I’ve bought quite a few new poetry books in the past couple of weeks, so I thought I would kick off my impromptu poetry bonanza with this gem of a collection. Topaz Winters is a 16-year-old poet, whose debut collection, Heaven or This, is an absolute tour-de-force. Some of the poems are honey-sweet, and some of them invite fire and ash. I’ve read them about three times, and each time I am struck by the simultaneous youth and maturity that pervade through her words. For the most part, the poems focus on lesbian relationships, and in particular, first love.
It is a gross understatement to say that they are magical. Every poem is full of fiery passion, and yet maintains a sort of quiet dignity. These are the poems of a young writer who knows what she’s doing, and what she’s talking about. I was especially struck by the poem The Rememberings, which discusses lesbian representation in the media – in particular, the message that ‘here are two girls in love, and one of them/is going to die‘. But Winters turns this on its head, and here, ‘drowning is only a metaphor’.
Some of my favourite quotes include:
she tells me love is the most beautiful natural disaster
and for the first time, my tsunami heart believes it.
(i am kissing her in the backmost pew of the church
as the preacher spins sermons of pseudo-salvation
for the souls of girls who think other girls are beautiful)
My body is a country pulled three different
ways, trampled into topography of wanting.
(Love in Goddess-Speak)
For more poetry by Topaz Winters, visit her Patreon. I expect beautiful and monstrous things from this poet, I truly do. I wish I could have read her at 16 – I think it would have done a lot for me to realise that other girls had feelings like this, too.