I Know Your Kind: Poems by William Brewer
Publication date: September 5, 2017
Publisher: Milkweed Editions
Page count: 96
Star rating: 5/5
This is a selection of poetry about the opioid epidemic, focusing on Oceana, West Virginia (sometimes called Oxyana). The poems’ subjects range from detox, halfway houses, withdrawal, to Naloxone. I Know Your Kind is told in the voice of a someone, first hand, struggling with addiction.
I wish I could add more to my brief summary of this collection, as it’s far beyond merely a selection of poems told in the voice of an opioid addict. These poems have so much substance to them; they’re very powerful. They are powerful for two reasons– they can teach readers about the realities of addiction and they can make other addicts feel less alone in their struggles. I was extremely pleased with how touching, emotional, and human the voice in the poems read. I truly think this is an amazing work.
I want to highlight some lines that really blew me away.
“Who can stand another night
stealing fistfuls of pills
from our cancer-sick neighbors?”
“We were so hungry; Tom’s hand
on the table looked like it was warm bread.
I crushed it with a hammer”
Going back and reading all of the places I marked in this book (there were a lot of sticky tabs!) prove how raw and honest William Brewer’s words are. I’ve never read a work that outlines these particular aspects of addiction: stealing pills from sick individuals and purposely harming oneself or friends to get a prescription for pain medication. These are topics not touched upon in many books about addiction, at least out of the handful that I’ve read. I loved the articulation and authenticity that went into the experiences that William Brewer chose to write about.
I want to tell everyone I know about I Know Your Kind. I think it has the power to educate those who have loved ones that struggle with addiction. I also think this work has the power to unite those struggling with addiction, whether they’re in recovery or not. These two reasons make this collection of poetry one of my favorites that I’ve read not only this year, but in the entire time I’ve run my book review website. I Know Your Kind really hit the mark. I’m so thankful that honest, real poems about the opioid epidemic exist and are accessible for anyone to read and learn from.
I want to give a big ‘thank you’ to Milkweed Editions for agreeing to send me a copy of this work in exchange for an honest review. I wish I had William Brewer’s personal email so I could tell him, myself, how touched I was by his words. I wish I had 20 copies to give out to friends and family to share this collection of bravery and power. I very much look forward to reading more works from Milkweed Editions in the future, as I Know Your Kind was an excellent addition to my blog and my bookshelf of ‘favorites’.