Monthly Archives: December 2014

A personal note – some 2015 plans

Hard times are coming, when we’ll be wanting the voices of writers who can see alternatives to how we live now, can see through our fear-stricken society and its obsessive technologies to other ways of being, and even imagine real grounds for hope. We’ll need writers who can remember freedom – poets, visionaries – realists of a larger reality.”

That’s Ursula K. Le Guin, from her recent National Book Awards speech. I’m going to, in whatever way I can, try to meet this call, and re-dedicate myself to writing this year. That means I’m going to try to step back, for a time, from organizing, and even step back a bit from social media. I want to be scarcer, less public, and more focused on writing. We’ll see how that goes! But I’m going to try.

There are three things I want to work on. First, I have a half-written book of poetry and essays, Reading Wordsworth in the Tar Sands, that I need to finish for a 2016 publication date. This is writing shaped by walking through the restrictive and restricted spaces of resource extraction—an attempt to open and contest these spaces where capital is indeed and quite directly killing the planet.

Second, I have written the first draft of a play, Blockadia, coming out of the recent Kinder Morgan experience. It’s terrible. But maybe I can make something out of it in revision. We’ll see. If you never hear about this again, you’ll know why.

Finally, I want to write essays on this blog—essays on movement tactics and strategies, on where we are, and where we may need to go. I’m tired of being so reactive—to always be in a position of having to react to the latest move made by the state and corporation as they try every trick in the book to keep extracting wealth from people and the land. What we really need, I think, is to get out ahead of them—to have the vision, and the capacity, that they are currently counting on us lacking. I want to make whatever small contribution to that that I can.

I know many amazing and dedicated organizers. I know spirited and fearless activists. Coming out of the (still not finished) struggle on Burnaby Mountain in the fall of 2014, I see people re-dedicating themselves to organizing and to action. I see people stepping into politics. What I feel I need to do, what I can do, is write, and speak, and teach. It’s not a matter of choosing words over actions; it’s a matter of bringing some good words to the action.

—Stephen Collis

Solstice 2014: A Poem

Waking that voice
That talks to you
Always just alongside
Always that presence
Of some others
Within or nearby
Saying you might be
Forgiven for thinking
It can’t get any
Darker than this
That just around
The intricate social
Corner those old
Strains of utopia will
Sound or final
Stores from harvest
Break open in
Winter feast as we
Spend these reserves
Knowing daylight cracks
On its axial tilt
Towards renewal

But you’d be
Mistaken the voice
That talks to you
Not gloating or
Even sad really just
Noting how we
Can’t breathe arms
Up don’t shoot
Another black man
Down another law
Passed to protect
The police from
Our social witnessing
To criminalize our
Dissent and boost
Budgets for new
Wars and the
Regulatory skids greased
For every new energy
Project that kills
Climates while lining
Select pockets and
Women aren’t safe
Where you’d think
They would be safe
And there’s 500 years
And counting of
Unremitting colonization
Eating up lives
And lands here

The voice that
Talks to you is
And isn’t without
Optimism or not
Hope exactly but
Some residual knowledge
Or perspective gained
By time spent
Amongst communities
Of resistance so
While this might
Not yet be the
Bottom of our
Descent we know
Each lower layer
Reveals new pockets
Of resistance new
Sparks and embers
Glowing against the
Long night of Empire
Host that voice
Invokes from edges
Of dream how you
Entered the street
And with love of
Companions rocked
A cop car back and forth
Until it rolled over
With a loud
Crunch and cheer