Poetry against the pipelines

Visit Pages Two through Four for a sample of Stephen Collis' striking poetry that chronicles a country's struggle against tar sands expansion. 

(Page 2 of 4)
Kinder Morgan, Stephen Collis, Trans Mountain, pipeline protest, BurnabyStephen Collis, local poet and writer, leads the way to the Kinder Morgan terminal in Burnaby, B.C. during a day of mass civil disobedience against fossil fuel use in Canada, Sat. May 14, 2016. Photo by Elizabeth McSheffrey.


If the goal is to reach as many people as possible, poetry is not the best choice. But if the goal is to think and feel your way through a complex issue, poetry might be the way to do that. It is excellent at holding contradictions together — like our dependency on modern technological conveniences and at the same time a desire for a more sustainable, and ultimately more just world.

I have not exactly written the poetic equivalent of the rallying cry to “Stop Kinder Morgan!” I’ve written about the complex tangle we have made in a world dependent upon an energy source we increasingly recognize is killing us (and most other species), but which we cannot yet release ourselves from.

I’ve written about the desire for change in a world that is already rapidly changing — in ways that alarm us, or at least should alarm us.

Here is the concluding poem in Once in Blockadia. The book is in four sections, and I needed something to tie the four together as a sort of “coda.” This is actually one of the most personal poems in the book, condensing some of the drama, I suppose.

But it opens out again to the energies a community was collectively experiencing on the mountain a short time ago: 

One Against Another

Sometimes it is a poem                                                                                                                                                   But often it is not

Everyone I had known                                                                                                                                                     And everyone I had not

Watched the televised                                                                                                                                                 Dream I was dreaming

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