Rhea's Reviews > Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing

Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing by Topaz Winters
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it was amazing
bookshelves: 2019-reads, poetry, broke-my-damn-heart, non-fiction, big-poc-energy

I sent Topaz a frenzied DM on Instagram after reading her poem 'Trigger' - a wonderful, poignant articulation of queerness and womanhood. I had just come out of the most awful day, and these specific lines shattered me:

[...] I love the girl.
Can I not have this soft thing, too? On my back & shotgun
to my chest & question on your lips & no more words to
hear.


Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing is brimming with painful, vivid, and emotionally raw moments like this. It is a poetry collection about a love continually pre-empted, a manifesto about the sheer uncomfortableness of existing in a body that you cannot choose. An existence that you have already learned is unacceptable:

Consistently falling, I turn & walk through all
the other nowheres. Robins burrow into my veins
& I allow them there, sliced open & itching still.
What you need to know is I hate my body the way
a cage hates the sky, jealous as only a heretic can be
of a thing in hope-scrawled future tense.
('Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing')

It is poetry that is deeply honest. I don't want to use the word 'confessional', because I think that this book and these words are so much more than a mere extension of Winters' psyche. It's an artistic creation in its own right, one that manifests in breathless, tender, and arresting ways. My favourite poem is perhaps the one that is most different from Winters' usually lush writing style, 'Self-Diagnosis':

I arrival of the fittest.
I forcep. I chest. I failure
in broken breaths. I tragedy.
I exist. I layer of bone
beneath. I swollen holy
grail. I mountain lung. I
torn foreign language.


Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing speaks of articulation, the difficulty of articulation; it speaks of desire and longing; it speaks of hunger. But in between the fault lines of trauma and despair, there are also moments that capture the beauty of existence - an exhilarating car ride, a clandestine touch, the deep ache of yearning. And so it is this entanglement of hope and despair that characterises Winters' writing, and imbues it with a humanity likened to a "soft thing". Soft, in the way that it is so fragile, but also soft, in the way that it is so, so strong.



Thank you to Topaz for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review. 'Portrait of My Body as a Crime I'm Still Committing' comes out May 27.
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Reading Progress

May 7, 2019 – Started Reading
May 7, 2019 – Shelved
May 7, 2019 – Shelved as: 2019-reads
May 7, 2019 – Shelved as: poetry
May 7, 2019 – Shelved as: broke-my-damn-heart
May 8, 2019 – Shelved as: non-fiction
May 8, 2019 – Shelved as: big-poc-energy
May 8, 2019 – Finished Reading

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