Author - John Coyne

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Why did you join the Peace Corps?
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Down on the Farm (pun intended)
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Brazaitis Speaks Many Languages
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Back on the Farm
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First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria
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Review — GLEN by Richard Fordyce (Ghana)
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RPCV receives presidental appointment
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RPCV Poet Ron Singer To Read in NYC
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Great Peace Corps Writers!
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Bait & Switch with the Peace Corps

Why did you join the Peace Corps?

People are still asking that question as we approach the half century of the agency. Back in May of 1966, Joseph Colman, who was then the Acting Associate Director of the Peace Corps for Planning, Evaluation, and Research published a paper in the Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Sciences and Marian Beil recently asked if I knew about it. I tracked down a copy of Colman’s paper that reports on several studies of motivation for joining the agency, based on a 1962 study of 2,612 applications’ replies to a motivational question on the application form; a 1963 interview study of why people who apply later decline a specific invitation to enter training; and a 1964 interview study of college series’ interest in the Peace Corps. Colmen’s paper concludes that Volunteers can be successful in the Peace Corps with a variety of motivations for joining. Well, no . . .

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Down on the Farm (pun intended)

BOOK REVIEW Dominic Cibrario (Nepal 1962-64) is one of the many RPCVs who are publishing their novels as PODs. He sent it to me a few months ago and I’m happy to be able to showcase Tucker Clark who also served in Nepal, review the novel about farm life in Wisconsin. Secrets of the Family Farm by Dominic Cibrario (Nepal 1962-64) Booksurge, 2008 Reviewed by W. Tucker Clark (Nepal 1967-70) It was puzzling to me why John Coyne asked me to review this book. It was written by someone I had never heard of from the first Peace Corps Volunteer to Nepal. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about writers, particularly about India and the Peace Corps (thanks to this wonderful webizine), but Dominic Cibrario was new to me. I recently found myself too busy with the Presidential race to start Dominic Cibrario’s self-published paperback, but I knew I had to . . .

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Brazaitis Speaks Many Languages

BOOK REVIEW Mark Brazaitis who is an award winning short story writer as well as a fine novelist also writes poetry, and here another award winning RPCV poet, Phil Dacey, writes a review of Mark’s latest collection. The Other Language: Poems by Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala, 1991–93) ABZ Poetry Press 2009 Reviewed by Philip Dacey (Nigeria 1963–65) I wish Mark Brazaitis had been chosen to present the Presidential inaugural poem instead of Elizabeth Alexander, whose lackluster effort probably won few converts to poetry and disappointed most poets I know.  Brazaitis, on the other hand, would have told a story rich in character and resplendent with language that while familiar — not straining to be poetic — nevertheless rose to the level of memorable song, precisely what was needed on January 20th.  As he writes at the very end of the book: “I don’t know her nor she me. / Today this . . .

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Back on the Farm

BOOK REVIEW A few years ago Professor of Economics at George Mason University,  Carrie Meyer, went home to the Midwest and stumbled upon a cardboard box of diaries kept by her grandmother. She turned them into a history lesson, love letter, and wonderful story. Days on the Family Farm: From the Golden Age to the Great Depression by Carrie A. Meyer (Dominican Republic 1980–83) University of Minnesota Press 2007 Reviewed by M. Susan Hundt-Bergan (Ethiopia 1966-68) In 2000, Carrie Meyer’s family stumbled upon a cardboard box of diaries in their grandmother’s attic in Guilford Township, Illinois.  Most of these diaries were kept by May Lyford Davis, their grandfather’s cousin’s wife, about her life on the very farm where Carrie Meyer had grown up.  Out of these diary notations, Ms. Meyer, an economist at George Mason University, has crafted the story of May and Elmo Davis, their lives and that of . . .

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First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria

BOOK REVIEW First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria:  How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life written by Eve Brown-Waite (Ecuador 1988) generated a publisher’s bidding war and an advance of six-figures. If nothing else, it proved that a Peace Corps book (other than one by Paul Theroux) could make money. It is reviewed here (before publication) by Jan Worth-Nelson (Tonga 1976–78) who didn’t get malaria in Tonga when she was a PCV, but who eventually married the man she first met as a PCV, and who wrote a great mystery novel about a murder in the Peace Corps, a tale out of Tonga, entitled, Night Blind. First Comes Love, then Comes Malaria: How a Peace Corps Poster Boy Won My Heart and a Third World Adventure Changed My Life By Eve Brown-Waite (Ecuador 1988-89) EveBrownWaite.com Broadway Books 2009 Reviewed by . . .

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Review — GLEN by Richard Fordyce (Ghana)

  Glen: A Novel by Richard Fordyce (Ghana 1978-80) iUniverse, Inc. 2008 318 pages $18.95 (paperback) Reviewed by Lawrence F. Lihosit (Honduras, 1975-77) • The Peace Corps has no library. Even the Washington office does not have a single book shelf to treasure the work of its dedicated staff and volunteers who returned home to fulfill the Peace Corps’ third goal, to educate. There are some one thousand known examples, yet not one official collection, not even in the Library of Congress! So, buy Richard Fordyce’s historical novel while it is available. Do not wait to check out a library copy because there is no Peace Corps library. Buy it now. Don’t steal it. Like William Somerset Maugham’s Razor’s Edge, the author explores an era (1950–1980) by using a confused war veteran as the protagonist. In Maugham’s book set during an eleven year lull between world wars, the protagonist journeys . . .

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RPCV receives presidental appointment

RPCV Jeffrey Crowley (Swaziland 1989-91) was appointed by President Obama on Thursday to head the White House Office of National AIDS Policy (ONAP). Crowley, is a former officer of the National Association of People with AIDS (NAPWA) and a current research scholar at the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute. Crowley earned a master’s degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University. As deputy executive director for programs at NAPWA, he worked on both the National HIV Testing Day campaign and the Ryan White National Youth Conference. He is openly gay. As far as I know, this is the first appointment by President Obama of an RPCV to a political position.

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RPCV Poet Ron Singer To Read in NYC

Ron Singer (Nigeria 1964-67) will be part of a poetry reading at the Celebration of Small Press Month and the Release of Poetic Voices Without Borders 2 on Wednesday, March 18, 2009, at 6:30 PM. It is being held at The New York Center for Independent Publishing,  20 West 44th St. (between 5th & 5th Avenues). Poetic Voices Without Borders 2, is an international anthology featuring more than 150 poets, including Philip Levine, Rita Dove, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye and Ron Singer.  Since his Peace Corps days, Ron has written poetry, fiction, satire, journalism about Africa , and librettos for two operas. His essay-review on The Caine Prize for African Writing appeared in the Summer 2007 Georgia Review, and a second printing of his chapbook, A Voice for My Grandmother (Ten Penny Players), was issued in Fall 2007. Check Ron out at: www.ronsinger.net.

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Great Peace Corps Writers!

I was struck the other day when I got an email from an RPCV who wanted to know if I was the “most famous” of all the Peace Corps writer. Hello? “Hardly,” I wrote back. I’m not even on that list of writers. So, just in case people don’t know the many, many fine, award-winning writers who served in the Peace Corps, here is a list of the talented and best known of the corps of writer — and one of their books — who once served as Volunteers. And last but not least — Besides RPCVs, a number of members of the staff of the Peace Corps have written major novels and works of non-fiction. Among them: The writers from the Peace Corps also have won almost every major prize of literature, including the National Book Award (Norm Rush & Bob Shacochis); PEN/Faulkner Award (Richard Wiley); American Book Award . . .

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Bait & Switch with the Peace Corps

For twenty plus years, Congress has been voting to double the size of the Peace Corps. They vote yes, then they don’t vote (on a separate bill) to fund the increase. Bait and switch. Whatever hope there is to increase the number of Peace Corps Volunteers serving overseas must come from the top, from the president. I hope (and expect) that  our new president will double its number. What is important is not that the Peace Corps is bigger, but that more Americans have the opportunity to serve others in other lands, and that host country nationals learn ‘up close and personal’ what Americans are really like. Peace Corps Volunteers are a different breed of Americans. They come into a village or community and live at the level of the people. They learn the language and they learn the host culture. They unpack their bags and they stay for two years. They become . . .

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