Oxyana by William Brewer

Winner of the 2016 PSA Chapbook Fellowship

by William Brewer, selected and introduced by Marilyn Nelson

Edition: 500 copies of the winning books were printed by the Prolific Group and designed by Gabriele Wilson, with covers by Charlotte Flory.


Or how often I thought, simply, Wow. William Brewer’s Oxyana presents a portrait of a community writhing in crisis. Bleak, raw, wrenching.

—Marilyn Nelson

The Worst Version

Even the streetlights
would turn away from me,
pretending I’m not there.
It must be how the dead feel.
Unlike the cold, or dark,
disdain remains as long
as it needs to do its work.
I wanted to tell everyone,
but couldn’t, so I told
the pigeons—that this
me, the worst version
of ourselves, like cancer,
is already in us, a cleft
in the rung of a gene,
open, waiting for an
agitator, a mistake made
to be filled, perfectly,
by its own false god.

All rights reserved. Reprinted with the permission of the author.

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