Short Works by PC Writers

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

1
Dead Calm by Carole Sojka (Somalia 1962-64)
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“Development Is Down This Road” by Abigail Calkins Aguirre (Cameroon)
3
A Christmas in Cinco Pinos by Jim Graham (Nicaragua 1970-71)
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Ancient Fire by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)
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Just One Small Tattoo by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)
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The Grownup Train by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)
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Punch by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)
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Gypsy Street by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)
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Ben East (Malawi 1996-98) Green
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Thelma Firestone’s Daughter by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)

Dead Calm by Carole Sojka (Somalia 1962-64)

This short story by Carole Sojka takes place in Kenya in the early sixties. As Carole wrote me, “My husband and I were Peace Corps Volunteers in the Somali Republic from 1962 to 1964. We were with the first Somalia group. There were, I think, seven other Peace Corps groups sent to the Republic  before the coup in 1969 that sent the country hurtling into its current state of chaos. I taught English in the secondary school in Merca, a town about forty miles south of the capital, Mogadiscio, where the language before independence was Italian. My husband taught English to the local officials, i.e., the D.C., the police chief, the harbor master. He also took photographs for the Ministry of Tourism. It was a hopeful time in Somalia. “The story of ‘Dead Calm’ came from an experience my husband and I had on a train trip in Uganda in . . .

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“Development Is Down This Road” by Abigail Calkins Aguirre (Cameroon)

[Winner of the 1992 Peace Corps Experience Award was this excellent essay by Abigail Calkins Aguirre (Cameroon 1987-90) entitled, “Development Is Down This Road.” Peace Corps writing and remembering doesn’t get much better than this.] • A Writer Writes: Development Is Down This Road by Abigail Calkins Aguirre (Cameroon 1987-90) FEW RECOGNIZE ME without my trademark Suzuki. Now I have this red Yamaha DT they gave me to replace it. I’m still white, though, or so they keep insisting as I pass by the shouting voices trying to get me to stop to do a favor, chat, or taste the latest in palm wine. I know I have a bike, but how do you say “I’m not a taxi” in the local language? I’m late, I’m in a hurry, I’ve got to help a women’s group plant rows of plantains and pineapple in their community farm. This road could jostle my . . .

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A Christmas in Cinco Pinos by Jim Graham (Nicaragua 1970-71)

Jim Graham was in Nicaragua (1970-71) and returning home he did everything from working construction to being a newspaper sports editor, then he got involved in electronics and ran two companies in the industry. Today he lives in Winter Garden, Florida. Of his writing, Jim says: When President Kennedy introduced the Peace Corps I was excited.  The year before having visited Peru with a student exchange program I was enamored with Spanish culture. I graduated from Stetson University with a degree in English Literature in 1969. The next year I joined one of the first Peace Corps units to go into Nicaragua, Central America.  In 1970 and ’71 we working in the “promotion and development” of rural electric cooperatives, our assignment. I was stationed on a large mountain in Northern Nicaragua near the border with Honduras. Two days before Christmas 1972 a massive earthquake destroyed 75% of Managua, the capitol . . .

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Ancient Fire by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)

[Will Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64) is a writer living now in Boston. I recently published on this site two stories written by Will that are set in New York City at the time of the fifties/sixties-era folk-music revival, the time that is portrayed in the  film, Inside Llewyn Davis. Will, like many PCVs who were overseas at the time of Kennedy’s assassination, are haunted by those days when we were all outside the ‘family’ when death came to our president. Will solved that problem by writing a novel about Kennedy. What follows is the first chapter of Kennedy in the Land of the Dead. I asked Will to write and tell us how his book came to be.] I wrote this chapter a number of years after Kennedy’s death trying to recreate the tenor of feelings that came up for me that day as well as some of the remembered thoughts and . . .

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Just One Small Tattoo by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)

Chris Honore’ was born in occupied Denmark, during WWII. After the war, he immigrated to America. He went to public schools and then attended San Jose State University and the University of California, at Berkeley, where he earned a teaching credential, an M.A. and a Ph.D. After teaching high school English for two years, he joined the Peace Corps. He’s a freelance journalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His wife owns a bookstore on Main Street. His son is a cinematographer, living in Southern California. • JUST ONE SMALL TATTOO by Chris Honore’ The shoulder in question? Smooth as a baby’s bottom. Unblemished, lightly tanned and oh so nice. That would be Jenny’s shoulder. The one I’d fallen in love with. And, of course, all that was attached thereto. Jenny and I were lying on the grass in the park across the street from our high school, me on my stomach, . . .

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The Grownup Train by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)

Chris Honore’ was born in occupied Denmark, during WWII. After the war, he immigrated to America. He went to public schools and then attended San Jose State University and the University of California, at Berkeley, where he earned a teaching credential, an M.A. and a Ph.D. After teaching high school English for two years, he joined the Peace Corps. He’s a freelance journalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His wife owns a bookstore on Main Street. His son is a cinematographer, living in Southern California. • THE GROWNUP TRAIN by Chris Honore’ They stood on the train platform, eyes narrowed, bodies angled to the right, looking down the track, waiting. A train had just passed through. Another would be along shortly. They were hardcore, their posture and dress conveying a self-conscious, determined insouciance: shoulders hunched, knees slightly bent, baggy denim shorts riding precariously low on their hips, their hair a shag . . .

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Punch by Chris Honore’ (Colombia 1967-69)

Chris Honore’ was born in occupied Denmark, during WWII. After the war, he immigrated to America. He went to public schools and then attended San Jose State University and the University of California, at Berkeley, where he earned a teaching credential, an M.A. and a Ph.D. After teaching high school English for two years, he joined the Peace Corps. He’s a freelance journalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His wife owns a bookstore on Main Street. His son is a cinematographer, living in Southern California. • PUNCH by Chris Honore’ For a time, my family and I lived in Watson, a small farming town in California’s Central Valley — flat, nondescript, a sepia photograph slightly out of focus. Everyday I walked to school and back along dusty, rutted roads bordered by wide irrigation ditches usually filled with green-brown water. The water was controlled by a series of concrete locks that could . . .

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Gypsy Street by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)

[This is the second in a series of short stories written by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64). Will’s stories are about the folk ‘scene’ in Greenwich Village in the Sixties and Seventies. Will wrote me that the character of his story, Harold Childe, is based on Phil Ochs who took his own life by hanging in 1976, and that the original title for “Gypsy Street” was “The Last Days of Phil Ochs.” With the passing of Pete Seeger it is perhaps time to pause and recall that time in our lives. To put us in the mood, here’s “Gypsy Street,” Will’s story of life in the Village that he knew so well when he was preforming as folksinger Will Street.] Gypsy Street by William Siegel Near the end of the third winter Floyd and Dwain spent in Greenwich Village, disappointment and frustration drove them like a horse and carriage to a . . .

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Ben East (Malawi 1996-98) Green

[Ben East taught English in Malawi before taking up various teaching and diplomatic assignments with the state department in West Africa, the Middle East, and throughout the Americas.  A native of Connecticut, he recently returned to the States after nearly two decades overseas.  He lives in Virginia with his wife (also a Malawi RPCV) and two sons, and is working on his third novel.  His fiction has appeared in The Foreign Service Journal, Atticus Review, and Umbrella Factory Magazine. Of Green Ben writes, “The story got its start in the deep sense of loneliness and isolation I felt on a rainy afternoon tucked away in the bush, no mail, no friendly voices, not even a stick of dry firewood to cook my oats — Jungle Oats — for which I had as seasoning only Rajah curry powder.  That loneliness, the sense of adventure that inspired me to seek it, and the wonderful discoveries of . . .

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Thelma Firestone’s Daughter by William Siegel (Ethiopia 1962-64)

[For all of us of a certain age, seeing the new film Inside Llewyn Davis brings us back to those years and the romance of living in New York City and on the edge of society as we tried to make our way as writers, artists, and folksingers. Within the ranks of the Peace Corps, we have a few very successful professional writers and a few really good guitar players, and one of them, Will Siegel, not only played the guitar professionally, but he is also a successful writer and editor. Will Siegel went to Greenwich Village after his Peace Corps (Ethiopia 1962-64) tour, playing in and hung out at the clubs made famous by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and now dramatized in this new movie featuring a character named Llewyn Davis. In his time in the village, Will performed as “Will Street” at Gerde’s Folk City and The . . .

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