Personals

by Ian Williams

April 2012
5 x 9 paper 100 pages
978-1-55481-104-5
CDN $16.95 | US $16.95

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Finalist for the 2013 Griffin Poetry Prize

Finalist for the 2013 ReLit Award for Poetry

Winner of the 2013 Alberta Book Cover/Jacket Design Award

Finalist for the 2013 Robert Kroetsch Poetry Award

These are not love poems. These are almost-love poems. Jittery, plaintive, and fresh, the poems in Ian Williams’ Personals are voiced through a startling variety of speakers who continually rev themselves up to the challenge of connecting with each other, often to no avail. Williams writes in traditional poetic forms: ghazals, a pantoum, blank sonnets, mock-heroic couplets. He also invents his own: poems that spin into indeterminacy, poems that don’t end. With a deft hand and playful ear, Williams entices the reader to stumble alongside his characters as they search, again and again, for intimacy, for love, and for each other.

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Reviews and Interviews

“Ian Williams: Poet Seeking Reader,” National Post, June 7, 2013.

“Ian Williams Takes the Magic 8,” CBC Canada Writes, April 30. 2013.

“The Griffin Prize Q&A: Ian Williams,” The Afterword, April 19, 2013.

Personals, his second book of poetry, is also thoroughly contemporary: it revolves around love and longing in the digital age, when personal interaction is increasingly mediated by forms of technology such as smart phones. Witty and linguistically playful, these poems are explorations of different situations where intimacy is sought or hoped for or thwarted, and they cycle through a range of speakers and tones — from wistful to flirty, and brisk to plaintive… many of the speakers in Personals are unlucky in love. But that doesn’t stop the poems themselves from strongly connecting with readers.”
– Barbara Carey, Toronto Star

“I bet you didn’t listen when I told you to read Ian Williams’ debut poetry collection, You Know Who You Are, two years ago. And maybe you won’t read the Toronto poet’s fantastic follow-up, Personals. And you would again be worse off for it, because Williams has a way with ballooning inconsequential small moments into great significance like a moony newspaper personals’ writer. Williams uses the hook of newspaper personals to not only showcase his talent but highlight how aware we all are of everything nowadays yet feel we’ve missed the magic moment. “Aren’t you tired of understanding things?” Williams asks in Stranger. “Pity that you got a smart phone and lost the lost look you used to wear.” Williams’ words ramble and bramble like racquetballing thoughts, seeing everything, gathering worry and hope like an avalanche, without an open mouth and heart to let it out. So we are left spinning in circles, like in Williams’ Rings, which ends in Ouroboros-esque loops, such as “The problem is we don’t know who … the problem is we don’t know who …” 
– Mike Landry, Telegraph-Journal