Word Problems

Ian Williams

Coach House Books

Word Problems

Ian Williams

Coach House Books

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 bass notes, curiosities circle endlessly, and microaggressions spin into lyric. And all done with a light touch and a joyful sense of humour.

photo of Ian Williams
Ian Williams is the author of five books. His novel, Reproduction, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize.

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