Poetry Project Protests Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Proposal and Pipelines Around the World

Collaborative protest poem could stretch from Alberta to the BC Coast and back again 37+ times.

Credit: Jenn Bauer

Christine Leclerc’s Enpipe Line poetry project against pipelines

“I think that poetry can serve as a site for a culture of resistance to emerge,” says Christine Leclerc.


The Enpipe Line, organized by Christine Leclerc, is a collaborative poetry project written in resistance to socially and envi­ron­men­tally destruc­tive projects


Back in early December, Christine Leclerc admitted it could take years to accumulate the equivalent of 1,173 kilometres of protest poem submissions to match the length of the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines, twin pipelines to move tar sands oil from just outside of Edmonton, Alberta, to Kitimat, BC, and waiting tankers.


Enpipe Line Poetry Project


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A couple months later, not only have contributions surpassed this distance by more than 40,000 km, this collaborative poetry project has connected people with a common concern for the environmental future of our planet worldwide.


Poetry for social and environmental change

Leclerc, a writer and activist who teaches writing for new media at UBC, began accepting submissions to the Enpipe Line poetry project in November 2010.


“I was very concerned about the proposed Northern Gateway pipelines and I wanted to do something,” she explains.


“I think that poetry can serve as a site for a culture of resistance to emerge. People are reading them, sharing them and getting together to talk about these issues.”


Enpipe Line poetry project
Some of the poetry submitted to the Enpipe Line project addresses the Enbridge pipeline directly, some focus on environmental impacts, while others are provocatively abstract.


Charged contributions to the Enpipe Line poetry project

The Enpipe Line poetry project provides a space for Canadian and international writers to express their creative solidarity in myriad forms and languages. Some poems address the pipeline subject directly, some tackle aligned fears about mining practices, pollution and the all-consuming pursuit of money. Some celebrate humanity and nature, and others are provocatively abstract.


Put together, these poems are emotionally charged, questioning and uneasy.


“I think initially I was moved to receive any submissions at all,” Leclerc laughs. “The submissions are coming from different kinds of writers. Some are university professors who teach poetry, and there are activist poets, students and some people who haven’t written much poetry before. There are people who have contributed their Facebook statuses and there are some found poems.”


Enbridge versus Enpipe writing contests

Christine Leclerc with the Enpipe Line poemChristine Leclerc has collected more than 44,000 kilometres of protest poetry from professors, activists, students and others for the Enpipe Line.

Leclerc recently discovered that Enbridge sponsors a writing contest for Aboriginal Canadians, ages 14–29. She invites simultaneous submissions to the Enpipe Line and will hold publication until after the contest has been judged.


Enpipe Line accepting submissions until October 31, 2012

The Enpipe Line accepts poetry submissions from anyone, worldwide. The project will continue until October 31, 2012, and collaborators are currently discussing future goals and activities now that the scaled length of this collaborative poem can cross Canada from coast to coast about five times.


But wait, why is the Enpipe Line already 40,000 km longer than the original goal of 1,173 km? It turns out, Leclerc made a small error when calculating the scale of the words in comparison to the scale of the actual pipelines.


And perhaps there’s a lesson there: just as people are fallible, pipelines can burst.