I Know Your Kind

Milkweed. Sept. 2017. 88p. ISBN 9781571314956. pap. $16. POETRY
Brewer opens this pointedly forthright debut collection with an epigraph explaining that the town of Oceana, WV, was nicknamed Oxyana for its high incidence of OxyContin abuse, and the name surfaces throughout this chronicle of addiction and social consequence. "Bars, pool halls,/ neighbors turn me away, but not churches" says one speaker unpityingly (he's actually looking for air conditioning) and, after an overdose, "Oblivion is liberating." Elsewhere, a brother shuts the door on a user ("You can't come here anymore, not like this") and a man comes to after being mugged by an addict with rain in his face "clear as gin." The tragedy keeps coming—the epigraph further explains that heroin has replaced OxyContin as the drug of choice, with West Virginia now claiming the highest fatal overdose rate in America. But the tone is less cri de coeur than calm, determined observation.
VERDICT Though occasionally one wants more edge, this is a thoughtful collection that can be approached by all readers.

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