Welcome to the personal blog and all-purpose writing emporium from J.R. West. My professional writing encompasses 10 years as a copywriter for Apple and as many years working on creative projects and poetry of my own.

I hope you enjoy the sampling of my creative work you find here, as well as my ongoing blog about writing and being a professional writer of ever-changing persuasions.

Sincerely,

– J.R. West

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Curious Monkeys

9780590020435_mres

Curiosity is required to be any good. Even if you are just licking stamps. Without curiosity… you’re just licking stamps! LOL. And so, perhaps curiosity is the only antidote to the mundane. What else could transform something like a boring drawer filled with tupperware into something more?

If you’re not curious about the world, you’ll certainly not add anything new to it—just stale air and thoughts that only require standard postage to send. Which is fine. We’re all inescapably part of a larger system, curious or not. But I don’t wonder so much what is in your cabinets. That is, if you’re not the curious sort. And to be sure, the curiosity in good writing is something akin to peering into someone’s cabinets (something we’ve all done innocently enough).

Perhaps Prometheus was just a curious novelist who’s liver and pages were torn daily for stealing from the Gods’ pantry. Poor chap. Ah well, he’s brought us the good fortune and inevitable technology with which to build our own cabinets!

Promethius’s story reminds me of Curious George. I remember a favorite writing professor who told us he would never read his children Curious George stories. Because their moral is always “Don’t be curious!” So, thank you Mr. Cook, your curiosity carries through me still. And should you have nothing better to do than write or go snooping through real or imagined drawers and shelves today, I humbly submit this as an odd thing you might enjoy to find. Happy searching, you curious monkeys.

A Curious Place

Dear friends,

It brings me an infinity of joy
to open your cabinets.

Wherein I’ve seen the order of things,
especially in that cosmic place of containers:
little plastic boxes within a box, within your house,

within this box of a planet…
I’ll not labor it further.
Oh but I must wonder
what tired worlds those Tupperware
must themselves inevitably

contain! The golden ratio and fractal
awesomeness of all creation demand it —
which like Prometheus I trespassed to observe
there, neatly tucked   away-and-placed
by your, no, surely God’s stern hands,
who’s digits might have just preferred
I keep shut such doors and kindly
take my things and leave.

 

 

P.S. I stole a lid (and left a match).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Winter and Stone

IMG_9265

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it”

Robert Frost, “Mending Wall” 

I took this photo of a stone wall near the top of hill a few miles away. I’d been out walking on a bitterly cold day and I stopped to capture the texture of the snow shellac’d onto the stone.

And it occurs to me now: the importance of stone walls to these parts in times past. Now they are a fancy catch for snow and window dressing for a field. But they represent such toil and intention from the farmers who settled here. To pull stones from the Earth and place them so they still stand for future generations always has significance, whether they form circles, temples, or fences. I wonder what we might learn by pondering them. And while as Robert Frost says “something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” I find nothing but love in them — the love with which they have been formed and the hope of a way of life that might bring security in a largely unknown and often hostile world. Yet what security can we ever really find amongst such larger forces as nature has in store for us or the ground swell of modern progress?

In the spirit of hope (and thus love) that has so often brought our ancestors to lift and order stones into useful and symbolic forms across our planet, I offer this related poem I wrote near some Aztec ruins in Mexico some months ago. It’s a poem about love and the similar intention we humans put into all things we hope will last forever.

 

Of Love and Stone

Into this far place
I’ve walked for days,
Yet I am still
Within the embracing arms of your absence
Clasped with questions like delicate and familiar fingers
Holding me silently and entirely
As I look towards the horizon of my yearning.

Where I stand
Stones of every empire
Surround me
Temples Birthed from this land
With such hard surfaces
Preventing my footprints while
Depicting the softer things in this and other lives:
Bounty
Goddesses of wind and rain
And victory—
All things we have seen in each other.

There’s some kind of love here
In these stones
And in us
Solid and formed by even greater strengths
Than mortar and conquest
Something still alive
That just won’t let go
And which keeps holding me
And asking…

What megaliths will I build
And adorn
The sacred hills of our love with?

What quarry will supply
Our fortifications against foreign gods and men?

And with what strength
Will I enslave the weaker parts of our union?

Will our chosen worship at the altars we decree and manifest?

Will we, in the future generations of our hours and minutes,
Inherit and return to some relic or
Sun-bleached column
And look up from our lower places
And be inspired
By what still holds true
Through time and stone
To be yet alive, in us.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Day 2 – Wild Apples

On my first walk in these snowy Catskill woods, I wandered by an Apple tree. And some never-ripened fruit hung mummified by the cold, turning the skin to a dusky red. Snow capped their tops and they looked so similar to Christmas tree ornaments that I took a photo and wondered if maybe such was the origin of the round baubles we decorate our trees with these days.

IMG_9254.JPG

Thoreau writes of all manner and stages of Apples you might chance to find in a wood. This is chronicled in his work “Wild Apples” which I read a few years back and really enjoyed for the slice of time and sensibilities it bites into.

A fellow tromper of woods and wonderer of what came before his time, Thoreau shares some insights on the importance of Apples to early settlers and Europeans, reaching all the way back to the Greeks. Thinking of the Christmas decorations these apples remind me of, I’ll share this bit of what he conveyed about some European traditions around Apples, Christmas, and the new year in England. Who doesn’t want to learn about “apple-howling” and “wassailing a tree”?!

On Christmas eve the farmers and their men in Devonshire take a large bowl of cider, with a toast in it, and carrying it in state to the orchard, they salute the apple-trees with much ceremony, in order to make them bear well the next season.” This salutation consists in “throwing some of the cider about the roots of the tree, placing bits of the toast on the branches,” and then, “encircling one of the best bearing trees in the orchard, they drink the following toast three several times:

‘Here’s to thee, old apple-tree,

Whence thou mayst bud, and whence thou mayst blow,

And whence thou mayst bear apples enow!

        Hats-full! caps-full!

        Bushel, bushel, sacks-full!

        And my pockets full, too! Hurra!’

Also what was called “apple-howling” used to be practised in various counties of England on New-Year’s eve. A troop of boys visited the different orchards, and, encircling the apple-trees, repeated the following words:

‘Stand fast, root! bear well, top

Pray God send us a good howling crop:

Every twig, apples big;

Every bow, apples enow!’

They then shout in chorus, one of the boys accompanying them on a cow’s horn. During this ceremony they rap the trees with their sticks. This is called ‘wassailing’ the trees, and is thought by some to be ‘a relic of the heathen sacrifice to Pomona.’

Herrick sings:

‘Wassaile the trees that they may beare

You many a plum and many a peare;

For more or less fruits they will bring

As you so give them wassailing.’

Perhaps it’s time we got this tradition back… at least as an excuse to drink cider and together and talk to trees. Two of my favorite pastimes indeed!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Writer in Winter: Day 1

I arrived just before the storm, and this morning went out to play in it. Ice in your beard builds character! I’m back in the Catskill Mountains of New York, house-sitting for friends.

26167317_10100921892477171_5549812125451691985_n.jpg

It feels so good to be here in this embracing valley and tucked under new blankets of snow. And I’ll be writing here all winter… a lot. And playing in the snow whenever possible. I’ve been traveling and moving for 7 months and strongly feel it’s time to slow down and deepen into winter. I’m rather looking forward to the snowy silence, the stillness, and the spaces they help me to discover in my creative endeavors

Much love to you, my friends.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment