In April, 1989, Marian Haley Beil and I published a 4-page newsletter entitled RPCV Writers. I had — as a writer — been tracking other Peace Corps writers, and had already organized a panel discussion about Peace Corps books for the 25th Anniversary RPCV Conference in 1986.
Marian, also an Ethiopia I (1962-64) Volunteer, agreed to help me. She designed, published and circulated the quarterly newsletter.
We saw our newsletter as a way of sharing information about publications, readings, writing grants, and teaching positions for RPCVs. To recognize and promote Peace Corps writers, in 1990, we established annual awards for outstanding writing in a variety of genre. We funded the award prizes and have (so far) given out 143.
In July of 1991 we changed the publication’s name to RPCV Writers & Readers and increased the number of issues to six a year. In November 1998, we published our last issue of RPCV Writers & Readers, which had grown to 20 pages.
Shortly after that, publisher Marian Beil established our online presence: www.PeaceCorpsWriters.org. We continued to promote and recognize Peace Corps writers until 2000 when we broadened the concept of “writing” and asked other RPCVs to contribute blogs to our site. We became www.PeaceCorpsWorldwide.org.
In 2010, we established the Peace Corps Writers imprint to enable Peace Corps writers to publish their books. To date the imprint has published 75 books, 47 of them are about the Peace Corps experience.
At the 50th Anniversary of the Peace Corps in 2011, with the assistance of Congressman John Garamendi and his wife, Patricia, both PCVs in Ethiopia (1966-68), we celebrated “Peace Corps Writers” with a luncheon at the Library of Congress, and the Library’s creation of a Special Collection: Peace Corps Books.
We had achieved what we had always wanted: a literary genre that might rightfully be called Peace Corps Literature.
And we have realized that there is a good reason for our volunteer efforts all these years — the Third Goal of the Peace Corps.