about this. i certainly understand your position. Only wish i had known about it ten years ago instead of four or five. As to whether the journal is necessary, let me share with you that after the last issue, i submitted two pieces to the Chicken Soup add. they called me from Cal. asking for details and a disk saying that they really liked both and they thought at least one was sure to be published but they won't know until April after a rigorous selection process. My second ever adult submission!!! keeping in touch (networking something I never thought of myself as doing) is most necessary in this business. Thanks. PS about the conference in August. i said I wouldn't be there when you asked because we are planning a trip to Europe to visit all of our Foreign exchange students families and friends from Europe we met in third world countries but don't know when. BUT we are also facing the bankruptcy of the hosp. my husband works for so we may be moving or I could be working full time at McD's, but hey this is nothing to the daily insecurities faced by most humans around the world so I got to thinking that there is always chance that i can make it to Minnesota in august (if we're bankrupt we can't go to Europe). I think I know someone who is driving. will keep in touch.
Karen Lynne Williams
(Malawi 1980–83)
I was very sorry to read of your having to stop publishing RPCV Writers & Readers. While I understand the reasons, I'll miss reading the articles and comments. The newsletter helped me feel connected to the PC community in the way you describe All You Need Is Love doing so.
     Please know that you've given many like me the chance to continue to maintain that feeling.
Howard Schuman (Thailand 1968–70)
I just returned from five weeks in the field on Saturday. My wife said all is well. Then I went through the mail and learned that RPCV Writers & Readers is no more. Ruined my day, that's what you did.
     Seriously, I shall miss it. I too was one of those who read each issue top to bottom when received. Maybe someone else with the time and guts will volunteer to keep it going.
      Some publications, of course, survive a bit longer. Both newspapers I worked for will celebrate their 200th anniversaries next year: The Dartmouth and The Keene Sentinel. It would have been something for RPCV Writers & Readers to shoot for. But 10 years isn't bad.
     Thanks for the memories.
Kevin Lowther (Sierra Leone 1963–65)
Thanks so much for ten years of your newsletter. I have always enjoyed it. I read it right away when it arrives. It has guided us to a lot of good writing that I'm sure we would have missed had it not been for your reviews. I don't understand why there are not more subscribers but please know that my wife and I (and many others with whom we have shared RPCV W&R) are grateful for what you've given us. We send it to my daughter who's a PCV in Mali and she tells us that it ranks right up there with People Magazine with the Volunteers staying at the Peace Corps Hostel. As you close the books on this effort, if you find that you are short of funds to cover final expenses, please let me know.
Jim Ekstrom
(Nigeria 1964–66, Niger 73–76, Cameroon 76–78)
I just wanted to let you know I understand your decision to drop the newsletter. Such projects tend to be thankless tasks, and ten years is a long time.
Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978–80)
I am sorry to learn of the cessation of RPCV Writers & Readers. It has been a joy and inspiration to me to read it each time. All I can say is: Thank you for bringing it to us.
Sarah Ventres (Haiti 1990–91)
I was quite shocked to read about the demise of the newsletter. I was even more surprised to read about the small number of subscriptions, especially from the writers. I fully understand your logic for the decision. It will be missed, however. It was one of the newsletters I get that I read from cover to cover upon arrival . . . Want you to know I especially enjoyed your review of the Cobbs Hoffman book and the interview with her. Sounds like a good Christmas present for certain friends . . . Anyhow, sorry for the demise of the publication but thank you and Marian for a great job for so long under difficult circumstances. I know it was a labor of love . . .
Maureen Carroll (Philippines 1961–63)
I was very sorry to learn that the newsletter is coming to an end. The November issue was just forwarded to us in CA where we are spending a few weeks. As an avid reader of it, one who was given plenty of coverage by it (some of which was even favorable!) and as a four-year subscriber I can truly say that it will be missed.
     On the other hand I can well imagine the frustration of seeing all of your hard work and obvious talent going to serve only a handful out of all those who should really have been supporters. Volunteer work is still work and when the internal rewards are few the temptation to say the hell with it is strong. You can take great pride in a job well done.
David Searles
(Philippines staff 1971–74; PC Dep Dir 1974–76)
Thanks for the writers' news. Once you've reconsidered, and decided to publish again, let me know. I'll send my subscription right on in. How about just doing an annual review? RPCV W&R meant a lot to me. Besides
just plain enjoying it, I think it gave me some confidence that yes, I too could be a writer, and, especially in the early years, it gave me confidence that if I ever did have something to publish, there was plenty of knowledge out there to help me get it published.
Philip Curd (Guinea 1963–65)
I read you final column in the recent newsletter and your decision to cease publication. I'm sure that was a hard choice for you and Marian. It was a great publication — and I hope your response in Minneapolis is good. At any rate, you both should take considerable pride in advancing the awareness of RPCV writers.
     Many thanks.
Mark Gearan (Peace Corps Director)
On something different, however, I was disappointed to hear that Readers & Writers will not be continued. It is something I have enjoyed in the past, but I am as guilty as the next for not having subscribed. It occurred to be yesterday that there can only be two reason why you are not continuing; not enough submissions, or not enough subscribers. If submissions is the case, their is little I can do, but if subscribers is the issue, and the costs of production outweigh what you are taking in for the magazine, let me make a suggestion. I think Readers and Writers should be published on the web. Practically, it would be dirt cheap. No paper, no ink, no postage. It does limit the audience to those that have Internet access, but it may expand it to those that are beyond the PC fold. There are other issues to explore in terms
of presentation and formatting, but I feel that this is one way to keep an inherently good idea alive while the rest of the world catches up. Further, there is the possibility of offering advertising space on those pages to offset the costs that are incurred, and perhaps even reestablish the print edition.
     Please let me know if this shot in the dark is just that, or if you think it has merit. I would be interested in working with you on this.
Mark Matthews
I'm sorry RPCV W&R is closing up.  I've enjoyed it, and think you
really did a great job.
 Neil Boyer (Ethiopia 1962–64)
Fi, sadness, and gloom. Well, you put out a fine newslette — I hadn't realized it was 10 years worth, and I'm truly sad to see it go. It was, for me, not just a link to PC and writers, but a good read. And I got an agent out of it. “Cable Traffic” was of course a fun part, but I always turned to the interview first. Good questions, the Kinky Friedman piece always stuck in my mind.
     For what it's worth, I would have paid double for the subscription.
     But you're right that most of us were laid back about it and only sent in bits when we wanted our own books reviewed.
     My hat's off to you both, and kudos for the accomplishment, we're better for it — 10 years is longer than JFK, Jr's George will ever last.
Karl Luntta (Botswana 1977–80)
Ten minutes after I sent my last e-mail I received your package in my box. Thank you! I haven't read it yet partly because I was taken aback by the lead story. I'm sorry that you are "putting the paper to bed" for the last time,as they say, and having founded and closed down a paper myself once I know how you must feel. But please allow me to be one of the first to say, "well done." You have documented a school of literature. Future historians and scholars of literature shall be indebted you. As for me, I am honored to have been included.
Lisa
(Elizabeth Cobbs Hoffman, author of All You Need is Love: The Peace Corps and the Spirit of the 1960s)
Hello, I just wanted to send you a message to let you know how sorry I am that RPCV Writers and Readers will be no more. I discovered it after my two years in Poland when I was at the RPCV convention in Atlanta before I left for two more years in Madagascar. Over the course of my two years in Madagascar my copies were sent to me by my family as they came in and they had a relevancy to my life at that time which far exceeded most other things I got in the mail. Which perhaps helps to explain the lack of interest in your publication stateside. A certain perspective, or parts of it are inevitably left behind upon returning to the States. It might be the particulars of that perspective that RPCV Writers & Readers most appealed to. Unfortunately...

. . . thanks for some good stuff.

Billy Lambert
(Poland 1992–94; Madagascar 1994–96)
The loss is mine and those you served. Sometimes people place dollars before common sense.
Ed Koch (Philippines 1996–98)
Just returned from a trip to read the final issue and learn the sad news. . . . I have long thought that your newsletter was the healthiest writing about Peace Corps, have encouraged other RPCVs to subscribe, and will miss it greatly.
     You have fought the good fight, and I only wish that others had had the good sense to make the small contribution that a subscription entailed ... alas, through inertia, laziness, or perhaps simply from moving on (I sometimes think that is something I have not done enough of, vis-a-vis my Peace Corps history & memories) . . . few apparently did, despite their professed good intentions
     You will be missed. Thanks again.
Roger LaBrucherie
(Dominican Republic 1969–71
I mourned at the news. My husband and I have subscribed since the first time we saw one of the issues years ago, and I was among those subscribers who read it cover to cover as soon as it arrived in the mail.
     In response to your headline question, “Is this newsletter necessary?” I guess the answer is ‘no,’ but as a former newsletter writer and producer, I know there is no newsletter that is really necessary.
     But was it important? Yes, yes, yes! It was important for the reasons you cited. . . . documenting the Peace Corps experience and furthering the idea of a school of PC literature, but also as a means of maintaining and strengthening connections to the Third World through literature. I have met people who proclaim the Peace Corps a failure because it cannot document big progress in Third World development. But when they read articles and stories by Peace Corps writers, they understand that there is more to involvement in developing countries than can be documented in USAID or World Bank reports. I know that from the responses of people who read articles I have written . . . people who would never venture to these countries by themselves. I don't know how many non-Peace Corps subscribers you had, but by recognizing and promoting Peace Corps writers and readers, you encouraged this type of writing.
     I was always tempted to offer my volunteer services as an editor or book reviewer, but it seemed so well written and edited that I assumed you had adequate help. But if you ever decide to start it again, let me know. I'd be glad to help.
Paula Hirschoff (Nepal 1968–70)

I was first delighted to receive the Nov 98 issue of RPCV W&R, then thrilled to see my vignette in the “A Writer Writes” section, and then saddened to learn that I was holding in my hands the last issue of RPCV W&R.
     First of all I would like to thank you and Marian for putting together a wonderful newsletter. It is my all-time favorite newsletter. I'm shocked that you had so few subscribers.
     If you EVER think about reviving RPCV W&R, I will definitely subscribe and I will be more proactive in encouraging others to subscribe. Whenever I speak at a COS conference (one of those “Is there life after PC?” panels) I always bring copies of your publication and urge the COSing PCVs to subscribe. I guess they haven't been, however.
     I am really hoping that this is a temporary shut-down. Any possibility of getting subsidies from the “rich” RPCV writers? Theroux, Friedman, etc? If there is anything I can do out here in Niger to help reanimate this amazing publication, just let me know (I do not have access to the Internet; no browser).
     But mostly I just wanted to say thank you. I will really miss this newsletter.
Sue Rosenfeld (Senegal 1977–81)
I have been completely desolé since hearing of the end of the newsletter. I know you warned this was coming, but did you consider what one more middle-age loss would do to some of us? I just want to make it perfectly clear, I DO NOT want a penny of refund and will be happy to contribute if any more Joyces surface. (honestly! and she claims to be an RPCV)
     I'm sure you both know how I have felt about the importance of the newsletter from the beginning. I was one of those who dropped everything to read it cover to cover. You created a community of Peace Corps writers who would never have known of each other, and you did it generously,
fairly, superbly. I've heard from two writer friends (subscribers, they tell me) who lamented never having told you how much the newsletter meant to them. I hope they have now.
     Thank you both for all the good you have done.
Geraldine Kennedy (Liberia 1962–64)
I was sorry to read that the newsletter was ending. In fact I was so absorbed in reading that last issue that I missed my train stop (on the Tokyo subway)! The final issue arrived while I was away for a month and it took me almost another month to open the envelope, thus I received the news just recently.
     I understand the work that goes into the newsletter and your decision to cease publishing.
     But it was great while it lasted. Really quality stuff.
Melinda Tsuchiya
(Western Samoa 1984–87)
I was terribly upset at the end of a great and welcome magazine and can understand your frustration and need to call it quits.
     The publication will certainly be missed.
Phil Lilienthal (Ethiopia 1965–67)
I was saddened to learn that the RPCV Writers and Readers was ceasing publication, though I am in sympathy with your rationale.
Bill McCauley
(Sierra Leone 1985–87)
I have been meaning to write regarding the RPCV Writers & Readers newsletter. I can readily understand the reasons you decided to cease publication. What a lot of work and energy and money you put into it! It's too bad you didn't receive more support from us, the subscribers. I'll tell you one thing, though. You may not have been able to see it, but if there were any other people out there like me, your publication was growing and strengthening in their hearts. I really looked forward to its arrival, and it provided me with a link to what was going on. If you ever decide to start it up again (how about a late spring and mid-autumn publication?) include me in. Raise the price. I'd be happy to pay more for it, and I'll bet others would, too. In the meantime, please accept my thanks for a wonderful link to old buddies and new ideas.
Dan Close (Ethiopia 1966–68)
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