My first instinct here, asked to introduce the two nonfiction works I solicited as guest editor for Guernica’s December 1, 2008, issue, is to step aside and let the work speak for itself. That is almost always my first instinct, but in this case, it is certainly the best instinct, since the two works in question are both powerful and compelling.

To be brief, then: Marilyn Krysl, author and peace worker, documents the incredible year she spent as a volunteer unarmed bodyguard in Sri Lanka, a nation that has suffered under intermittent civil war for nearly a quarter century, in “Fire Inside.”

Ron Tanner, best known for his short fiction, writes of his experiences helping native residents preserve the oral tradition of the tiny Marshall Islands nation, once threatened by nuclear testing, and now at even greater risk from global warming, in “Preservation.”

Both of these essays remind us of the fragility of modern life. The truth, it must be said again and again, is a very powerful potion.

dintymoore72.jpgDinty Moore is a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship recipient and has guest taught creative nonfiction seminars across the United States and in Europe. In addition to editing the internet journal Brevity, he is on the editorial board of Creative Nonfiction and is coordinating editor for the anthology Best Creative Nonfiction. Moore teaches writing at Ohio University and serves on the Board of Directors of The Association of Writers & Writing Programs. His most recent book is the memoir Between Panic and Desire .

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