When the 25th Reunion of RPCVs took place in Washington, D.C. in 1986, I wanted a book store to sell the books written by RPCVs. I contacted Carla Cohen at her relatively new bookstore, Politics and Prose, up on Connecticut Avenue, and asked Carla if she would set up a table and sell books under the tent on the Mall at our reunion.
I was a nobody, our reunion was not important, but Carla loved the Peace Corps and she set up a table of books that I had recommended and featured Peace Corps writers for the very first time. Since then, Carla has always had a open door for Peace Corps writers. I have read in her famous book store, as as Norm Rush, Peter Hessler, Paul Theroux, Maureen Orth, Tony D’Souza and many, many others. Twice over the years I arranged Peace Corps readings at the store by Peace Corps writers. It always only took a telephone call to Carla and the magic words ‘Peace Corps writers’ to make the arrangement.
Times past and Carla and Barbaa Meade are selling the store and heading off to retirement. We know the store will continue–Washington, D.C., is a town full of readers–but these two grand women will be missed by all the friends they have made, by all the unknown writers they have featured.
And Peace Corps writers will miss them for this was a bookstore that valued our prose and poetry and the stories we had to tell. Politics and Prose always found a shelf for our novels, poems, and histories of the agency. Thank you, Barbara. Thank you, Carla. As we say in Amharic: betam amessegginallehu erdatawo keff yale no. (Thank you very much. Your help was great.)