Episode 30: Paul Meunier Interviews Ian Williams

Feb 15, 2022

In this interview of Ian Williams by Paul Meunier, the conversation focuses on Disorientations, Williams’s latest book that considers the impact of racial encounters on ordinary people, but also offers listeners a sampling of Williams’s work from past to present. Open and vulnerable in both conversation and content, Williams and Meunier cover a wide breadth of topics: the avoidance of discomfort, how genre acts as a constraint, how conversations on creative nonfiction often obfuscate the pronouncement of beauty, and more. Through this conversation, Williams and Meunier examine the personal in three global crises, and the importance of connecting to communities during these times.

Paul Meunier is currently an English Ph.D. candidate at the University of Calgary. Paul’s poetry explores spaces between experimental form and subject representation, and his work has been published in NōD Magazine, filling Station Magazine, The Anti-Languorous Project, the UBC Okanagan Humanities Graduate Student Anthology, and more. Paul’s SSHRC-funded dissertation, “Poetic Refractions,” navigates Calgary’s queer history through experimental poetry, exploring how atemporal crossings weave between past, present, and a poetics of queer futurity. Paul also studied photography at the Alberta College of Art + Design, now AUArts, back when chemical processing was still hip.

Ian Williams is the author of six books of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.  His novel, Reproduction, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize and was published in Canada, the US, the UK, and Italy. His poetry won the Raymond Souster Award and was shortlisted for the Griffin poetry prize. His latest book, Disorientation, considers the impact of racial encounters on ordinary people. His short story collection, Not Anyone’s Anything, won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada. He is a trustee for the Griffin Poetry Prize.

Show notes:
04:55 – How has it been for Ian Williams?
08:45 – Disorientation and dealing with three global crises.
11:53 – Pairings in Ian’s books: poetry and prose, the public and the private, You Know Who You Are and Not Anyone’s Anything.
12:10 – Personals and Reproduction.
12:25 – Word Problems and Disorientation.
14:48 – Paul and Ian discuss genre.
16:45 – Zong! by NourbeSe Philip and Injun by Jordan Abel.
19:28 – The state of discomfort.
22:20 – Reading from Disorientation.
25:13 – Beauty as a response to Creative non-fiction
29:28 – Avoidance, evasiveness, and vulnerability.
35:30 – Ian Williams evaluates Paul’s undergrad poems.
38:20 – Word Problems and the question of ethics.
48:26 – The figure of the child.
54:09 – Connecting to communities during covid times.
56:25 – What’s next for Ian Williams?

TIA House recognizes the generous support of the Canada Research Chairs program and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. We also appreciate the support of the Faculty of Arts and the Department of English at the University of Calgary, where our offices are housed, as well as the guidance of Marc Stoeckle at the Taylor Family Digital Library.

TIA House is run by Larissa Lai, Shuyin Yu, Ryan Stearne, Shazia Ramji, Marc Lynch, Paul Meunier, and Mahmoud Ababneh.

Our Intro/Outro music is Monarch of the Streets by Loyalty Freak Music, accessed from the Free Music Archive.


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