Word Problems

By Ian Williams

Word Problems
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From Ian Williams, author of Reproduction, winner of the Giller Prize and a June 2020 Indie Next Great Read

Frustrated by how tough the issues of our time are to solve – racial inequality, our pernicious depression, the troubled relationships we have with other people – ... Read more


Overview

From Ian Williams, author of Reproduction, winner of the Giller Prize and a June 2020 Indie Next Great Read

Frustrated by how tough the issues of our time are to solve – racial inequality, our pernicious depression, the troubled relationships we have with other people – Ian Williams revisits the seemingly simple questions of grade school for inspiration: if Billy has five nickels and Jane has three dimes, how many Black men will be murdered by police? He finds no satisfaction, realizing that maybe there are no easy answers to ineffable questions.

Williams uses his characteristic inventiveness to find not just new answers but new questions, reconsidering what poetry can be, using math and grammar lessons to shape poems that invite us to participate. Two long poems cut through the text like vibrating basenotes, curiosities circle endlessly, and microaggressions spin into lyric. And all done with a light touch and a joyful sense of humour.

Ian Williams

Ian Williams is the author of the Giller Prize-winning novel Reproduction . His last poetry collection Personals was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award. His short story collection, Not Anyone's Anything, won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada. His first book, You Know Who You Are, was a finalist for the ReLit Poetry Prize. Williams holds a Ph.D. in English at the University of Toronto and is currently an assistant professor of poetry in the Creative Writing program at the University of British Columbia. He was the 2014-2015 Canadian Writer-in-Residence for the University of Calgary's Distinguished Writers Program. Ian Williams currently resides in Vancouver, BC.

Reviews

[Ian Williams] blends personal emotion with historical tension, tradition and modernity, ordinary and magical so seamlessly. When he pulls the strings of contradictions: light and heavy, hilarious and serious, I can't help but dance like a happy puppet in the masterful hands. I'm so happy to find another shining star above Canada's poetry horizon!""

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