Archive - January 2014

1
Three Poets Write: Three Poems From Africa
2
The FBI Goes After RPCVs
3
Talking to Eleanor Stanford
4
Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71) Has First New Novel In 7 Years
5
Gypsy Street by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)
6
Pete Seeger and Tom Hebert (Nigeria 1962-64): A Short Memoir
7
Two RPCV Women Writers
8
Review of R J Huddy's (Morocco 1981-83) Big Charlene's Weight-Loss Supper Club and Taxi Dancing
9
Remembering Maria Thomas: A Conversation with Her Son, Raphael Worrick
10
Long Time PC/W Staffer Peter Loan Calls It Quit With Words Of Wisdom For The Agency

Three Poets Write: Three Poems From Africa

[These three poems appears in October, 1989 (Volume 1, Number 3) of RPCV Writers, the first publication Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) and I produced as a Third Goal Initiative that focused on Peace Corps Writers. In this newsletter and on our website they have, for twenty-five years, been promoting the careers and publications of novelists, non-fiction writers, and poets who have written about their Peace Corps experiences. Here are poems by Tom Hebert (Nigeria 1962-64);Edward Mycue (Ghana 1961);Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1966-68)] A Water Girl In Blue There’s a world of purpose In your going for water. A simple thing done So recounts the measureless Gallons of time. I call you But from this distance Isn’t there a world Of water between us. Tom Hebert (Nigeria 1962-64) Kwami and Anwar the Magnificent The man who freed without flow of blood, Kwami Nkrfru, once a philosopher, altarboy, and Anwar Retecki, called . . .

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The FBI Goes After RPCVs

[In the late ’80s, I got a call from the writer Karen Schwarz. She had just signed a contract with William Morrow to write a book about the Peace Corps and her editor told her, “Start with John Coyne.” Her editor was an old friend of mine and he had already heard ‘one too many of my stories about the Peace Corps so he was happy to send Karen my way. Karen had never been in the Peace Corps. She interviewed me several times and I gave her a few names and contacts of people she should call, and off she went to write WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY: AN ORAL HISTORY OF THE PEACE CORPS published by Morrow in 1991. It is the first and only oral history of the agency. After her book’s publication, Karen told me she had come on some interesting information about RPCV . . .

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Talking to Eleanor Stanford

Talking to Eleanor Stanford (Cape Verde 1998-2000) Author of História, História As Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) sums up in her review on our site last, “Eleanor Stanford is a marvelous writer; she’s earned her place among the very best in the canon of Peace Corps writers, indeed a high honor.” Where did you serve, Ellie? I was in Fogo, Cape Verde as a TESL teacher. Did you travel much in the rest of Africa? No, not really. I was in Senegal briefly, but mostly I was Cape Verde. Where are you from in the States? The Philadelphia area, though I went to school at New College of Florida in Sarasota. What got you into the Peace Corps? I wanted to travel. I wanted an adventure. But mostly I hoped that there was something I could to benefit other people in some way. When did you decide to write a book . . .

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Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71) Has First New Novel In 7 Years

Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71) is back with a new novel. This is Tom’s first novel in seven years.  At the heart of this book is a love triangle: two men, one woman, all of them writers. The first chapters are set in the mid-eighties in New York City. At Columbia, Ben forms a bond with his macho friend, Hank. Their bond is deep and ostensibly formed around their love of writing. But they soon find out their love is more than literary. As C.S Lewis says, friendship is homosexual. Hank is straight, though, on the Kinsey scale a zero, which means no men. Ben is a five, which means an occasional woman. But both are artists, and this affection between them is a force. How do you measure love? The second part of the book, almost a decade later, takes place in Portland, Oregon.  A now-ill Ben falls for Ruth, . . .

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Gypsy Street by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)

[This is the second in a series of short stories written by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64). Will’s stories are about the folk ‘scene’ in Greenwich Village in the Sixties and Seventies. Will wrote me that the character of his story, Harold Childe, is based on Phil Ochs who took his own life by hanging in 1976, and that the original title for “Gypsy Street” was “The Last Days of Phil Ochs.” With the passing of Pete Seeger it is perhaps time to pause and recall that time in our lives. To put us in the mood, here’s “Gypsy Street,” Will’s story of life in the Village that he knew so well when he was preforming as folksinger Will Street.] Gypsy Street by William Siegel Near the end of the third winter Floyd and Dwain spent in Greenwich Village, disappointment and frustration drove them like a horse and carriage to a . . .

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Pete Seeger and Tom Hebert (Nigeria 1962-64): A Short Memoir

Before coffee early Tuesday morning on the Indian Reservation in Oregon where I live, I checked my email and from Boston, I heard from Murray Frank, my Peace Corps boss in Nigeria: Murray wrote: “Tom, Pete Seeger died yesterday. I thought of you when I read about it. Thanks to you, we got to know him a little.” Yes, Seeger and Hebert in Nigeria. Back in 1964 as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Ibadan, Nigeria, because of my role as the business and tour manager of the University of Ibadan’s new School of Drama, I was asked by the American government to handle a non-sponsored tour Seeger was making to Nigeria. The U. S. Embassy knew that beyond working with Nigerian media, I was well-versed in its traditional and popular music and dance scene. So, for about a week in January, 1964, in a tiny rusty old Austin A40 Dorset 2-door, I banged around . . .

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Two RPCV Women Writers

[In April, 1989 Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) and I published the first issue of RPCV Writers. In that short four page newsletter I wrote our Reasons for Being — “There isn’t really one good reason to publish this newsletter. Putting that aside, I’m going to do it anyway.” I was wrong. There are many good reasons for writing about Peace Corps writers. If for no other reason than to announce to the world the books being published about the Peace Corps experience, and to network all of us  together. In that first issue I wrote the following essay about two of the best Peace Corps writers, two women. Here again (for the sake of history, and to bring new PCVs up to date, is that short essay.] • Two Women Writers by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962–64) THE NEXT TIME someone asks, “What was the Peace Corps like?” hand them . . .

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Review of R J Huddy's (Morocco 1981-83) Big Charlene's Weight-Loss Supper Club and Taxi Dancing

Big Charlene’s Weight-Loss Supper Club and Taxi Dancing: A Twisting Creek Mystery By R J Huddy (Morocco 1981-83) A Peace Corps Writers Book, $12.95; Kindle $ 2.99 254 pages 2014 Reviewed by Richard Lipez (Ethiopia 1962-64) Here’s a charmer of a sort-of-mystery by a talented yarn-spinner who is a pleasure to spend 254 pages with.  I say “sort of” mystery because in the final chapters Huddy starts pulling characters out of thin air in order to duct-tape his narrative in place, and because one big question—was the Farley-parents botulism poisoning accidental or intentional?—is never really answered.  I don’t know what the plural of deus ex machina is, but Huddy could have used at least one more. Huddy’s considerable appeal is in his droll, companionable voice and his Preston Sturgess-like cast of small town odd and not-so-oddballs in Twisting Creek, Kentucky.  Accomplished chef Bradley Michaels lands in this remote burg after . . .

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Remembering Maria Thomas: A Conversation with Her Son, Raphael Worrick

THE PEACE CORPS WRITERS’ MARIA THOMAS FICTION AWARD is named after the novelist Maria Thomas [Roberta Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73)] who was the author of a well-reviewed novel, Antonia Saw the Oryx First,  and two collections of short stories — Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage and Other Stories and African Visas: A Novella and Stories — all set in Africa. Roberta and Tom Worrick were married with a young son when they went to Ethiopia as a married couple with the Peace Corps. After their tour, they continued to live and work in Africa. In addition to her life as a wife, mother, and PCV, Roberta Worrick was a wonderful writer. Her stories appeared in Redbook, Story and The New Yorker. She was a Wallace E. Stegner Fellow and received an Overseas Press Club’s commendation for reportage in Harper’s. She was coming into her own as a literary figure . . .

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Long Time PC/W Staffer Peter Loan Calls It Quit With Words Of Wisdom For The Agency

Peter Loan retired this month after 17 years with the agency over a 38 year span.  In those years, he spent 9 with the Africa Region, including 3 years in Zaire (DRC), and work in the Office of Program and Budget, International Operations, the Office of the Director, (Policy, Planning and Analysis) the Office of Training and Program Support, and Management. His most recent job was managing the Office of Overseas Staff Recruitment and Selection. When he wasn’t working for the agency, he was Director of International Grant Programs for Sister Cities International, taught international students at National Louis University, College of Management, and he was on the faculty of the Graduate School, USDA, where he led the International Development Seminar and also taught Swahili. With his wife, Ceola, he co-founded Brown and Loan Associates, a management and cross-cultural training firm. He has also published several books human development,  as . . .

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