Our Peace Corps tours have been great experiences. Many RPCVs have felt an urge to capture in prose and poetry that experience. Over the years I have been amazed by the wonderful stories and insights that have come out of our two years as Volunteers in the developing world. We have all benefited in our lives from those years. I am also amazed by the insightful and heartfelt slices of history of these nations written by RPCVs. Everyone’s story is uniquely different and there are many tales to tell by RPCVs.
But telling one’s story is not easy. It takes time, dedication, and many drafts.
All of the published writers we have gathered for our September Workshop have not had the same experience in writing their stories. They have told their Peace Corps experiences in poems, short stories, essays, memoirs, and in novels. One writer I know took twenty-five years to put his tale down on paper. Other RPCVs have finished book length accounts within months of coming home.
There are many paths to writing what you want to say.
What counts is that you tell your story.
Our September Workshop is an opportunity to work on your story, share it with other writers, and gain insights and ideas on how to finish your creative journey.
The focus of the Workshop is your story. The faculty will work individually with you, and everyone will share their work.
It will be done in these ways:
Prior to the session, in early September, all of the authors will submit approximately twenty pages by email to me. I will forward your work to the faculty and other writers, so that we can read the material and be prepare to discuss your writing when we reach the Eastern Shore. Your work will be shared in general sessions and all writers will meet individually with at least two of the faculty members and discuss in detail what you have written.
All of the writers will also read aloud, for approximately ten minutes, a section of their work to the group. These readings will take place over three days.
Every morning, one of the faculty members will give a short presentation–and respond to questions–of one aspect of writing: research, writing, finding an agent, getting published, publicizing your work.
There will be two main sessions during the day, each two hours long.
Evenings will be for dinner ‘off campus’, relaxation, trips to Eastern Shores sites, and
telling tales of …”when I was in …….”
Breakfast and lunch will be ‘on campus’.
Dinner and evenings out will be on our own.
The Workshop is already half full. Apply soon if you wish to attend. Write firstname.lastname@example.org
The workshop will be held from Wednesday, September 18th to Saturday, September 21rd at Shore Retreats on Broad Creek, on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, Maryland. Costs range from $100 for those on tight budgets, $250 for those of modest means, and $500 for those who can afford it. The retreat facility includes shared living quarters, meals, and snacks.
Marnie Mueller (Ecuador 1963-65) was born in the Tule Lake Japanese American Segregation Camp. She is the author of three novels: Green Fires, The Climate of the Country, and My Mother’s Island. She is a recipient of an American Book Award, the Maria Thomas Award for Outstanding Fiction, Gustavus Myers Outstanding Book Award, New York Public Library Best Books for the Teenage, a New York Times Book Review New and Noteworthy in Paperback, and a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” choice. Her short stories, poetry, and essays have been widely published in magazines and anthologies. She is currently at work on a hybrid memoir/biography about her friendship with a Nisei showgirl who was incarcerated during WWII.
Jeanne D’Haem (Somalia 1968-70) is an emeritus professor at William Paterson University and frequently lectures on issues in special education. She has published two prize-winning books and numerous journal articles. The Last Camel won the Paul Cowan prize for non-fiction. Desert Dawn, with Waris Dirie, has been translated into over twenty languages and was on the best seller list in Germany for over a year. It was awarded the Corine prize for non-fiction. Her most recent book is Inclusion: The Dream and the Reality inside Special Education.
Eleanor Stanford (Cape Verde 1998-2000) is the author of História, História: Two Years in the Cape Verde Islands that won the 2014 Peace Corps Writers Moritz Thomsen Peace Corps Experience Award. She is also the author of three books of poetry, The Imaginal Marriage, Bartram’s Garden, and The Book of Sleep, all from Carnegie Mellon University Press. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, and many others. She won a National Endowment for the Arts grant for 2019, and was a 2014/2016 Fulbright fellow to Brazil, where she researched and wrote about traditional midwifery. She lives in the Philadelphia area.
Mark Brazaitis (Guatemala 1991-93) is the author of eight books, including The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala, winner of the 1998 Iowa Short Fiction Award, The Incurables: Stories, winner of the 2012 Richard Sullivan Prize and the 2013 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Prose, and Julia & Rodrigo, winner of the 2012 Gival Press Novel Award. His latest book, The Rink Girl: Stories, won the 2018 Prize Americana (Hollywood Books). He wrote the script for the award-winning Peace Corps film How Far Are You Willing to Go to Make a Difference? He is a professor of English at West Virginia University.
John Coyne (Ethiopia 1962-64) has published 28 books of fiction and non-fiction. A collection of his short stories Game in the Sun, was published in January 2019 by Cemetery Dance Publications. His Peace Corps novel, Long Ago and Far Away was published in 2014. Today he is an adjunct professor in the MFA Creative Writing program of National University of California and the editor of www.peacecorpsworldwide.org He is also the founder of the non-profit Peace Corps Fund that is funding this Writer’s Workshop.