Archive - March 2016

1
Matthew A. Hamilton’s (Armenia, Philippines) new collection of poems: LIPS OPEN AND DIVINE
2
Writers who joined the Peace Corps to “burn with a hard, gemlike flame”
3
From HuffPost Impact: Interview with A TOWERING TASK film director, Alana DeJoseph (Mali)
4
Restructuring The Peace Corps
5
“There Is No Such Thing as a True Story” by Ellen Urbani (Guatemala)
6
Review — THE COLOR OF A LION’S EYE by Jane F. Bonin
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Review — ISLES OF THE BLIND by Robert Rosenberg (Kyrgyzstan)
8
THE TOWERING TASK — A Film by Alana DeJoseph (Mali)
9
“St. Pete” — Gerald Karey (Turkey)
10
Journals of Peace — Gary P. Russell (Ecuador)

Matthew A. Hamilton’s (Armenia, Philippines) new collection of poems: LIPS OPEN AND DIVINE

The winner of the Peace Corps Writers Best Book of Poetry in 2013 for  The Land of the Four Rivers, Matthew Hamilton, has a new collection entitled, Lips Open and Divine. These new poems will be published this spring by Winter Goose. It is a collection that “confronts some of the moral consequences of our time.” These poems are “void of hectoring language and insensitivity, forcing us to examine our most private and emotional complexities. Matthew Hamilton is a former Soldier, Congressional Aide, Peace Corps Volunteer, and Benedictine Monk. He holds a Master of Fine Arts from Fairfield University and is a three time Pushcart Prize nominee. His stories and poems have appeared in a variety of national and international journals, including Atticus Review, Coe Review, Noctua Review, Emerge Literary Journal, Burnt Bridge, Boston Literary Magazine, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, and The Transnational. Currently, he is the Librarian at . . .

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Writers who joined the Peace Corps to “burn with a hard, gemlike flame”

Cupple House, St. Louis University This is an article I wrote for my college alumni magazine at Saint Louis University about a writing professor of mine who also was the teacher of several other PCVs in the early years of the agency. This professor was the mentor of dozens of future poets and writers and shows, I hope, how one professor can influence and encourage students to write, whether they join the Peace Corps or not. • “To Burn With A Hard, Gemlike Flame” Let me tell you what it was like to be in the English Department in the ’50s during the Silent Generation, at the time of the Beat Poets, when Gas Light Square was in its infancy, and everyone was on the road. I came to Saint Louis University in 1955 because of the Writers’ Institute founded by Dr. James Cronin. Dr. Cronin was the first person to tell me . . .

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From HuffPost Impact: Interview with A TOWERING TASK film director, Alana DeJoseph (Mali)

Alana DeJoseph (Mali 1992–94), director of the film “A Towering Task” was recently interviewed by Ann Paisley Chandler for HuffPost Impact. The interview, entitled “A Towering Task: A Peace Corps Documentary.” The Peace Corps is more relevant today than it ever was, but it’s not the same Peace Corps of the 60s. There is a fascinating story that has never been told. Please consider supporting this campaign today. • Ann Paisley Chandler: What inspired you to start A Towering Task? Alana DeJoseph: One in every 1,450 Americans is a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer. As Americans we care about how we show up in the world, and I think lately people are frustrated rather than proud about our interactions with the rest of the world. The foreign aid budget is less than 1% of the entire US budget, and of that 1%, the Peace Corps’ budget is about 1%. The Peace Corps has had incredible ripple . . .

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Restructuring The Peace Corps

  Emphasize the Peace Corps’s Third Goal Most people are aware of the Peace Corps’s first two goals—contribute to the developing of critical countries and regions, and promote international cooperation and goodwill—but few have ever heard of the Third Goal, which many RPCVs view as the most important. The Third Goal states that RPCVs should help to educate Americans about the world beyond its borders, enabling citizens to participate in foreign affairs with greater sophistication and sensitivity. The agency could continue the service of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers by establishing opportunities for RPCVs to tell their stories through public schools and a variety of national organizations, including the Library Association, Rotary, Kiwanis, Lions, League of Women Voters, National Council of La Raza, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the National Organization for Women. While today there is a Third Goal Office in the agency it should be . . .

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“There Is No Such Thing as a True Story” by Ellen Urbani (Guatemala)

Ellen Urbani (1991–93) emailed me this article and note: Not that this has anything to do with Peace Corps, but an essay of mine came out in The Rumpus yesterday. It’s one that was almost 15 years in the making; hard to tell, but important, I believe. Please feel free to share if you’re so inclined. http://therumpus.net/2016/03/there-is-no-such-thing-as-a-true-story/ • THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A TRUE STORY BY ELLEN URBANI. There is no such thing as a true story. I know this because my daughter insists I told her to put her dirty dishes in the sink when I know I told her to put them in the dishwasher, and because my sister swears that on a late summer night in 1990 I deliberately flicked a Japanese beetle into her mouth when—cross my heart and hope to die—I only intended to swat it off my mother’s shoulder. I know this because my . . .

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Review — THE COLOR OF A LION’S EYE by Jane F. Bonin

The Color of a Lion’s Eye: Memories of Africa by Jane Bonin (Staff: Malawi, Niger 1994–2000) Border Press 114 pages 2015 $15.00 (paperback) Reviewed by Peter Deekle (Iran 1968-70) • For many Peace Corps Volunteers, their first opportunity to live and work in a foreign culture begins with their service abroad. They often keep a daily journal to help them organize and process their encounters with their host country. Jane F. Bonin, having enjoyed a long academic career and subsequent U.S. government assignment in Washington, D.C. offers a different “first opportunity” with the unique perspective informed by her maturity and a scholar’s capacity for order and reflection. After several decades as a scholar, parent and spouse Jane Bonin is free of family and financial obligations to accept an administrative post in a country heretofore unknown to her. As Bonin observes in The Color of a Lion’s Eye, “Many of the Peace . . .

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Review — ISLES OF THE BLIND by Robert Rosenberg (Kyrgyzstan)

Isles of the Blind Robert Rosenberg (Kyrgyzstan 1994–96) Fomite March 2016 496 pages $17.95 (paperback) Reviewed by Peter Van Deekle (Iran 1968–70) • Peace Corps service provides for every Volunteer a unique and life-changing series of experiences that become enriched and enhanced through sharing with others. Robert Rosenberg, like others who have recognized the value of living in a foreign culture, has engaged his highly perceptive and creative mind toward this end. He is Associate Professor of English and teaches fiction courses at Bucknell, and holds an M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, has served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kyrgyzstan, as a Fulbright Scholar in India, and has taught in both Istanbul and on the White Mountain Apache Reservation. For his new novel Isles of the Blind, he draws upon his first-hand experiences as a resident in the Middle East. The author uses his knowledge of the history . . .

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THE TOWERING TASK — A Film by Alana DeJoseph (Mali)

It isn’t until you lose something that you realize how important it was. For several years now, I have appreciated John Coyne and Marian Beil’s amazing website on so many levels. I have used it for research, to keep up-to-date on everything Peace Corps, for historical information, to fritter away many an hour, and to learn of the next great Peace Corps book. It made me feel good to know this incredible body of work was at my fingertips anytime I needed a dose of Peace Corps in my life. And then the website went down. To be revamped, John assured me. It would be back up soon, he said. Days went by without John’s familiar emails in my inbox, enticing me to spend another few educational minutes on one of the great articles at peacecorpsworldwide.org. When just weeks before I had filed away several of John’s updates, knowing that I would . . .

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“St. Pete” — Gerald Karey (Turkey)

St. Pete Gerald Karey (Turkey 1965–67) • Death was a frequent visitor to the Ebb Tide Retirement and Nursing Home in St. Pete. It usually arrived during the night – perhaps there was a biological or psychological reason for that – but whatever the reason it allowed the staff to deal quietly and discretely with it, in order shield the residents from the grim reality that death had taken another. Not that it made much difference to the residents who knew Ebb Tide would be their final stop on what Mrs. Daphne Delacourt from Piscataway, New Jersey – who as a young woman appeared in a number of amateur theatricals and was given to dramatic gestures and phrases – liked to call life’s great journey. But while the residents didn’t dwell on dying or talk much about death, most shared a resigned acceptance about its inevitably and it was never . . .

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Journals of Peace — Gary P. Russell (Ecuador)

Journals of Peace Gary P. Russell (Ecuador 1978-81) Monday, November 21 7:18 pm • To this day, my Peace Corps experience remains the most influential and rewarding time of my life. For this, I have you to thank JFK. In forming the Peace Corps, you championed a concept that captured the best in humanity. You gave me and other Americans a unique opportunity to work with other citizens of the world in the pursuit of economic and social development and world peace. Twenty-seven years after its enactment, the Peace Corps is alive and well; its work valued by political leaders at home and aboard. As a child I remember being attracted to the commercials that asked Americans to join the Corps. Even then, as an average run of the mill kid, I was fascinated by the concept, though at the time I never really gave much thought to joining as . . .

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