Peace Corps writers

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The Peace Corps Picks Up On Peace Corps Writers
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Talking with Matt Davis about His Peace Corps Book
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Malawi RPCV John Shannon Talks About "Palos Verdes Blue"
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RPCV Matt Davis From Mongolia Writes Memoir of Peace Corps Days
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The Genius of Moritz Thomsen
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Talking With China RPCV Mike Levy About His Book Kosher Dog Meat
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RPCV Allen Fletcher Publishes His Senegal Tales
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RPCV From Rwanda Wins Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry
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Young Writers Fiction Prize
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Better Remember This

The Peace Corps Picks Up On Peace Corps Writers

We are happy to see that the Peace Corps has finally followed the example of Peace Corps Writers (and now PeaceCorpsWorldWide.org) by interviewing Peace Corps writers. They have gotten around to interviewing Kris Holloway (Mali 1989-91) in their World Wise Schools section of www.peacecorps.gov. We interviewed Kris back in, I think, 2006. This interview by Amy Clark on the Peace Corps site is well done.  Take a look. By the way, trying to find World Wise Schools on their site is no easy task. Here’s the link to Kris’ intereview. http://www.peacecorps.gov/wws/stories/stories.cfm?psid=681

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Talking with Matt Davis about His Peace Corps Book

An interview by John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) At 23, in 2000, Matt Davis as a PCV went to a remote western Mongolian mountain town to teach English at a local college. What he found when he arrived was a town — and a country — undergoing change from a traditional, countryside existence to a more urban, modern identity. The story of his Peace Corps years is told in When Things Get Dark which is scheduled for publication in 2010. Matt’s book is not only about the Mongolians he meets but his own downward spiral into alcohol abuse and violence — a scenario he saw played out by many of the Mongolian men around him who were having a difficult time adjusting to the rapid change in society. Matt’s own struggles eventually culminate in a drunken fight with three Mongolian men that forces him to a Mongolian hospital to have his kidneys . . .

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Malawi RPCV John Shannon Talks About "Palos Verdes Blue"

[Reporter  Melissa Heckscher of the Daily Breeze newspaper  in California just published this article on RPCV mystery writer John Shannon that I thought you’d like to read.] John Shannon’s (Malawi 1965–67) latest mystery thriller, Palos Verdes Blue, is about a private detective who finds himself caught in a race-fueled turf war on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. John may specialize in fiction, but San Pedro-born novelist Shannon is as much a journalist as he is a mystery writer. To research each of his 11 Jack Liffey mystery novels, Shannon dove into the underbellies of Los Angeles, exploring topics ranging from the sex trade in Koreatown to the riots in South Central. So while his stories are fictional, their backdrops are often based on stark realities. “Almost all of my books have some underlying factual basis,” said Shannon, 65, whose most recent work turns the spotlight on the South Bay. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to keep . . .

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RPCV Matt Davis From Mongolia Writes Memoir of Peace Corps Days

Matt Davis (Mongolia 2000-02) stayed in-country for a year after his Peace Corps tour,  then returned home and found his way to Iowa’s famous writing program where in 2007 he earned an MFA in non-fiction. Matt recently sold his first book When Things Get Dark: A Mongolian Winter’s Tale to St. Martin’s Press. The book, he says, “is in large measure a memoir of my time as a PCV in the Mongolian countryside.” There is no firm publication date set, though it looks like the book will come out in early 2010.  Davis now is working on revisions and fact checking and living in Washington, D.C. and getting another masters, this time at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in DC. After finishing his MFA in the writing program at Iowa he had a fellowship where he worked for the International Writing Program in Iowa City. It was during this period that he became  interested in the idea of cultural . . .

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The Genius of Moritz Thomsen

A new publication from Quito, Ecuador, is out with a scholarly look at the writings of Moritz Thomsen (Ecuador 1965–67). It is the online publication LiberArte, from the Universidad de San Francisco de Quito. Contributors to LiberArte are primarily professors and students at the university. The journal, first published in January, 2005, features articles on literature, film, and critical trends in Ecuador. Last year there was a conference on Thomsen’s writing held in Quito. If you are interested in any reports from that conference, contact Martin Vega (vegamart@gmail.com) Martin also welcomes comments and critiques of Thomsen from those who knew him. I asked Martin if he knew Moritz and he said he didn’t, but that Alvaro Aleman, who heads up their journal, did know Moritz and often visited him in Guayaquil and spoke with him at length about authors and books. [Thomsen, for those who don’t know, died of cholera in Guayaquil, Ecuador on . . .

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Talking With China RPCV Mike Levy About His Book Kosher Dog Meat

Michael Levy (China 2005-07) today is a teacher at the expensive and fancy St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire. His writing has appeared in Adbusters, In These Times, and the Forward and will be featured in an upcoming anthology of writing from Peace Corps Volunteers, Peace Corps at Fifty: Anniversary Story Collection. I heard about his memoir of China entitled, Kosher Dog Meat and emailed him about his book. Here’s what he had to say. Mike, where are you from? I was born in Chicago, Illinois a few blocks from Wrigley Field.  My family moved to Philly shortly before my Bar Mitzvah, so I now have split loyalties.  A Cubs-Phillies playoff series is on my list of nightmares; I would be crushed either way. I went to college at Cornell, graduating in 1998. Ithaca is Gorges. Why did you join the Peace Corps in the first place? Ah. . .  a . . .

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RPCV Allen Fletcher Publishes His Senegal Tales

Sometimes it takes time to publish the book about the Peace Corps experience that you have always wanted to write. Such is the case with Allen Fletcher’s (Senegal 1969-71) collection of stories that he first penned some 30  years ago. He wrote them, as many other RPCVs have done, as “essentially a personal project” and now he has brought them out in a lovely edition. The book that he produced, with wonderful photos, can be obtained directly from Allen. Email him at: afletcher@wpltd.com. The book is entitled Heat, Sand, and Friends. It cost $15, plus $5 postage. The preface begins (and shows that Allen can write): “From 1969-71, courtesy of the remarkable institution called the Peace Corps, my wife Nina and I lived in the Senegalese village of N’Dondol, about 100 miles inland and about ten miles off the main road that extends east from Dakar all the way  into Mali.” Congratulations, Allen!

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RPCV From Rwanda Wins Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry

In 1994 the worst episode of genocide since the Holocaust of the Second World War ravaged the Central African country of Rwanda. Derick Burleson (Rwanda 1991-94)  taught at the National University during the two years leading up to the genocide. The poems in this collection entitled Ejo were published in 2000 by the University of Wisconsin Press. The poems explore the cataclysm in a variety of forms and voices through the culture, myths, and customs Derick absorbed during this time. “Ejo,” meaning “yesterday and tomorrow” in Kinyarwandan. . In 2000, Derick won the University of Wisconsin Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. This awarded is given annually to the best book-length manuscript of original poetry submitted in an open competition. The award is administered by the University of Wisconsin-Madison English department, and the winner is chosen by a nationally recognized poet.

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Young Writers Fiction Prize

Bard College in New York on the Hudson River is inviting submissions for its annual Fiction Prize for young published writers (under 39 years or younger at the time of application.) The prize is worth $30,000, plus the winner receives an appointment as writer-in-residence at Bard College for one semester. The writer does not have to teach, but will give at least one public lecture and will meet informally with students. To apply, RPCV writers should write a cover letter describing the project they plan to work on while at Bard and submit a C.V. along with three copies of the published book they feel best represents their work. Applications for the 2010 prize must be received by July 15, 2009. For further information about the Bard Fiction Prize, call 845.758.7087, or visit www.bard.edu/bfp.

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Better Remember This

The 1995 recipient of the Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award presented by PEACE CORPS WRITERS for the best short description of life in the Peace Corps. • Better Remember This by Meg Sullivan (Kenya 1992–94) YOU’D BETTER REMEMBER THIS. Because people will ask you. Whether you want them to or not, they’ll ask you how Africa was. And though you won’t know where to start, you’re going to have to have something to tell them. A shrug of the shoulders and “Good” won’t be enough. So you’d better remember this. Open the parts of your mind you need, and work them over until you’ve got them just right. Then put what you know in a place the will be easy for you to get to. Deep, but not too deep. Just enough so that even though no one else can see it, you know it’s there, and you can . . .

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