In the book of ayâs, Neal McLeod takes his place among the great Indigenous storytellers of the continent. He has situated stories of ayâs — a traditional Cree figure who experiences exile, dislocation, and encounters with a dark spirit — in the Plains Cree world of the mid-nineteenth century. McLeod then extends these stories and weaves them into the experience of contemporary Indigenous men who are dealing with legacies of colonial violence and trauma. At the center of McLeod’s vision is the ancient marriage of Cree language and land. “With the revival of kinêhiyawêwinaw (our Cree language),” he says, “we can awaken the old horse songs of our ancestors and sing our beings back to wholeness and light.”
University of Regina Press is deeply honoured to be publishing this extraordinary long poem. McLeod has given us both an important work of Cree narrative history and a profound and moving meditation on cultural violence and rejuvenation. It is destined to become a classic. the book of ayâs is of special interest to fans of Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red and Claudia Rankine's Citizen, as well as any reader looking for the latest in strong Indigenous (or Native American) voices.