Every Wreckage

Every Wreckage
Ian C. Williams
Fernwood Press


In his first, full-length collection of poetry, Ian C. Williams buries, unearths, and reburies the questions of adolescence and its legacy. These poems, rooted in the mountains and forests of Appalachia, wonder after the insecurities of growing up, the fragility of fatherhood, and the longing that haunts us as we search for stability and direction. With a voice at once razor-edged and tender, Williams traverses a world deep in the underbrush, as wild as it is domestic, brimming with cocoons, cicadas, car crashes, silverware drawers, and dishes that never seem to be done. This collection examines the wreckage of our history and beckons us to "Let it rest" and wait for it to erupt in a "beautiful catastrophe of riotous bloom."

Every Wreckage by Ian C. Williams is the antidote to toxic masculinity that our society needs. I don’t believe I have ever read a collection in which a man questions his childhood, fatherhood, and relationship to others and the world in such a vulnerable way. That toxic masculinity is “this double-edged sword [Williams is] grasping by the blade” in each of these poems. I was blown away by his bravery and the beauty of his poems on every single page.

-Shaindel Beers, author of Secure Your Own Mask, finalist for the Oregon Book Award

Every Wreckage is a sly, haunting, relentless book of big beautiful wounds: childhood violence, homesickness for the dead, the debris of a man’s history and more. It’s a book full of bullets and feathers and secrets all unearthed in the loneliest of spaces. And more than these things, the poems-language haunts each page as Ian C. Williams not only ruminates on the shadows of the past but brings them into focus against the present day. What a gift this debut book of poetry is.

-W. Todd Kaneko, author of This Is How the Bone Sings

With nineties color, potent language, and a gravitational pull to the joyous awkwardness of childhood, Ian C. Williams takes us on a memorable romp through the tears and hayloft leaps of memory. Beautiful and moving.

-Paul J. Pastor, author of Bower Lodge: Poem

In Every Wreckage, Williams explores a glassine interior, a time capsule, where wounds, once held to the knife’s edge, attach forgiveness to memory. In states of griefless grief, love transcends, and it is “harder to tell what is snow and what is ash” as “the orphan and the oracle” lay in the same grave.

Galactic, these poems are blessings, possibilities, sanguine cosmologies.

-Maureen Alsop, author of Pyre

Every Wreckage, Ian C. Williams’s dazzling debut, is a much-needed testament to father- and brotherhood. Through his elegant, controlled sense of form and lyric, Williams positions the reader in thick gardened ground and sly domestic spaces. Cicadas, lukewarm coffee, and the grave cycle throughout the book, marking the territory that Williams has so carefully wrought. Every Wreckage investigates the violence that is so often present in male relationships. But it would be a mistake to say that this book is “about” toxic masculinity. Instead, imbued in every line is the argument that men can be tender and nurturing and warm. While “…every closed door / doesn’t shut out the sounds of another kid / getting his breakfast kicked out of him,” the heart of the book is located in moments such as a late-night ER trip with a pregnant wife and in washing nervous hands repeatedly in the sink. Every Wreckage marries Sylvia Plath’s creeping underbelly of the domestic to Phil Levine’s tender brotherhood of the working class. The speaker confesses many things: depression, culpability, loss. But each time the narrative teeters … Williams pulls us back up again like a tidal wave of grace. A grace that matters. A grace that says, “Every pair of wings a reminder that we’re alive, / that we’re all only a flutter of feathers and birdsong.”

-Remi Recchia, author of Quicksand/Stargazing

This tender collection of poetry sings with bittersweet birdsong. I found myself moved again and again as I read, filled with awe as he concludes, “Everything. Everything. Everything is love.” A beautiful book.

-Joann Renee Boswell, author of Meta-Verse!

Ian C. Williams

was born in Appalachia and teaches English/Language Arts for a living. His poems have been included in Fourteen HillsThe Minnesota ReviewSalamanderHarpur Palate, among other magazines, and his chapbook, House of Bones, was published by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. He lives in Fairmont, West Virginia, with his family.


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