James Just was born in Sacramento, California in 1948. He attended university then, for lack of imagination, law school. He quickly realized life as a lawyer was not for him and dropped out, of school and of any career path. Two early marriages proved not propitious for the women involved, but did produce four beloved children. Over those years he worked at a variety of trades to make ends meet - projectionist, chef, restaurateur, bird bander. But his passion always was literature, in particular poetry.
James was running a wine shop in Seattle when he met the love of his life, Irina, a German woman who had fled Germany at a young age for the wide-open spaces of the United States. They dropped everything and ran off to the South of France. There he picked up a few francs working as a stonemason in the small village of Salles d’Aude. For one glorious year they lived a simple and joyous life among the locals and amidst the vineyards.
James and Irina returned to the U.S transformed by their experience of France, wanting to re-create the French way of life as best they could. They traded in Irina’s Seattle condo for a neglected 30-acre parcel in the Willamette Valley of Oregon and began to painstakingly transform the land into a homestead. They planted a vineyard and grew and made pinot noir, planted an apple orchard, restored wetlands, and reforested land unsuitable for pasture or crops. They grew organic produce, raised sheep and ducks, and shared a rich life with good friends.
With the years they became increasingly concerned with environmental issues and involved with environmental organizations. They pleaded with local state governments to act to preserve native species and their habitats from the ravages of progress. James foresaw that human-induced climate change posed an existential threat to human civilization and to life on earth. But nobody kept listening.
As the years passed working the farm was becoming too much for for their aging bodies and they saw that nothing was going to change in the United States. James and Irina sold the farm and sought sanctuary in Costa Rica. They found a home in the mountains ringing the Valle Central, on the slopes of Vulcán Poás, in the community of El Cajón.
James has written poetry all his life. When he and Irina moved to Costa Rica he was blessed with the time and inspiration to pursue wholeheartedly the study and writing of poetry. Since living in Costa Rica he has written and published A Year of Days, Sketches of Poás, and Meanders. James worked with the Costa Rican poet Rosibel Morera to translate her book “Yo sólo sé decirme a los amantes” (“I Only Sing of Lovers”) into English. A dual-language edition of Morera’s book will be published by the Editorial Universidad Nacional in 2019. His fourth and latest book - The Book of Noah - has just been released. The Book of Noah is the culmination of years of engagement with literature and with the story of humans on planet Earth.