Word Problems poems by Ian Williams
I was really apprehensive about responding to poetry. I don’t read a lot of poetry, I’m not sure why. I guess it’s because I don’t feel “qualified” to talk about it. That being said, one of my 2021 reading goals is to read more poetry and therefore my first choice this year had been Ian Williams Word Problem Poems.
Williams juxtaposes serious topics such as racial discrimination and mental illness against elementary school math problems and language arts “rules”. This approach leads me, as an educator, to reflect upon what is integral to my teaching; that I should be spending more time discussing timely and impactful societal issues rather than solving for x or making sure students use proper subject-verb agreement.
Williams’s poems offer an intimate view into the mind of a black man. Free -verse, creative and experimental, and intimidating (honestly I don’t even know what words to use to describe my response) but tremendously thought-provoking.
Always one for experimentalism and creativity, I really enjoyed and appreciated deliberate choice in format and typography for each poem. The shapes, in and of themselves, lead to another level of interpretation of the meaning of the poem.
So, if you’re tentative about adding poetry to your reading list “Word Problems” will be an engaging addition.