My Conversation with Fowler West

This blog post was written by Summer 2021 graduate intern Supun Dahal.

Photo of 2021 Poage Summer Intern, Supun Dahal

As a part of my summer internship at the W. R. Poage Legislative Library, I was reaching out to various lawmakers and public officials who had served with the federal government. Being a student of public policy and most importantly, an enthusiast willing to learn how to improve the political turmoil of my country, my conversation with Fowler West proved insightful. Mr. West is an alumnus of Baylor University who completed his bachelor’s in political science. He also earned a master’s from George Washington University in Legislative Affairs, and a JD degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He started his political career as an administrative assistant to Congressman Bob Poage and ultimately served as the Commissioner of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Fowler West is now a member of The Standing Committee, the friends group for Poage Library, and has been supporting the library time and again. He wrote a book for the library commemorating its 30th anniversary celebration. In his book, ‘He ain’t no lawyer’, West recollected his experiences working with Mr. Poage using short stories. The newsletter story was one of the noteworthy pieces in that collection. While working at the House of Representatives post office, West printed weekly newsletters by typing at the antique mimeograph machine. This machine, affectionately known in the office as ‘the monster’, required particular care and attention. The ink had to be distributed patiently and evenly over the drum.  If there was even a slight mistake, the ink would fly all over the room. Likewise, if there was any mistake during typing, staff had to start from the very beginning. Despite it being such a treacherous obstacle, West conquered ‘the monster’ over time. So much so, that even after West left the office, he was always getting calls asking him to come and help with the machine.

Photo of Fowler West (left) and Bob Poage (right)

I had an interesting conversation with Fowler. We talked about his experiences working as a public official and working under Bob Poage. However, our conversation immediately revolved around my interest and aspirations. West was very interested to learn about the situation in Nepal and to understand what I aspired to do in the future. He was very supportive and gave suggestions about different programs relating to policy making and how I could participate in those. He also suggested how I could reach out to various Representatives to learn from them and talk to them about my efforts.

Mr. West even reached out to the office of Representative Pete Sessions on my behalf, scheduling an appointment for me. This was such a heartwarming effort, and I am lucky to have had the opportunity to talk to him. I got in contact with the legislative correspondent of Congressman Pete Sessions and set up an in-person appointment to meet with him. It was a great opportunity for me to talk with a wonderful personality like Fowler West and to be inspired by learning about his contributions to the political process.


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