Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing

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Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing

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“What is it they say about / love? That it’s only possession reimagined. That / it lives outside the body. That it’s florid & empty / & cheating & thankful for so much, so much / it doesn’t know how to name. All her life the girl / has eaten. Now it’s your turn. Doorbell ring. / Quiet bruise. Price of deadly. Anything is yours / if you swallow it.”

Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing is an award-winning, omnivorous collection of poetry residing in the space between confessional & manifesto. Portrait is interested in the immediacy of language; in girlhood as wolfhood; in the cartography of illness; in fractures through the dark; in bodies, human & water alike. Luminous, tender, & unflinching, Portrait cuts straight to the marrow. To all those whose bodies have been more bruise than human—who feel so loudly the sky turns black in fear—this book is for you.

Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing was chosen as a finalist in the 2018 Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize by Signapore Unbound, & in the 2018 Broken River Prize by Platypus Press. This collection contains the poems “Guidebook for Wild Things Wishing to Be Tamed”, “Self-Diagnosis”, “Trigger”, “For H”, “But First, the Stomach”, “New York City Probably Has an Anxiety Disorder”, “Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing”, “Flood Season”, “Lightning / Hunger”, “If the Body Is an Artefact”, “Infernal / Inferno”, “When My First Boyfriend Learned I Was on Anti-Psychotics, He Laughed & Told Me He Always Suspected I Was Crazier Than I Let On”, “Alternate Names for Gay Girls”, “Quell”, “On the First Day, God Killed Himself”, “Mealtime”, “The Night You Are Diagnosed”, “Still”, “Serenade to Surrender”, “Lone / Pack”, “High Specific Heat”, “Panic Attack as Airplane Departure Time”, “Dream Sequence”, “Pandora”, “Insomnia”, “Event Horizon”, “50 Words for Snow”, “This Is a Story About Mourning”, “Healing Is”, “July”, “Call Me Before You Leave Again”, & “Hands”.

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“The unflinchingly brilliant and reflective words of Topaz Winters will leave you breathless and profoundly understood. Each poem serves as a window into a technicolor memory. Winters is courageous and keenly observant, a fiercely poignant voice I predict will thunder for years to come.”

—Blythe Baird, viral spoken word poet & award-winning author of If My Body Could Speak

“‘This is the way a girl becomes a bomb,’ Topaz Winters declares, in this ticking register of girlhood, illness, and queer desire. Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing is a palimpsest, upon which Winters writes and rewrites every nightmare and fairytale made up in the caverns of her glorious imagination. The work is haunted with such hope, nerve and tenderness that break the heart open.”

—Logan February, author of Mannequin in the Nude & associate director at Dovesong Labs

Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing is a book in which tenderness has given way to hunger, both literal and of the soul. Queer desire, mental illness, and loving a girl likened to the moon in poems sharp and explosive. … Love and desire cleave two sick girls together, the journey of their ascent and descent chronicled in poems so bright with want they ache, they cut. … This collection ends softly. It ends with forgiveness. Topaz Winters takes you to the edge of destruction and holds out a saving hand, inviting you into the warmth of healing.”

Crystal Vega-Huerta for Life In Poetry

“Winters has a way with words, in a technical sense, that drew me in and held me. I loved every bit of it. … I couldn’t bring myself to downplay how I feel about this collection of poetry. From the first page, the first poem, Winters’s words hooked me and had me wanting more. I was entranced. I found myself pausing, slowly reading to take in what was on the page. The focus on queerness was extremely raw and so well written, I found myself tearing up in places. There was so much vulnerability in this collection and I swear, I saw so many things … that ripped me wide open and it’s a bit difficult to verbalize. The utter rawness of their words is amazing and moving. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a collection that is full of emotion. I think it is one that everyone should try to read at least once.”

Rhiannon Blackmoore for Blackmoore’s Musings

“If you’re hollow, a robotic intellect, an emotional pragmatist, this breathless poetry isn’t for you. If you haven’t known danger because you never rubbed ecstatically against passion’s razor, drawing more than blood every time, this isn’t for you. If you haven’t desired past drowning, clawing or swimming to the surface only to free-fall into shards of light, you haven’t known love, life has been a waste—and this poetry isn’t for you.”

—Cyril Wong, author of Below: Absence & Oneiros

“Just exquisite. Here, Topaz Winters puts forth some of her best work. She finds words of intrigue, colors, and movements, and puts them together in all the right ways. Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing paints a devastating portrait of experiences all-encompassing: both universal and specific, both earth-shaking and heartfelt. Brilliantly introspective, this book is for anyone who has fought against and resented and embraced and loved their own vessel.”

Sophie Falkenheim, reader

“The bold vulnerability of Winters' writing shines through in every word, particularly in the titular masterpiece of this collection. .... Portrait does not disappoint. It ebbs and engulfs in just the right places, leaving a very balanced yet hard hitting impact on the reader's mind.”

C.S. for Ceiling Shards

“I loved the distinction between physical hunger, which was portrayed as cold and restrained, and the hot wolf-like hunger of love and lust. The contrast between the two made each poem more impactful. … Reading [this book] made my heart rate spike up because my initial reaction was to look away. I shouldn’t be reading this. We’re not supposed to say this, even if that’s what we are thinking. These poems forced me to take a look at myself and consider why I held those things as taboos. … Since the collection brought me in so quickly, by the time I got to the sections I could have been intimidated by I was ready to read on and grow. The description of confessional & manifesto is well deserved and I don’t doubt that I will get even more out of it was I reread and reread it.”

Méliane for Bookish Mimich

“The rawness of emotion was evident in each poem. To me, the poems did not seem beautiful, like delicate flowers; no, their beauty lay in the truth they conveyed, and in the strength with which they conveyed it. This collection is edgy. There is love, lust and pain. … I'm in awe of Topaz's talent.”

Tanvi for Tanvi’s Readventures

“There are few writers that I struggle to pin down as much as I do with Topaz Winters. Something about the way she can twine images so neatly to collective feelings of yearning and persistence and absolute necessity is breathtaking in every sense of the word. Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing is an homage to light and all the ways it touches us and all the ways it abandons us in times of need but still manages to return. This is a collection about love, the ways we both survive it and grow with it, and desire, and the way night fades delicately into the dawn (always, always). There is a loud voice in my head begging me to also state that this is her most personal collection to date, but is it? Is it really? Winters gives you the impression of ‘maybe this, or maybe not’ that is unmistakeable, and lingering, and incredibly effective. You are not meant to know everything. This is clear. This is riveting. You can’t help but keep looking at it. … Topaz Winters is a poet to keep your eye on. If you haven’t noticed her yet, you will. She’ll make sure of it.”

Caitlin Conlon, author of Cavity

Portrait of My Body as a Crime I’m Still Committing throbs with the conviction and passion of young adulthood—it is a force, movement, struggle, growth.”

—Wong May, author of Picasso’s Tears & Superstitions

“With Portrait, Topaz Winters manages to both break your heart and reassemble within the same story. There’s a fever present beneath the words, all at once delicate and severe. From the heatstroke of falling in love with something just out of your grip, to the all too familiar quiet turmoil we suffer through mental illness—Topaz writes as if she’s rehashing a personal conversation, and we’re all pressing our ears to the door, overeager eavesdroppers, desperately wanting to know how the end plays out.”

Angelea Lowes, author of Phantom Touch & Swan Song of the Summer

“What I think must be said about Portrait is that it is not a book you read and forget about. Topaz Winters strings words together like a melody, and, like a song, her words stay in the back of my mind, always there. It’s a thought both comforting and frightening, that words have the power to stay with you in such a permanent way. Either way, I think it says a lot about the kind of writer Topaz is; that is to say: a magnificent one. … If any piece of writing has ever made me believe that there’s hope and that healing is a possibility, this is it. … Topaz Winters has been one of my favourite poets for a while now and, after reading this collection, I love her words more than ever before. If you’re a lover of poetry or if you always wanted to get into reading it, I recommend this collection with my whole heart and soul.”

Hannah Rosenthal for Ink & Myths