Melissa Todd on – Mind The Gap Poetry Podcast.

Mind the Gap is a poetry podcast. Each month an ensemble of spoken word artists send recordings of their poetry to Angela Dye:

she collates and orders them, a conductor to a discordant, disparate orchestra, allowing their words to enhance each other, the strong and experienced nurturing and reinforcing the weak, together unifying into a powerful whole. 

While it contains many established poets, Angela is determined Mind the Gap should support new writers. Passionate about encouraging others to create, Angela has delivered workshops on poetry and performance in care homes, and hopes to do the same in prisons and schools, collecting voices from those less usually heard to showcase alongside the acknowledged and established. The “gap’ of the podcast’s title refers to those outside the mainstream poetry scene, excluded by geography, poverty, social or health issues, be they writers or lovers of poetry. But it’s also a gap in which Angela herself can hide; a place to enjoy poetry in peace, away from the scene’s clamour.

It can feature anywhere between 12-25 poets, but usually around 15. Themes are often chosen to reflect seasonal issues or calendar events – this month, the theme is weather – but she’s keen to emphasise the theme needn’t be interpreted literally; wild lateral spin-offs are greatly encouraged. The podcast was the brainchild of Michael Ivatt, who worked on Something Understood for Radio 4, and invited Angela to be part of this project. He knows nothing of poetry. She knows nothing of technical stuff. They don’t interfere with each other’s areas of expertise, much. It works.

“Mind the Gap allows me to cast my net wider than my purse and stamina would otherwise allow”, Angela says. I doubt you’ve ever met anyone as inherently poetic as Angela. Every other sentence is a glorious visual metaphor. My pen can’t keep up with her. After five hours it runs out entirely, so I just sit and stare. She’s all beads and fishnets and glitter, pure Moulin Rouge, and gesticulates wildly when she’s excited, which is always. 

Mind the Gap appeared partly in consequence of her uncertainty as to how to negotiate the poetry scene. She still puts on events in her hometown of Faversham, Kent, but sought too a different outlet, quicker and more accessible. “I get immense pleasure out of creating it. Hearing all those different voices, seeing how the themes reinforce and reflect each other, or veer into entirely new and unexpected directions.” Angela assembles the content herself, carefully selecting and ordering by voice, theme, region, experience, writing the introductions to each piece. “I cherish the joy that people express when their work is featured, and how they grow and develop in their artistry and performance.” She’s featured poets from the US, Barbados and India, and hopes to encourage submissions from everywhere else.

“All poets are citrus. Lemons, limes, grapefruit. But they won’t sit still and quiet and let themselves become a fruit punch. This is a way I can make that happen.” You can enjoy the poems on their own, but really they work best enjoyed as a whole, “a sumptuous banquet rather than a quick sandwich on the way to the train.” Food features heavily in her metaphors, as does transport. Obviously Mind the Gap has travel connotations too, and she hopes her podcast will be enjoyed on people’s commutes, a joyous alternative to listlessly scrolling through Facebook. She’s working with transport companies to make that happen, and hopes ultimately to introduce a whole suite of interactive technology, bringing commuters a poetry juke box to brighten their daily slog. 

Angela is a very fine poet herself. (Check out The Echo Chamber, a collaborative project with award winning poet Matt Chamberlain). I’m curious as to whether spending so much time with all those other poets’ voices affects her own. “No. I’m already confident in my own voice. I can consciously choose to incorporate other people’s ideas and learn from their work, but my voice remains strong. Also, I don’t identify particularly as a poet. Writing is one giant sweet shop to me – today I’m a poet, tomorrow a script writer, next week a journalist. You meet poets for whom that label forms a huge part of their identity, which is great, but it’s not me. In my creative writing degree I concentrated on poetry largely because it meant fewer words to write. And yet understanding poetry, learning to be concise with language, has informed all my writing, whether short stories, plays or film scripts. When I write now I see words as a delicate string of pearls, their highs and lows supported by a single steely unifying thread.” I’m not sure what that means, but the image still blisters. I write it down carefully.

Several other audio projects have emerged in response to Mind the Gap’s success. Confluence magazine have commissioned them to anthologise their short story and poetry collections, while Sidetracks focuses on specific artists, showcasing only their work in a tailored podcast. In Angela’s regular radio show a poem may be played, then followed by commentary by her and other literary guests, and possibly even a live interview with the poet, if they’re brave enough.

 My wine and ink are exhausted, as am I, but Angela is as fresh and energetic as when we first met: the woman runs on nothing more substantial than metaphor. As she sees me off she references Piaget’s theory of disequilibrium:  the notion that imbalances between one’s beliefs and one’s experiences distress us and set us scurrying for new experiences to help us rebalance. Learning and creativity arise in that scurry, that conflict. The dissonance between the varying poets in the Mind the Gap podcast is deliberate. It’s intended not only to thrill and encourage the poets to further creative endeavours, but also their listeners.

Listen to the Mind the Gap podcast here: https://soundcloud.com/user-617401425 and send your submissions to Angela Dye at [email protected]

Mind The Gap – Weather

Also By Melissa Todd on The Blue Nib On Watching Lemons At Sea -Reviewed.

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