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Word Problems

Word Problems

By Ian Williams
Categories: Poetry
Paperback : 9781552454145, 96 pages, October 2020
Ebook (PDF) : 9781770566484, 96 pages, October 2020
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781770566477, 96 pages, October 2020

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.


  • Winner, Raymond Souster Award 2021


"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