IN THE PRESS
Getting to Know the Author
LIKE A PHOENIX SHE ROSE FROM THE ASHES
Louisiana author and community advocate Ashley Vaughn West started her journey as an over-comer early. As an infant, she battled meningitis, with doctors predicting she’d never read or write. Yet the love of words saw her through and fostered a lifelong gift of writing and creating, credit to her mother's steadfast hope and educational investment in her. By the time she was 12, she had begun winning writing contests, which further encouraged her to use the written word as a form of self-expression. Poetry and spoken word became her tool, and she was quickly inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and authors like Langston Hughes, Edgar Allen Poe, W.E.B. Du Bois, Zora Neale Hurston, and fellow Louisiana poet Sunni Patterson.
Many challenges, milestones, and years later, Ashley began working on her book Unbreakable. The works explored spiritual lows with grace and gratitude, carving out a path for a self-care journey that she would later need to follow but had no idea the words were written for her. In 2018, she hit pause on creating the book when she faced the life-altering tragedy of losing her husband and daughter in a fatal car accident. Feeling helpless and torn, Ashley had to find an almost immediate way back to herself to care for her surviving daughter now as a single mother. The emphasis sat on the word survive for nearly three years before she was back at her red laptop atop the black desk nestled against a dining room window overlooking a pond. It’s there where the sound of water not only brought her peace but rejoined her with her late daughter’s water-loving presence. She began reviewing the pieces of her abandoned manuscript only to discover she had written her own healing guide.
"After experiencing great tragedy, I now feel this book was almost prophetic in nature," she said. "It’s almost like I was writing about strength and overcoming as if I was preparing myself for what would happen. In essence, I can now say wholeheartedly that I am unbreakable. I feel this book is now a testimony to aid those who are grieving, fighting to be heard, and for those who are still finding themselves. I hope this book gives a voice to those who can't articulate their emotions. I want this book to be that flicker of light in all the dark that helps someone make it through."
As a writer who chronicles experiences, whether they are her own or if she’s channeling the energy of others, Ashley wants to be remembered as someone who inspires people to keep going. Her career in grant administration and community development allowed her to impact the lives of others while she healed. Finding it therapeutic to help others in need, she recently began using more than just her words to impact her community. In 2021, she founded Baton Rouge Legacy Foundation, a nonprofit that seeks to connect people with the tools and resources to increase their quality of life by offering academic scholarships, community revitalization to blighted neighborhoods, and poverty-fighting efforts.
Ashley resides in south Louisiana with her loving daughter,son and fiance, where she enjoys traveling, writing, and a renewed sense of peace.
How Have You Been
When people ask, “How have you been?”
I reply, “I’ve been fine.”
Thinking, if only you knew what is on my mind.
What I really should say is:
I've been praying for the Lord’s protection.
Asking that He guides my steps.
I've been breaking generational curses.
I lost loved ones, so I’ve been riding in family hearses.
I've been breaking glass ceilings.
Pushing forward and ignoring feelings.
I’ve been fighting adversity.
Climbing corporate ladders, adding diversity.
I’ve been seeking clarity.
Reviving my creativity.
I’ve been watching my people die on the television.
When stiff branches and nooses turn into bullets
And white sheets turn into blue badges.
While innocent people turn into hashtags.
So, I’ve been staying alive.
I’ve been changed, transformed, and set free.
I’ve been learning to be a new me.
I am a soldier
No, I didn't enlist in any army but I drag myself from the depths of despair to face
the cruel and mean world every morning
No, I'm not ducking bullets or dodging bombs
I’m just hiding in the trenches of life waiting for a better day to come
BRILLIANCE TO INSANITY
I sway back and forth from brilliance to insanity
So caught up in the vanity
People lose all sense of humanity
Great thinkers suffer in a world that celebrates ignorance
One where all originality is sacrificed for a price
Some say that imitation is the highest form of flattery but if the imitator does not acknowledge from whom they borrow
Imitation can be the object of sorrow
Today minds are confined easily led astray with delusional thoughts of thinking, they made it on their own so they feel there is no need to pray
Here I stand oscillating from brilliance to insanity