Short Works by PC Writers

Short works by RPCVs that do not reference the Peace Corps experience.

1
A Writer Writes — “When I tried learning a second language while traveling, I realized I was doing it all wrong”
2
A Writer Writes — “Our Tax Dollars at Work” by William Siegel (Ethiopia)
3
A Writer Writes — “ERITREA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY – MAY 29” by John C. Rude (Ethiopia)
4
“Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi” (West Africa)
5
“A Game in the Sun” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)
6
A Writer Writes — “The Overwhelming Question” by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria)
7
Remembering Mexico Beach
8
Vanity Fair article by Maureen Orth (Colombia) on Colombia’s most-feared female revolutionary
9
A Writer Writes: “Digging to China” a short story by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)
10
“Bitter Vengeance: A Mystery Short Story” by Carole Sojka (Somali)

A Writer Writes — “When I tried learning a second language while traveling, I realized I was doing it all wrong”

 A Writer Writes     When I tried learning a second language while traveling, I realized I was doing it all wrong By Paulette Perhach (Paraguay 2008-10)  Published on Matador Network April 8, 2016 BEFORE WORKING IN THE PEACE CORPS in Paraguay for two years, I had never even heard of Guaraní. Guaraní is not in the Latin linguistic family tree I was familiar with. In fact, to my ears, this language sounded like it was from another planet. “Hello” is “mba’éichapa.” “Goodbye” is “jajotopata.” There are nasal harmonies and glottal stops. The “Yes” sounds like saying “he” for a long time, while holding your nose. Water is just spelled “y,” but it’s pronounced like the last sound of a drowning man. There’s just one word for “he” and “she,” but two words for “we.” And, oh yeah, by the way, nouns change depending on who owns them. “House” is just . . .

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A Writer Writes — “Our Tax Dollars at Work” by William Siegel (Ethiopia)

A Writer Writes     Our Tax Dollars At Work by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64) • I just moved from Boston to Washington DC. It feels like I walked on cobblestones most of the way, carrying my computer and a few hundred books. Otherwise, it’s fine. The weather’s good. I’m looking forward to less snow and more sunshine. There are many more city trees here than there. There are also many more bridges. In Boston, bridges tend to be utilitarian and future looking, with the exception of those crossing the Charles River, connecting to Cambridge, which still look like they were designed by Emerson. In Washington the bridges seem more stately and glide over parks and monuments adding to the mystery of the capital of the present day empire of the world. Somehow my wife and I landed in an apartment in the middle of the city. I think it . . .

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A Writer Writes — “ERITREA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY – MAY 29” by John C. Rude (Ethiopia)

    ERITREA’S INDEPENDENCE DAY – MAY 29 by John C. Rude (Ethiopia 1962-64) This week, on May 29, Eritrea celebrates its 28th anniversary as an independent nation. It will be the first independence celebration since Ethiopia’s reform-minded Prime Minister, Abiy Mohammed, announced a unilateral cessation of hostilities, less than a year ago, on July 9, 2018. This independence celebration may also mark the end of Eritrea’s long search for legitimacy. I happened to visit the country in 1992, shortly after Eritrea marked its first independence day. I shared the sadness of the people around me who mourned the war’s heavy sacrifices. Even so, I remember the first anniversary as a time of hoped-for new beginnings. I imagined the atmosphere in Eritrea to be comparable to the years after America won its independence from England in 1780. Then I realized that Eritrea came into being (as a colony, not a . . .

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“Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi” (West Africa)

    Ex Africa Semper Aliquid Novi Travel with Phillip LeBel (Ethiopia 1965–67) • In the July of 1968, I finished spending three and a half years as a secondary school history teacher in Emdeber, Shoa, Ethiopia. Two and a half years were as a Peace Corps Volunteer, while the third was as a contract teacher with the Ethiopian Ministry of Education. Having taught a cohort of students passing through the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth grades, it was now time to return to the United States. With a graduate fellowship in economics awaiting me in Boston, I took a somewhat meandering trip across Africa, tracing some paths I covered in 1965 while still in the Peace Corps, while others were a journey of exploration. It marked an abiding attachment to Africa that has shaped my professional career ever since. I had traveled to East Africa during the summer of . . .

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“A Game in the Sun” by John Coyne (Ethiopia)

    This collection of stories is drawn from various decades of my life, starting back when I was a high school student. It has recently been published by Cemetery Press and is available now at Amazon.com. I wrote stories and published them in high school, college and graduate school publications, but my first sale didn’t happen until I was 33 years old. In 1972, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine bought “A Game in the Sun” for $150 — the first money I ever earned from writing fiction. My apprenticeship as a novelist was even longer; I wrote seven before I finally got one published, in 1979. That was an occult-horror novel, The Piercing. I followed it up with half a dozen similar books, some of which made best seller lists. I have also written golf novels, love stories, non-fiction and one family saga. In this collection I’ve compiled 13 stories and entitled them A . . .

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A Writer Writes — “The Overwhelming Question” by Tony Zurlo (Nigeria)

  The Overwhelming Question By Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1963-65) • I grab the butt-ends of coffee spoons, roll up the bottoms of my trousers, drag my red wheel barrel along the shore, and dig for salt-washed shells tossed onto the sand; waves slap the shore, codes from lonely mermaids’ whispering. whistling winds from woods nearby wrinkles on the moon thirteen blackbirds observing. flashes from another world pillows of gray sky ancient gnarled oaks cast shadows. tear-drops squeezed from willow trees maelstrom of colors La Mer’s quarreling white caps Singing dolphins’ lure me out to dance. Leaves of grass float past effortlessly. Yes! the brain is wider than the sky and I dare disturb the universe, incite another Big Bang, hurl stars and spin the moon like a top; hunt white whales with Ahab in the South Pacific. • This poem originally appeared at andreazurlo.wixsite.com/andreazurlo/blog   Tony Zurlo (Nigeria 1963-65) is . . .

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Remembering Mexico Beach

  Patricia Taylor Edmisten (Peru 1962-64) first happened upon Mexico Beach in 1975 on her way to interview at the University of South Alabama in Mobile. She had just finished her doctorate at the University of Florida in Gainesville. In 1977, she moved to Pensacola in “Florida’s Great Northwest,” where she taught at the University of West Florida until retirement. During her family’s time in Florida’s western Panhandle, there were many family reunions on St. George Island, a gorgeous sweep of barrier island off of Apalachicola, not far from Mexico Beach. Patricia remembers . . . •   Mexico Beach Hurricane Michael flattened Mexico Beach in Florida’s eastern Panhandle on October 10, 2018. Was it a fluke in the temperature of the Gulf? A nudge from a high pressure system from the north? God’s unleashed breath, punishment for a covey of sinners living in recreational vehicles back from the beach? Until the . . .

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Vanity Fair article by Maureen Orth (Colombia) on Colombia’s most-feared female revolutionary

She was Colombia’s most-feared female revolutionary. Can she help it find peace?   As one of the few women FARC commanders, Elda Neyis Mosquera, also known as “Karina,” has confessed to a host of barbarous crimes—including forcing abortions on her own soldiers. Now that peace has broken out, she is helping to give voice to the history of entrenched sexual violence against women in the movement. by Maureen Orth (Colombia 1964-66) Vanity Fair September 2018 • Ex–guerrilla commander Elda Neyis Mosquera, known by her nom de guerre Karina, under house arrest at a 17th Brigade army base in northwestern Colombia. Her nom de guerre was Karina, but her given name—the name she goes by now—is Elda Neyis Mosquera. She was the youngest of five children born in northwestern Colombia to Jose Leopoldino Mosquera, a black man, and Flor Ester García, a white woman. Neither ever learned how to read. From the . . .

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A Writer Writes: “Digging to China” a short story by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay)

    Digging to China by Mark Jacobs (Paraguay 1978-80)   A feeling of déjà vu nagged Hunter Durrell as he crossed the Xaneria lot. It seemed like a dumb thing to be feeling. Of course he had been there before. Twice a day for three years, going to and coming from the cube farm. Then it hit him. Spring. The smell of turned over earth. Dogwood blossoms. A trace scent of last night’s rain. In the sky-blue distance, a tractor downshifted, and Hunter’s eyes teared. He had forgotten the world, and here it was forgiving him, reminding him it was still there. He had to get out more. Inside the cube farm, breathing institutional air, he was ambushed by Prudence raising a pallid hand as she rolled her chair into the aisle. “Stop in the name of Howard Roark.” Prudence needed to get out more, too. And quit dreaming in . . .

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“Bitter Vengeance: A Mystery Short Story” by Carole Sojka (Somali)

      Carole Sojka (Somali 1962-64) is the author of two mystery novels set in Florida featuring a female police detective named Andi Battaglia and her male partner, Greg Lamont — A Reason to Kill, and So Many Reasons to Die. She has also published a stand-alone mystery novel, Psychic Damage, set in Southern California. She has had a number of short stories published in various venues and is also on the board of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles. You can read her most recent story, “Bitter Vengeance ” at Kings River Life.  

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