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Peace Corps Writers Award

January 30, 2023

Travels and Ghosts: The 2022 Peace Corps Writers Awards

The people’s writer, love and marriage spats in Kazakhstan, mountain gorillas in Rwanda, a C-section by flashlight in Paraguay, and an epic journey by bicycle   We make sense of the world and our interwoven lives through stories. Some of these find form years later as books — and they’ve launched more than a few literary careers. In 1989, returned Volunteers Marian Haley Beil and John Coyne embarked on a project that has evolved into the digital Peace Corps Worldwide, an affiliate group of National Peace Corps Association. They also founded Peace Corps Writers, publishing books by authors in the Peace Corps community. In 2022...

January 29, 2023

An Accidental Stumble

Taking Stock of two decades of work by Tom Bissell. In 2022, Peace Corps Writers recognized him as the Writer of the Year. By Steven Boyd Saum Tom Bissell photo courtesy Penguin Random House   It was at the Downtown Bookfest in Los Angeles that I met Tom Bissell half a dozen years ago. Along with celebrating “Literary LA: Places, Spaces, and Faces” and the independent book scene, some of us read tributes to writers the community had lost in the past year—poets and fictioneers, tellers of true stories and writers of screenplays. I found myself talking with Bissell about a living...

April 22, 2022

Experience and Empathy

The most recent Peace Corps Writers awards: love in Peru, the world’s biggest owl, a murder trial in Tanzania, and the lifetime contributions of a novelist whose characters meet racism with courage and love Photo: Persian man smoking. From The Face of Iran Before by photographer Dennis Briskin   BAKED INTO THE MISSION of the whole Peace Corps experience is the work of telling stories: of listening, catching, giving voice and shape and form with a sense of fidelity to people and place, and having an awareness of audience. Nurturing stories from the Peace Corps community in words and images can be a...

January 26, 2021

The Stories We Tell

Dreams and disillusionment. A 3,000-mile ultramarathon and a library in a Mayan village. Catching up with books recognized with the Peace Corps Writers Awards.   Baked into the mission of the whole Peace Corps experience is the work of telling stories: of listening, catching, giving voice and shape and form with a sense of fidelity to people and place, and an awareness of audience. Nurturing stories from the Peace Corps community in words and images can be a way to foster understanding and empathy, stuff lately in short supply. Back in 1989, returned Volunteers John Coyne and Marian Haley Beil launched a print...