Get Lit: POEMS FOR THE SOUND OF THE SKY BEFORE THUNDER by Topaz Winters

get lit is a collaboration between kara goughnour and john p. maurer. find a drink recipe based on this collection, as well as a video detailing THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE DRINK and A DRUNK REVIEW OF HEARING THE UNDERWATER at the bottom of this page.


Poems for the sound of the sky before thunder by topaz winters 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.

in my reading of the first few poems, i was astonished yet searching. the poems were dripping off the page like nectar into a hummingbird beak, and I needed the poem to slow me down, to bring me fully into this world of sky and sound and girl aflame. “Coda at an Empty Train Station, 6:27 a.m.” is where the narrative really hit me. This whole book is internal, floating. It is a mind drifting from one thought to the next, almost at the edge of sleep, with blips of reality sparking through and lighting the image of the new girl yet to become. in “Coda at an Empty Train Station, 6:27 a.m.,” in this waiting and wading through thoughts at the train station, this poem becomes the tonal epitome of the chapbook. you are waiting with her. you are wading with her. you are cheering at each moment that the girl realizes herself a power and not a possession.


poems for the sound of the sky before thunder has an extremely vast reach, a possible connection with the non-poetic or non-academic audience, and what a wondrous accomplishment that is. 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.


with this accomplishment, however, comes a slight amount of purposeful sacrifice. there is obvious and intentional limitation in the word variance, with topical words like “Girl” and “Tender” often repeated. in this limitation, there is bravery. there is no hiding the topic matter of this book. there is no keeping secret what is at stake. however, through the chapbook, there are brilliant, firecracker sparks of word pairings bursting on the tongue, and it is in these moments that the intentional limitation is often broken. it’s almost a result of greed that i ask for more of these moments, and the restraint shown in winters’ writing is something that should ultimately be respected and celebrated.

these poems seep into one another, their themes heavy yet floating at the same moment, with these peeks of light and negativity alike. this chapbook is tied together with immensely impressive conciseness that i have never seen before. its first and last poems bookend it in a beautifully tied bow. in the first poem, undrowning, there are the lines:

“girl with the seagulls that know her name

they are telling her to go back home”

and to carefully cup this chapbook in our hands and hearts, the final poem, “Lullaby Starting with Forgiveness,” holds the lines:

“but wait for me still –

i’m going back for my body

i’m going home”


the poems encompassing the topic of religion came as this awesome shock to me as i ended the chapbook. They feel like this revelation, like a finding of religion to be the method that you pull up out of the dirt. the talk of power and fighting are no longer just goal or daydream. this is the moment of realizing accomplishment through faith. it is bowing before your creator, your mother, yourself. it is taking the body back without reservation or exception. it is going home.


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Topaz Winters (they/she) is a poet, essayist, editor, creative director, speaker, scholar, actress, & multidisciplinary artist working with a foundation in literature. Among her internationally award-winning & critically-acclaimed creative credits include working as the author of four books (most recently Portrait of My Body As a Crime I’m Still Committing, a finalist in the Gaudy Boy Poetry Book & Broken River Prizes), writer & star of the short film SUPERNOVA (dir. Ishan Modi, recipient of awards from the Newark International, Across Asia Youth, Laurie Nelson, My Rode Reel, Singapore International Student, & CINE Golden Eagle Film Festivals), editor-in-chief & creative director at the arts organisation Half Mystic, speaker of the TEDx talk Healing Is a Verb, & creator of the digital art installation Love Lives Bot on Twitter. Her research on poetry, identity, & the sociopolitical underpinnings of queerness in Singapore is published in the Journal of Homosexuality, the oldest & most famous peer-reviewed journal focused on the study of gender & sexuality.


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AFTER THE THUNDER

BLOOD ORANGE GELATO

VANILLA BEAN ICE CREAM

VODKA

WHIPPED CREAM

CHAMPAGNE MANGO PUREE

CHAMPAGNE MANGO, CUT INTO STAR SHAPE


GET LIT IS A COLLABORATION BETWEEN WRITERS KARA GOUGHNOUR AND JOHN P. MAURER. kara goughnour is a queer writer and documentarian living in pittsburgh pennsylvania. she received her bachelor’s degree in creative and professional writing from the university of pittsburgh. She is the recipient of the 2018 gerald stern poetry award, and has work published or forthcoming in third point press, the southampton review, and over twenty others. John Maurer is a 24-year-old writer that writes fiction, poetry, and everything in-between, but his work always strives to portray that what is true is beautiful. He has been previously published in Claudius Speaks, The Bitchin’ Kitsch, Thought Catalog, and more than twenty others. read his collected works on his website, or follow him on twitter.

FOR A LOOK INTO THE INSPIRATION BEHIND THE DRINK, AS WELL AS A DRUNK REVIEW OF HEARING THE UNDERWATER BY SAVANNAH SLONE, WATCH THE VIDEO on youtube or below.