Ever since third grade, Ke’Asjanai Hibbler knew she wanted to be a writer. But it wasn’t until she met poets Tracy K. Smith and Adrian Matejka at literary events supported by Indiana Humanities that she gained the courage to go for it.
Ke’Asjanai had been told by some relatives that being a writer wasn’t a real job and that she couldn’t make a living at it. Maybe she should try nursing, someone suggested. But after meeting Tracy, then the U.S. poet laureate, and Adrian, the Indiana poet laureate, the Franklin Central High School student resolved to ignore this advice.
She said rubbing shoulders with writers who were succeeding and supporting themselves with their craft made her dream seem attainable. Now, she’s a college freshman majoring in English at Indiana University in Bloomington, reciting her work at slam poetry events and preparing for a career as a writer.
Ke’Asjanai is among more than 3,000 students and adults who have direct experiences with authors each year through our Novel Conversations Speakers Program, which brings Indiana writers to schools and communities across the state and covers the speaking fees.
Franklin Central English teacher Lisa Laker introduced Ke’Asjanai to Indiana Humanities’ literary programming. She said students exposed to Pulitzer Prize winners such as Tracy or National Book Award finalists such as Adrian may not all become writers, but the encounters leave a lasting impression.
“The kids who have volunteered or experienced any of our programming with Indiana Humanities will never forget it,” Lisa said, “and we have instilled something in them that will be lifelong.”
We believe such shared moments lead to an enduring love of reading, a growing intellectual curiosity and a stronger sense of community.
You can help us create more of these shared experiences in schools and towns across Indiana by donating today.
When donors like you support the humanities, it makes us all stronger—just like it did for Ke’Asjanai. Please give to support more author talks and literary programming in 2020 as we expand our efforts as the new engine behind the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Authors Awards.