Archive - August 2020

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ERADICATING SMALLPOX: another time, place, virus — Award Winning Book
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2020 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Book of Poetry — STRANGE BEAUTY OF THE WORLD by Bill Preston (Thailand)
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Review — MARK TWAIN, DETECTIVE by Joseph Theroux (Western Samoa)
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2020 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Peace Corps Memoir — WOVEN by Nancy Heil Knor (Belize)
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2020 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Travel Book — EUROPE BY BUS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)
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Bob Vila (Panama) on ONE TRUE PODCAST talks about Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cuba
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2020 Peace Corps Writers’ Award for Best Book of Short Stories — YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS by Kristen Roupenian (Kenya)
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2020 Peace Corps Writers’ Rowland Sherman Award for Best Book of Photography — ALTAMONT 1969 by Bill Owens (Jamaica)
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2020 Peace Corps Writers’ Maria Thomas Award for the Best Book of Fiction — WITH KENNEDY IN THE LAND OF THE DEAD by Will Siegel (Ethiopia)
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Peace Corps Writers Best Photography Award named in honor of Rowland Scherman

ERADICATING SMALLPOX: another time, place, virus — Award Winning Book

Houston lawyer James Skelton recalls his stint with the Peace Corps  By Andrew Dansby  Houston Chronicle  August 23, 2020 James Skelton finished his book about a deadly virus long before a global pandemic put epidemiology in the news. His intention, rather, was to tell the story of a group of Peace Corps volunteers dealing with all manner of health and logistical challenges. The book’s title covers it well: “Eradicating Smallpox in Ethiopia: Peace Corps Volunteers’ Accounts of Their Adventures, Challenges and Achievements.” This month, the book won the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award, an annual honor for Peace Corps volunteers or staffers who best depict life in the Peace Corps. “Eradicating Smallpox in Ethiopia” proved a complicated task for Skelton and his co-authors and co-editors. It comprises 18 essays written about efforts between the World Health Organization and the Peace Corps to rid the African nation of the disease . . .

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2020 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Book of Poetry — STRANGE BEAUTY OF THE WORLD by Bill Preston (Thailand)

  Strange Beauty of the World: Poems Bill Preston (Thailand 1977–80) Peace Corps Writers 148 pages August 2018 $14.00 (paperback), $9.99 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Peter V. Deekle (Iran 1968–70) Bill Preston (Thailand, 1977-1980) began his professional encounter with his native language, English, during his Peace Corps TEFL assignment, as did this reviewer. But Bill continued his formal engagement with English well beyond Peace Corps. This engagement has strengthened his expertise as a writer and poet. Strange Beauty of the World is a collection both personal and universal in its appeal, organized in broad sections of Bill’s experience and recollections. The universality of each poem enables the reader to find a unique voice and vision of the expressed sentiments and events. Regardless of style and form (mostly extended narrative forms, but a few, often playful, rhyming) the poems seem to this reviewer both appropriate to the themes and evocative of each subject’s meaning. . . .

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Review — MARK TWAIN, DETECTIVE by Joseph Theroux (Western Samoa)

  Mark Twain, Detective by Joseph Peter Theroux (Western Samoa 1975 – 78) Self Published 212 pages June 2020 $10.00 (paperback), $0.00 (Kindle)   Reviewed by Sue Hoyt Aiken (Ethiopia 1962-64)  • The author provides a look back to a period of history involving famous good guys and the famous not so good guys.  The Editors Note: Introductory is as interesting as the story itself leaving the reader eager to unearth more about Mark Twain, Robert Louis Stevenson and the whole sugar-dominating force, the Speckles’ family. Their flamboyance is in stark contrast to the undercurrent of trafficking in human souls, opium and more. The mystery unfolds and plays out in Hawaii in the late 1800s when Twain sails to Hawaii to give a lecture. While a pandemic supposedly prevented him from coming ashore to deliver the lecture, materials later discovered would say otherwise. Did he join Lloyd Osborne, did he witness the Georgia . . .

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2020 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Peace Corps Memoir — WOVEN by Nancy Heil Knor (Belize)

  Woven: A Peace Corps Adventure Spun with Faith, Laughter, and Love Nancy Heil Knor (Belize 1989-91) Peace Corps Writers November 5, 2019 322 pages $12.95 (paperback)   • Talking with Nancy Heil Knor (Belize), author of Woven an interview by Marian Haley Beil (Ethiopia 1962-64) Nancy, where and when did you serve in the Peace Corps? I had the privilege of serving in the village of San Pedro Columbia in Belize, Central America, from 1989–1991. I loved it! The village is inhabited by K’ekchi Mayan families who are mostly subsistence farmers. When I lived there, the population was about 1,000 people; it was one of the larger Mayan villages in the southernmost district of Belize. What was your Peace Corps project assignment? Originally, I was sent to the village to teach the villagers how to plant carrots in order to increase their intake of Vitamin A. Vitamin A helps prevent vision . . .

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2020 Peace Corps Writers Award for Best Travel Book — EUROPE BY BUS by Steve Kaffen (Russia)

  Europe By Bus: 50 Bus Trips and City Visits Steve Kaffen (Russia 1994-96) 371 pages SK Journeys Publisher May 2019 $16.00 (paperback)   Reviewed by Craig Storti (Morocco (1970-72) Europe by bus? Really? Does anyone travel by bus who doesn’t have to? Aren’t buses for commuters? OK, tour buses, for sure. But Steve Kaffen is not talking about tour buses; he’s talking about buses as in the way go to from one city to another—all across Europe, for heaven’s sake! Who would do that when you can take a nice, comfortable train? I was skeptical. Can you tell? But then I’m an American, and intercity bus travel is not nearly as common in the US; we have cars for that sort of thing. But one of the revelations in Kaffen’s book is how well-developed intercity bus travel is in Europe, within the same country and from one country to . . .

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Bob Vila (Panama) on ONE TRUE PODCAST talks about Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cuba

    The first installment of One True Podcast, produced by The Hemingway Society, features Bob Vila (Panama 1969-70) talking about his involvement in “saving” Ernest Hemingway’s home in Cuba. Having been to Cuba on a tour with the NPCA several years ago, it was a great chance for me to remember my visit, going with NPCA director Glenn Blumhorst. (If the NPCA ever gets a chance to return to Cuba, go!) Meanwhile, listen to this 50 minutes of Bob talking about his connection to Cuba, where his parents and relatives all were from, and how he was involved with the project where Ernie lived most of his life after leaving Paris. It is at: https://www.buzzsprout.com/347030/4981130 This episode was recorded on 5/27/2020.

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2020 Peace Corps Writers’ Award for Best Book of Short Stories — YOU KNOW YOU WANT THIS by Kristen Roupenian (Kenya)

  You Know You Want This: “Cat Person” and Other Stories by Kristen Roupenian (Kenya 2003-05) Gallery/Scout Press 240 pages January 2019 $10.99 (hardcover), $14.99 (paperback), $11.99 (Kindle) • “Cat Person’s” author’s bad-date story and her date with fame By Meredith Goldstein Boston Globe December 29, 2018, 7:13 p.m.    Last December, writer Kristen Roupenian was sitting at Cultivate, a coffee shop in Michigan, with her girlfriend of a few months. It had been a big year for the Plymouth native, who’d finished her master of fine arts at the University of Michigan in April. Her short story “Cat Person ” had been accepted by The New Yorker (the dream of many aspiring fiction writers) and was now up on the magazine’s website. Just then Roupenian’s girlfriend, writer Callie Collins, checked her phone. Something strange was happening. “She used to work in publishing so she has more of a finger on the literary pulse . . .

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2020 Peace Corps Writers’ Rowland Sherman Award for Best Book of Photography — ALTAMONT 1969 by Bill Owens (Jamaica)

  Rowland Scherman was the first photographer for the Peace Corps in 1961, documenting the work of Volunteers all over the world. His photos helped define the image of the agency we know today. He became a freelance photographer in 1963. His photographs have appeared in Life, Look, National Geographic, Time, Paris Match, and Playboy among many others.     Altamont 1969 Bill  Owens (Jamaica 1964–66), photographer Damiani Publisher May 2019 $26.99 (Hardcover)     On April 15th of 2019, The New York Times published he following article about Bill and photographing at Altamont: “50 Years After Altamont: The End of the 1960s.”   50 Years After Altamont: The End of the 1960s A reluctant rock concert attendee, Bill Owens nevertheless photographed the disastrous 1969 music festival Altamont and the close of an era. A half-century ago, 1969 capped a radical, idealistic decade that saw the rise of the hippie generation and the . . .

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2020 Peace Corps Writers’ Maria Thomas Award for the Best Book of Fiction — WITH KENNEDY IN THE LAND OF THE DEAD by Will Siegel (Ethiopia)

  THE MARIA THOMAS FICTION AWARD, first presented in 1990, is named after the novelist Roberta Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73) whose pen name was Maria Thomas. Roberta lost her life in August 1989, while working in Ethiopia for a relief agency. She went down in the plane crash that also killed her husband, Thomas Worrick (Ethiopia 1971–73), and Congressman Mickey Leland of Texas. Mrs. Worrick’s novel, Antonia Saw the Oryx First, published by SoHo Press  . . . in 1987, drew critical praise for its depiction of the tensions between colonial whites and Africans on a continent buffeted by changes. After the success of the novel, Soho Press issued Come to Africa and Save Your Marriage, Mrs. Worrick’s collection of short stories in which she told of the difficulties of various people — Peace Corps Volunteers, foreign academics, Indians, American blacks and white hunters left behind by colonial empires — in finding . . .

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Peace Corps Writers Best Photography Award named in honor of Rowland Scherman

    Rowland Scherman was the Peace Corps’ first photographer beginning in 1961 traveling around the world documenting Volunteer’s lives and work. He was just beginning his career working for the Peace Corps as a photojournalist when the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) handed him an assignment in August of 1963: A civil rights march, they said. In Washington. Scherman didn’t realize that he’d been assigned to cover one of the most monumental events in U.S. history. But there was a catch: the photos wouldn’t belong to him, they would belong to USIA, whose purpose was to use media to help improve the United States’ image abroad. Nevertheless, he did his duty faithfully at the March on Washington on that hot August day, capturing the sandwich-makers and the children who arrived with their parents on school buses, as well as the celebrities who spoke from the podium. He shot from the top . . .

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