It was all we had hoped for. We packed Busboys and Poets in Washington DC, our launch venue, to capacity with an eager audience of 85. John Coyne from Peace Corps Worldwide sent a roving reporter, Steve Kaffen (RPCV Russia – 1994-96), to document the event. Please click HERE to view his wonderful write-up.
Many of us had worked together over the past 2 years but never met each other until that afternoon. Some of us traveled across the continent for this special weekend of FOL events. Hugs were in order, reminiscing began, and group photos were taken. A rolling slideshow before the launch warmed us up before the program began.
As emcee for the event, I listed the statistics and accomplishments that we completed to publish this anthology in under 2 years. Our journey began during the complete COVID lockdown and well into the epidemic restrictions.
|Over 100 people were involved in the anthology||We conducted five 2-part virtual Writing Workshops|
|One University Intern (Dontae McFadden for 3 months)||Six different committee and subcommittees were formed|
|99 stories/poems submitted – 63 selected||Stories depicted are from 1959-2021 (62 years)|
|50 Authors in the anthology||Age range of authors – 27 to 96 years old|
|Authors are from 23 states||Plus three foreign countries (UK, Canada and Liberia)|
|Over 70% of are first-time published authors||Work was conducted over seven time zones|
The program progressed with heartfelt readings from 11 authors accompanied by slides and location maps. Laughter ensued, tears flowed, photos were taken and the video rolled.
A surprise ending rounded out the event with a song written and sung by Eddie Socker, RPCV 2018-2019. The words to his song “Dusty Road” are included below.
Going down a dusty road with no one else behind me All things packed inside my bag strapped to the motorbike behind me I'm going to a place I have been before but the trip is long and the road is poor, and the sun is hot The wind rolls fast across my head. We leave the dust to settle in the distance. The sun grows hot as the day gets long, and marks my skin with its persistence. I don't know if I prefer the rainy season or the heat that comes without a reason Bringing the dust The motorbike I’m riding is running down the road Everyone that we pass by is waving to say hello I know that I will soon be home sitting on my porch But for now, I have to wait, it's just a matter of course. Bouncing around along the road swerving around the potholes. Passing by a few derelict cars just sitting there like lost souls And though the mud is gone you can see the place where it used to be Like a scar on a face. The motorbike I’m riding is running down the road Everyone that we pass by is waving to say hello I know that I will soon be home sitting on my porch But for now, I have to wait, it's just a matter of course. A cloud of dust from a passing car blinds our sight and makes us cough Passing around another motorbike carrying three extra people and a bag of rice Running down this dusty road going to a place that I call home...Liberia The motorbike I’m riding is running down the road Everyone that we pass by is waving to say hello I know that I will soon be home sitting on my porch But for now, I have to wait, it's just a matter of course.
I was speechless (a rarity) when I was given a standing ovation at the end of the program for my efforts as the chief editor. This project and the anthology was a great honor and achievement and I made so many new FOL friends in the process. Thanks to everyone involved including the authors, committee members, workshop attendees, and a big applause to co-editors, Susan Corbett and Karen E. Lange who worked diligently on this challenging project.
We concluded with what resembled a Year Book signing as each person holding a book had authors sign their piece. What a fun way to circulate. Click on the video link taken my Merrie Need with the assistance of Curran Roller. It is converted to YouTube for your convenience. https://youtu.be/hkRGpbExIGA. Thank you, Merrie and Curran, so much.
But most importantly, our commitment to this worthy project will make a difference as all proceeds will benefit humanitarian programs in Liberia.
Feel free to forward this blog on to friends and family. Please sign up for my website to receive blogs many that will pertain to Liberia and our anthology. I will be posting more about our the other DC events. So more to come.
I welcome your reply comments below. Let me know what you think. If you want to buy this book, click HERE. Think about those holiday and special gifts you want to send out. This book is perfect.