poems for the sound of the sky before thunder, 2017

"I ask only this: / if the sadness must stay, / at least let me dream it to water. / Let deliverance be the clouds / & healing the coming storm. / Let me wake to the sound of sky / filling up every broken promise. / Let me rain until I am cleaner / than I ever expected to be."

poems for the sound of the sky before thunder is a collection that tiptoes the infinitely blurred lines between hurting, hoping, & healing. It speaks of sleepless nights & softened tongues, telling a story dreaming & bone-bright & out of focus in the rain. These poems are only as much for losing as they are for finding, only as much for despair as they are for the light scattered within it, only as much for leaving as they are for finally coming home.

A collection of poetry from Math Paper PressDebuted at the Singapore Writers Festival on November 4, 2017. The book inspired the dance performance “Rain” at the 2018 World’s Loneliest Bookstore installation by BooksActually. You can talk about poems for the sound of the sky before thunder on social media using the hashtag #psstbook.

This collection contains the poems “Undrowning”, “What I Think About When I Think About Nooses”, “Parallel Blue #7”, “After You”, “Scientific Theory of Lost Girl”, “Breakup Poem”, “Song”, “Coda At an Empty Train Station, 3:27 AM”, “Poem for My Girls”, “Rain”, “Portrait of a Baby Brother, In the Early Morning”, “Story”, “February’s Lament”, “Morning, Empty”, “Anagapesis”, “Duologies”, “How to Haunt (For Absolute Beginners)”, “5:45 AM / 8:15 PM”, “Homespace (Hustle)”, “Antidote”, “Battlefield”, “Self Portrait as Various Things My Mother Has Said to Me During Panic Attacks”, “Transatlanticism”, “God Is—”, “Here / Where You Are”, “Vantage Point”, “Heartland”, “Evolution / Revolution (or: Two Years Ago Today I was Diagnosed with Depression & Anxiety)”, “Faith”, & “Lullaby Starting With Forgiveness”.

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“[A] dreamy debut collection.”

Olivia Ho for The Straits Times

“I’ve read many works attempting to capture the essence of girlhood as Winters has done—through love & loss, hurt & healing, light & dark—but none have done so as masterfully as she has. Topaz is a magician, a weaver of words into spells and songs that will carry you through the dark with whispers of light. … There are so many reasons to love Topaz’s book. They write with such fierce tenderness and aching, and although the universe is large and full of sadness, they share it with you and manage to make it a little brighter.”

—Stephanie Tom, reader

“A powerful and moving collection of work.”

M.F. Yasmin, reader

“There’s a quiet power to the words, a gentle crescendo of movement. poems for the sound of sky before thunder includes clever play on words and wonderful sentences. The turns of phrases is almost haunting and they resonate deep within you. These poems will appeal to something within you: a tension, the pain, our longing.”

Lili for Utopia State of Mind

“Topaz Winters is quickly becoming one of my favorite poets, and her newest collection was an absolute joy to read. I loved its focus on healing. … Mental illness is almost always best spoken about through poetry and poems for the sound of the sky before thunder weaves through the topic with so much grace. … I 100% recommend this collection to you all, and I am very grateful for this chance to read it.”

abigail pearson for whimsy writer

"Everything Winters writes makes me feel like she is a long-lost friend of mine. She frames her experiences in delicate terms that bite when I least expect it. I seem to have found bits of myself living alongside her words, which makes for the best kind of poetry." 

Niya, reader

“Winters’ collection is both the storm and the silver lining. It starts out well and keeps getting stronger with each poem. … In these poems, I kept finding the reasons to standing back up and fighting, amidst all the pain.”

jeremy mifsud for poetry by jeremy

At 32 pages, this book can, in theory, be read quickly; however, the poems are so beautiful and dense with feeling that readers will want to take their time with Topaz's words. This collection of poetry tells a cohesive story about mental illness, healing, and everything in between. Topaz experiments with form while staying true to her style, one that is refreshing and bold and so very, so heart-achingly honest. I started keeping track of my favorite lines before I realized that doing so would result in a list that was almost as long as the book. poems for the sound of the sky before thunder succeeds in what all good art should do: remind us that we are not alone.”

Katie Gilgour, reader

“Winters does with words what no one else does. Boundless, elegant, somehow sharp and soft at the same time. I like to read poetry that has a kick to it, that leaves me feeling like I’ve been hit in the ribs sometimes. This book does just that. … I for one have no idea how Winters writes these—how they write with such depth and care dedicated to each one. It is, in fact, astounding. Worth a read. Worth several reads. Worth a home on your bookshelf.”

sophie falkenheim, reader

“I was going to try and choose a favourite poem but it's impossible to rank them; they all make me feel so deeply in their own ways. poems for the sound of the sky before thunder is beautiful, heartfelt, and touches on so many emotions I don't often allow myself to feel. I have no words. This book is a staple on my bookshelf and I often find myself flipping through the pages again and again. Topaz's voice pierces my soul and puts into words thoughts and feelings that I don't know how to convey myself.”

Ashlee culmsee, reader

“Topaz Winters writes of the many different kinds of longing in the tenderest, most stunning ways. She longs for quiet, for girlhood, for the chance to forget and the chance to remember. This collection feels like home for so many that want and bloom in the same way that Topaz does—it’s comforting, in that we have someone describing what we may have never had the words for. poems for the sound of the sky before thunder gives the reader permission to try and find beauty even in the ugliest parts of their life. Chances like that are always opportune.”

Lyd Havens, author of i gave birth to all the ghosts here

“A stunning collection from Topaz Winters, each poem beautifully unique. The discussions of mental, recovery, and healing are so incredibly raw, driving the pain and strength right into your heart. I felt like I was living this reality, feeling the pain and the joy, the heartbreak, and more. The commentary on religion and portrayal of a complicated relationship with it resonated in me as well, the thoughtful introspection felt in every word of these poems. In addition, the poems of a woman loving a woman, from the pure infatuation to the devastating heartbreak—I felt all of it.”

sofia jackson for that booky girl

“Broke my heart & healed it at the same time.”

Caroline Grand-Clement, reader

“This collection has so much power behind it. Topaz does an astounding job of expressing the hurting and the sleepless nights found within the part of yourself that you're losing, but she also expresses just how much there is to find of yourself in the light of healing.”

McKayla Debonis for M.D.

“A powerful poetry collection and one that spoke to the girl I was.”

Crystal vega-huerta, reader

“poems for the sound of the sky before thunder is a searching in the dark for the bright soul of the self. it is wading through the memories of heartbreak and held hands. It is a city light by a train stop flickering in time with your breath. It is reclaiming. it is this body alive, now, and fully yours again. … What a wondrous accomplishment. These poems reach every heart broken, every womxn looking to find a place their own. This book could speak to any soul, and every soul should give it the chance to do so.”

Kara Goughnour for get lit

“A remarkable poetry collection from a very talented young voice; doubly remarkable for the fact that the author is only 18 years old. Her writing is full of confidence and grace, and explores a variety of deep subjects in a sensitive way … Definitely a writer to watch, with a full career in front of her.”

Jason Erik Lundberg, founding editor of LONTAR & author of Red Dot Irreal

“Delicate yet devastating … an impressive achievement.”

Grace Chia, author of Mother of All Questions

“Where does one start with a collection as ephemeral as this? Topaz is a weather system in her own right throughout this book, manifesting in both the lightest of rainfalls and deadliest of storms. ... Topaz writes with a wisdom beyond her years, acting as a very necessary bridge between the childlike joy of existence and the reality of settling into one's life. The poems here are honest, and soft -- to read them feels like getting letters from an old friend. … PSST is both the thunder, and the space between it. For storm chasers and storm weatherers alike, these poems won't disappoint.”

caitlin conlon, author of cavity

“[Winters] is a master in the description of healing, of hurting, of loving, of longing, of breaking … She describes a journey with mental illness that is different from mine, but I still find my own experiences in her words, and I love that feeling of being able to relate, of being heard, of being understood.”

Inge van de Kraats for Of Wonderland

“A simmering meditation on forgiveness, growth, and identity ... I couldn’t bring myself to rush through these poems. Instead, I enjoyed revisiting the same piece a few times, at different times during the same day, often flipping back a few pages to seek out the connections between the piece I was currently reading and one from earlier. There is renewed strength and a different, sharper edge to Topaz Winters’ poems that I greatly enjoyed reading and I cannot wait to see what treasures she gives her readers in the future.”

Margaryta Golovchenko, author of Pastries and Other Things History Has Tried to Choke Us With