TWP's youngest member awarded prestigious commission
Updated: Jun 18
India Hunter joined us when she was only 16. Now she is a mentored commissioned writer with regional agency New Writing North. This is the story of how she got started, in her own words...
I can safely say that I would not be where I am today without the very specific set of circumstances that led me to become a member of the TWP.
I owe this life-changing chain of events to my gorgeous and wonderful friend Sophie Lamond. She first introduced me to spoken word in March 2018 and I instantly fell in love. Poets such as Alysia Harris, Olivia Gatwood and Blythe Baird really connected with us and we wanted to experience the atmosphere and power of these perspectives up close.
That opportunity arose when I found a poster advertising DiVerse in Drake The Bookshop.
I remembered the Facebook page and called Sophie immediately to tell her that we were going, no questions about it. We turned up at Shanti Café for the September 2019 event absolutely terrified – Sophie was calm about it as she always is about these things, but my anxiety was through the roof. Who would be there? What would they think of us? We were so young and uncultured and from looking through the window, I could tell that this was a different world. The most important lesson I learned from that night is that the scariest roads often lead to the most amazing places.
Sophie and I were greeted so warmly, and I remember just feeling at home in the atmosphere. I met such wonderful people like Julie Easley and Bob Beagrie who would go on to offer me many other opportunities to grow as an artist. I had never written a poem before that. I had written little stories and planned out novels, but I had never really found a voice with them. My work had never really been allowed to develop past an echo of what I had heard from other people. DiVerse inspired me to try.
I wrote Red, my first ever poem, and decided to read it at the next DiVerse we attended. The opportunity came in January of 2019 and I was all prepared with my notebook and what I wanted to say to introduce myself until we reached the door. The tiny café was packed with all sorts of amazing people and suddenly I felt so inadequate. I tried to back out, but Sophie wouldn’t hear of it. She tracked down Julie and secured me the last open mic spot on the sheet. Thank the gods she did!
I joined the TWP that night and since then I have been gifted the world’s worth of love and creative support. Sarah Crutwell and Dianne Casey have become like second mothers to me and their impact in my life is something I will never forget. The TWP has helped me find my voice, not only in my writing but in wider life. The TWP has made me feel strong; as if my opinions and perspectives have a right to be heard. This is why organisations like this need funding and attention. There are so many people with the ability to be creative who need this kind of support to realise their potential.
Thanks to the TWP, I have found the confidence to say that I want to be a writer. I am already finding ways to do what I love and be paid for it. The gift of poetry has changed my life and it could change so many others if they are given access to it. Funding the arts is important yet it seems to have lost all merit of consideration in this capitalist-driven society. As Oscar Wilde once said, ‘genius is born, not paid’, but it must be funded and nurtured if it is to ever develop.