Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Creative Activism


Stephen Collis—who last year was one of two protesting SFU professors hit with a multi-million-dollar lawsuit by energy company Kinder Morgan—talks about the "nexus" between poetry and politics in his own literary practice.
I have, slowly, come to think of this nexus as less about the content of poetry—not even a matter of the form of poetry—so much as it is a question of distribution and reception. Poetry’s political function has more to do with the contexts in which it is performed, heard, and read. My work as both a poet and political activist/organizer has come to be one in which I imagine myself as an embedded poet: I write and perform poetry, yes, but I do so increasingly within the context of an active social movement (a grassroots climate justice movement, organized alongside and in collaboration with Indigenous land defenders attempting to stop new fossil fuel extraction on and infrastructure crossing their traditional lands). I am a “poet,” but that is inseparable from the work I do as an “activist,” and when I am writing and performing poetry I am doing so as part of an active social movement. My commitments, in writing, are less and less, specifically, to a community of poets and a literary history than they are to a community of resistance and a history of social struggles.

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