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Voices of the Street: Empty Inside — with Angel Gates and Peter Thompson

Speakers: Nicolas Leech-Crier, Yvonne Mark, Jules Chapman, William Ross, Angel Gates, Peter Thompson

[soft guitar music]

Nicolas Leech-Crier  0:15 
You’re listening to Voices of the Street, a podcast series brought to you by Megaphone Magazine, featuring original writing from the 2021 Voices of the Street literary anthology. This podcast is recorded on the traditional territories of the Coast Salish, Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh nations.

Yvonne Mark  0:39 
Megaphone is changing the story on poverty by promoting social equity, amplifying marginalized voices, and creating meaningful work. You can purchase a copy of the anthology from your local Megaphone vendor and for more information visit megaphonemagazine.com.

Jules Chapman  1:06 
These stories may deal with difficult topics. Please see the show notes for more information about the topics in this podcast; there are places to reach out for support.

William Ross  1:19 
For this episode of the Voices of the Street podcast host Angel Gates speaks to Megaphone author Peter Thompson about his piece, "Empty Inside," published in the 2021 Voices of the Street Anthology and inspired by feelings of isolation during lockdown.

[music fades]

Angel Gates  1:39 
All right, my name is Angel Gates. I am doing a podcast for Voices of the Street for 2021. This is a Megaphone magazine book of stories by people from the street. Today I'm talking with Peter Thompson. He wrote a poem that you can find inside the magazine, Voices of the Street, called "Empty Inside." How're you doing, Peter?

Peter Thompson  2:01 
Good, good. Thanks.

Angel Gates  2:02 
Nice to have you.

Peter Thompson  2:03 
Yeah, thank you.

Angel Gates  2:05 
So I wanted to talk to you about your poem because it resonated with me so much. Because during lockdown, I was pretty lonely. So, I thought maybe you could read your poem and we can talk about it. When you're done reading.

Peter Thompson  2:17 
Okay, sure. Okay, my poem is, "Empty Inside."

[reading]

Locked inside — nowhere to go, nowhere to hide.
My soul is wandering... what to do? No place to go, just the
walls that enclose me.

I wish for the freedom I once had,
      the fresh air,
          the surroundings,
              the laughter,
                  the chatter of people.

My interaction with people is lost and my brain goes numb.

Some say it’s only a matter of time. A matter of time for
what? For me to lose my mind completely or the release of
my time spent in lockdown?

I have many different feelings about this, which can be
categorized as:
    hurt,
         pain,
             sadness.

And this doesn’t go away, because my worries start. How is
my family doing? Are they okay?

My greys start to show and that empty feeling won’t go
away. I watch the news, hoping and praying for this to end,
but it’s a still a long way off, my friend.

Instead of news I turn to
    movies,
        DVDs,
            very good ole rock ’n’ roll music.
Also short walks to fight the loneliness inside. Cooking is
another pastime of mine. Bannock, burgers, stews, and soups
are my specialties this time of year.

The days are shorter, but inside is longer.

Inside is like a deafening silence — a soundproof room where you
hear no sounds of cars, sirens, or horns honking. I am glad about
that, but when you have been inside too long, you yearn for the
outside —
     sounds,
         the echoes of laughter,
             the horns,
                 the sirens,
like the Great Escape.

Angel Gates  4:36 
Thank you, Peter. So, you wrote this during lockdown. How were you feeling when you wrote this?

Peter Thompson  4:41 
Well, when I wrote that it was just like, mixture of feelings of people that you miss and the people that you interact with every day. And it's something that keeps in your mind, you know, like, when you want to see them, or you want to hear their voice. It's just that empty feeling that you have.

Angel Gates  5:09 
Yeah, I was thinking when I read what you wrote that so many people were feeling lonely and lost during that time. Have you seen anything like, change in the last, since we became unlocked?

Peter Thompson  5:23 
Well, there's been not much of a change because the masks are still, you still have to wear the mask. There's no physical contact. But you could still get out and interact, talk with people that was, that was more of a relief. Because then you could get out and you could enjoy that conversation with somebody else and talk with them and really get to lose that feeling of that loneliness that that you had inside you, is interacting with people.

Angel Gates  6:05 
Yeah, I find that, now that we're back, it's like, like he said, that being having a relief, just be able to talk to people again, I feel that myself. For myself, I find so much has changed now that it's over. Like, from even my own self, from being in lockdown. I'm just gonna, I'm just wondering, like, do you find that, like, anything that's changed during lockdown for you has stayed in lockdown for you, sort of like, parts of you just haven't come back?

Peter Thompson  6:32 
Yeah, yeah, that's, that's true in a way, like, in a sense, where, where you have that feeling of, you don't know what's really happening with this new phase that they're going through, because now again, they say there is going to be number four, what you call?

Angel Gates  6:55 
Fourth wave.

Peter Thompson  6:56 
Yeah. So, it's, it's kind of scary when the numbers start going up again, then you've got to think about, "do you have to go right back to square one?". Nothing happens, right?

Angel Gates  7:09 
Yeah. Yeah, it's been scary for everybody, I think like it with the new variants and all that. It reminded me just like, I worry about people that are still feeling like they're incapable of communication now. Like, they just got so trapped in their own, like, they become so reclusive, they can't seem to manage to break that anymore. Like, I worry about people like that. That's why your story resonated with me so much was because I know, for myself, communicating, it's one thing, but leaving my house now seems to be a big issue for me, like, you know, and I really hate the masks. But I mean, I understand the need for them. So, have you gotten your shot?

Peter Thompson  7:48 
I got, yeah, I got both of them.

Angel Gates  7:51 
Me too.

Peter Thompson  7:51 
Yeah. So, it's, it's more of a relief, because you know, that, that you're not only protecting yourself, but you're protecting others too. So, it works like as you're out there, being in contact with people and stuff. You have that sense where you know, you won't be like infecting others and more or less, but I still like wearing the mask because you don't know who hasn't had their shots yet. 

Angel Gates  8:28 
Yeah. Yeah. 

Peter Thompson  8:29 
And so, it's sort of tricky, because now you see the numbers going up again and.

Angel Gates  8:38 
Yeah, we just want to keep each other safe, I think.

Peter Thompson  8:39 
Yeah.

Angel Gates  8:42 
Yeah, that's amazing. I'm so grateful that I got to talk to you, and everything worked out today. Yeah. So, thank you for coming and doing this interview with me.

Peter Thompson  8:52 
Yeah, for sure. For sure. 

Angel Gates  8:54 
Yeah. I really enjoyed your poem. I hope I get to read more of your stuff as time goes on.

Peter Thompson  8:59 
Well, I got another one in this new Megaphone that came out too. 

Angel Gates  9:05 
Is that the Megaphone Magazine?

Peter Thompson  9:07 
Yeah, yeah. This one is of the Lytton because Lytton is my hometown. So so I wrote about that one too.

Angel Gates  9:17 
And would you like to tell me a little bit about Lytton.

Peter Thompson  9:19 
Lytton, Lytton is ... was a pretty, pretty vibrant place where people, people reached out for other people and everything. But the sad part of it was that Lytton burned down through that fire that they had so, but then, you know, it happened in the daytime. If it had happened at night, we would have had more casualties.

Angel Gates  9:45 
That's a blessing. 

Peter Thompson  9:48 
But our people are strong and they're all planning to rebuild, but.

Angel Gates  9:56 
Yeah, I heard about that. I completely forgot that it was Lytton. 

Peter Thompson  9:59 
Yeah.

Angel Gates  10:00 
Because we had the similar thing with Fort McMurray.

Peter Thompson  10:02 
Oh, yeah. 

Angel Gates  10:03 
Similar, but Lytton got it really bad. So yeah, I'm really sorry to hear about that. But you're right. Our people are resilient and strong. 

Peter Thompson  10:11 
Yeah.

Angel Gates  10:11 
And they will rebuild, I'm sure. That's just, I'm so glad that there wasn't more casualties. That's… 

Peter Thompson  10:16 
Yeah. But I feel I feel for the elders up there too, because they lost their homes. And it was everything that they had. Now they're put out in different places where they're not used to. Like, they're used to their own daily routine, and cooking and everything. And now they get to go out to restaurants and stuff, but they get tired of the restaurant food, they liked their own their own cooking and stuff, but they can do it.

Angel Gates  10:50 
Yeah, it would be really hard on the elders and the really little kids. 

Peter Thompson  10:53 
Yeah. 

Angel Gates  10:54 
Yeah.

Peter Thompson  10:55 
Because they're displaced, right. They don't have a home to go back to.

Angel Gates  11:01 
You obviously then have family that have been affected.

Peter Thompson  11:03 
Yes. 

Angel Gates  11:04 
Yeah. Is there any news on any of that? Like, like, are our government doing anything other than daily, daily money in hotels at the moment?

Peter Thompson  11:14 
Well, I don't know what their plan is, but, but they got to start with the planning for rebuilding and doing the cleanup and sewer system, the water system and everything. And to make it a fireproof buildings because it gets.

Angel Gates  11:39 
Because we're going to be looking at this for the foreseeable future, every summer.

Peter Thompson  11:42 
Oh yeah, like every summer is going to get hotter and hotter. And there's going to be more fires every year.

Angel Gates  11:50 
It's pretty scary times we're living in.

Peter Thompson  11:52 
Yeah. 

Angel Gates  11:53 
I'm going to send my prayers out to you and your family and everybody in Lytton too, that things would get better for them. Scary times we're living in with climate change and, and all this and, you know, who knows what's gonna happen next summer? We've still got the rest of the summer to go. So.

Peter Thompson  12:10 
Yeah, and it's supposed to get hot again. 

Angel Gates  12:13 
Yeah. Yeah. Crazy heat waves. I've never seen anything like this in my life.

Peter Thompson  12:17 
I know. Especially when it started in June. June, like June is usually like a month where, where we have lots of rain and stuff. But now it just all of a sudden just got super hot and Lytton was like caught for three days before the fire started. Like it broke like every record. 

Angel Gates  12:42 
Wow. 

Peter Thompson  12:43 
And then all of a sudden, just like that, fires started.

Angel Gates  12:48 
Yeah, that's so sad. I remember being a kid and people didn't like to stay in Vancouver because in the summer, it just rained so much. You know, like we're living in a rain forest. Really, really, it should be raining a lot, you know. The fact that we get hardly any rain now is, it is pretty significant. It's really scary. You know.

Peter Thompson  13:07 
Just like the PNE you know, when the PNE starts, that's when it starts raining.

Angel Gates  13:12 
Yeah, when you want to go on the rides. Yeah, I remember.

Peter Thompson  13:16 
Only last year it didn't rain in August, because the PNE was closed. So, it didn't rain. 

Angel Gates  13:22 
Of course not. Yeah. Yeah. I'm glad. I'm glad to see things are opening up again. Anyway, here I'm really going to be praying for you and your family and Lytton, and I hope that you feel better. And you get out there and get lots of hugs. 

Peter Thompson  13:39 
Yeah. Yeah.

Angel Gates  13:39 
And I hope we can all just get back to normal.

Peter Thompson  13:43 
Yeah, got to get them now before the fourth wave comes.

Angel Gates  13:46 
Yes. Yeah. And let's pray that you know, enough of us get our shots that the fourth wave doesn't come.

Peter Thompson  13:51 
Yeah, yeah, that's what we have to do. Like everybody. Everybody should get it.

Angel Gates  13:57 
I think so too, you know.

Peter Thompson  13:58 
Yeah.

Angel Gates  13:59 
I was afraid to get it, to be honest with you. But I thought I weighed out the pros and cons and I thought, one way gets things back to normal-ish and the other way gets people to stay where they are. And yeah, I thought, forget it. I'll just get it. So, I got my shots. 

Peter Thompson  14:13 
Better to have it because this virus is alive.

Angel Gates  14:17 
Yeah. 

Peter Thompson  14:17 
And it's out there. It's listening and watching and waiting.

Angel Gates  14:20 
Yeah.

Peter Thompson  14:21 
Waiting for it to strike.

Angel Gates  14:23 
Right. And so, we have to respect it just the same way as we respect everything else. 

Peter Thompson  14:26 
Yeah. Yeah. Because it's nature's way, like, you got to respect nature, and it'll respect you too.

Angel Gates  14:34 
Yeah, that's right. Yeah, again, so thank you for coming again. It's been a pleasure talking to you.

Peter Thompson  14:40 
Thank you for inviting me.

Angel Gates  14:42 
I'm glad you came.

Peter Thompson  14:42 
Yeah.

Angel Gates  14:43 
All my relations.

Peter Thompson  14:44
All my relations.

Angel Gates  14:48 
So, everybody look out for Megaphone Magazine. And more of Peter Thompson's work again, this is for Megaphone, Voices of the Street. My name is Angel Gates or Gyuu Tsi'iga Jaad from the Haida nation. I also wanted to mention if there's anybody out there struggling with their loneliness and feeling completely isolated still and you feel like you are at a breaking point or just lonely and sad still, please remember to reach out, that you're not alone. And there will be a number left at the end of my podcast for you to call. Okay, so don't stay in crisis. You're not alone. Thank you for tuning in. And thank you for coming. All my relations.

[music]

William Ross  15:38 
Like Angel said, help is available. You can head to the show notes for links to different mental health support services or call 1-833-456-4566 to access a crisis line available anywhere in Canada. This has been part five of the Voices of the Street podcast series with your host Angel Gates and Peter Thompson. Tune in next Tuesday for the final installment of the series.

Yvonne Mark  16:06 
This series was produced with support from the City of Vancouver, BC Arts Council, SFU’s Community Engagement Initiative and SFU’s Vancity Office of Community Engagement.

Jules Chapman  16:20
This podcast was developed through a mentorship program led by Helena Krobath. Special thanks to the Storytellers and Voices of the Street writers, the supporting mentors, and the audio production team. 

Please see the show notes for more information about the topics in this podcast; there are places to reach out for support.

Nicolas Leech-Crier  16:38 
Our theme song was created by John Brennan, with extra music and sound effects by John Brennan and Helena Krobath. 

Sound engineering, editing, mixing, and mastering by Paige Smith, Fiorella Pinillos and Kathy Feng. On behalf of the participants of the Megaphone Podcasting Pilot Project, I would like to give thanks to our Executive Director, Julia Aoki, both the board of directors, and all the hardworking vendors out there keeping our organization alive. Thank you. 

[music fades]

Transcript auto-generated by Otter.ai and edited by the Below the Radar team.
March 15, 2022
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