Meet the bipolar writer who took 12 years to 'perfect' his first book
- Credit: Tacha de Karma
A Newington Green former prisoner and carpenter with a writing compulsion linked to his bipolar disorder has published his first book.
John T Hope, 55, woke up one morning in 2009 feeling the need to write. He produced the first chapter of this spiritual prose poetry book, OMNI’s Wordsmith Mantra, that day before spending the next 12 years perfecting it.
John did not have a habit of writing before experiencing this compulsion, but now dedicates his life to it, attributing his newfound passion to a divine sign.
He said: “I was experiencing a lot of financial stress because I was not getting paid for my carpentry jobs.
“One night I was sitting in my room thinking “God help me out” and then I woke up the next morning with my laptop in hand and the words just fell out of me onto the page.”
Yet for John - who was born in Manchester to Jamaican parents - the rest of the writing process was difficult because of his limited literariness, which he claimed was caused by a culture of racism during his childhood that resulted in black children being given a worse education - as highlighted in Steve McQueen’s Small Axe series.
John said: “Because of the way the Windrush generation has been educated it’s taken me 12 years to write something perfect.
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“My punctuation was all wrong and I had to educate myself by reading the dictionary all the time, looking up different meanings for words.”
Writing is also a form of therapy for John who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in 2009, a condition he wants to de-stigmatise.
He said: “The press only points out the bad things about the mentally ill - you don’t hear so much about the good things the mentally ill do.”
Describing the theme and content of his new book, John revealed he wanted to convey a spiritual understanding of love from the point of view of a single black man who is not interested in marriage but wants to experience love.
On his influences and unique voice, John said: “Reading doesn’t interest me because I don’t want to be influenced by the writing of others. My mind has not been contaminated by another philosopher speaking.”
John will be promoting his new book and reading from it on November 10 at 7pm in Newington Green Meeting House.