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Wayward, a new book of poems by economics professor James P. West, distills pivotal events (like September 11, 2001) and big ideas (the oneness of human life) into concise statements rich with meaning. "Think of Odgen Nash meets Rumi meets Emily Dickinson," he says. "Most of my poems have a moral or spiritual aspect, often told with light humor. Like economics graphs, my poetry is designed to be concise but meaningful."
West, who has been writing poetry since his late teens, has read his work at coffee houses, book events, private parties, and conferences over the years. "The poems have a simplicity yet depth that attracts both casual and serious readers of poetry," he says. "Through the years, friends suggested I put my poems in a book, so I finally did this summer."
"Embryo," "Wayward," "Messiah," "Memorial," and other poems in Wayward reflect Jim West's own search for meaning in life?a search that inspired him to hitchhike across the country as a teen, and later to travel and explore the cultures and religions of the world.
"I've found a great unity among the world's different religions," he says. "Man is a moral being and, as bad and as divided as the world is getting, I believe we are in the process of rediscovering our oneness as humans. We have a higher personal and civic purpose."
And the study of economics? Not so different, he says. "Economics is another kind of search; it looks at the social and cultural context in which policies are made. People forget that Adam Smith (the 'father of economic theory') was first a moral philosopher." A free economy and society can accomplish much good in the world, he adds, but only when directed by a moral compass. "In my poetry, I try to bridge the gap between the material and the moral."
To read more of Jim's poems, click here, or visit his website of poetry, photography, philosophy and political economy at www.jamespwest.com. Wayward will be available at the Moravian College Book Store, the Moravian Book Shop, and at www.jamespwest.com.