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Publishers Group Canada

Word Problems
By (author): Ian Williams
Ian Williams


Coach House Books



Product Form:


Form detail:

Paperback , Trade


General Trade
Oct 06, 2020
$21.95 CAD


8in x 5.5 x 0.25 in | 0.35 lb

Page Count:

96 pages
Coach House Books
POETRY / Canadian / General
Raymond Souster Award 2021, Winner

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.

  • Ian William’s novel Reproduction won the 2019 Giller Prize and is being published in the US by Europa Editions (Spring 2020).
  • Ian Williams’ previous poetry collection, Personals, was shortlisted for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize.
  • Poetry collections that explore race and identity (i.e., American Sonnets For My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes) are very popular.

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.

"Going in circles is structural ... in Ian Williams’s Word Problems, a challenge in this case not of nature but of white supremacist culture and its enforcement. Event Magazine

"His word play is always in the service of a deadly seriousness, and recognizing the issues is critical to an improvement in relations among human beings." The Ormsby Review

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