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Poetry Indigenous

Old Gods

by (author) Conor Kerr

Nightwood Editions
Initial publish date
Apr 2023
Indigenous, Native American, Places
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2023
    List Price

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Métis Ukrainian writer Conor Kerr’s sharp and incisive poems move restlessly across landscapes and time.

Conor Kerr’s poetry is in constant motion. 4Runners streak through the night, racing with coyotes and roving across the land. Buses travel from town to town, from one memory to another, from past to present. Friends and lovers search for each other on Instagram and find nothing. And always the natural world travels alongside: the watching magpies, woodpeckers and cedar waxwings, the coyotes and porcupines. Family is the crisp wings of mallard ducks flying at dawn, just as it is a game of crib, a Mario Kart race, a dance party.

Old Gods defies colonialism on the Prairies. Kerr situates his reader in the Métis mindset: the old gods of the land are alive within the rivers, the birds, the hills and the prairies that surround us, and they’ll always be here.

About the author

Conor Kerr is a Métis Ukrainian writer. A member of the Métis Nation of Alberta, he is a descendant of the Lac Ste. Anne Métis and the Papaschase Cree Nation. His Ukrainian family are settlers in Treaty Four and Six territories in Saskatchewan. In 2020 he received the Fiddlehead’s Ralph Gustafson Poetry Prize and in 2021 was awarded the Malahat Review’s Long Poem Prize. His work has been anthologized in Best Canadian Poetry 2020 and Best Canadian Stories 2020 and published in literary magazines across Canada. He is the author of the poetry collection An Explosion of Feathers and the novel Avenue of Champions, which was shortlisted for the Amazon First Novel Award and won a 2022 ReLit Award. His poetry collection Old Gods is forthcoming with Nightwood Editions in 2023.

Conor Kerr's profile page

Editorial Reviews

A Métis man with a compulsion for nomadism talks anger, romance and land memory. Old Gods offers up an unabashed, desperate, almost destructive nostalgia for the kind of life that has you sweating and grunting, paying attention to your body and how it moves through the natural world. The kind of life that still sometimes exists on the prairie, when you’re whisky-warm on the back bench of the Greyhound’s midnight run, or driving an old beater down the highway and there’s no one around except coyotes, their deer and the moon. When, at any moment, you might have to strip yourself of modernity and bullshit to become more animal, more honest. Conor Kerr's self-referential, biting and sweet sophomore collection will make you want to condemn artificiality, too.

Molly Cross-Blanchard, author of <em>Exhibitionist</em>

“In Old Gods, Conor Kerr simultaneously exults in and elegizes the prairies and the many changing lives lived there. From stretched hands and stories shared to journeys across place and time, he reminds us of the ways we are all—human, animal, vehicle and land—always in relationship, running along together through the night between departure and arrival. Kerr is a caretaker of contemporary Métis prairie life that thrums in cities and in grasslands, and these poems tenderly mark the endlessness of this place.”

Jason Purcell, author of <i>Swollening</i>

Other titles by Conor Kerr