Coach House Books

September 2020

$21.95

Poetry

Word Problems

Ian Williams

Math textbooks ask questions with easy answers: Billy has five nickels, Jane gets to the train first, etc. In Word Problems, 2019 Giller Prize winner Ian Williams tries to force poetry to offer us unambiguous answers by slotting tough questions about racial inequality, our pernicious depression, and troubled relationships between people into verse. If we rely too heavily on science and math to understand the ineffable, he suggests, we end up in the absurd position of asking the wrong questions altogether.