CICADA: One of our favorite lines from “Cherry Blossoms” is “and she hands me cherry blossoms / in the shape of defiance.” Can you talk a little bit more about the relationship between soft, beautiful things and defiance?
TOPAZ WINTERS: I believe softness and defiance are interdependent; one cannot hope to exist without the influence of the other. The push-and-pull juxtaposition of both tends to crop up often in my work, perhaps because I write extensively about mental illness and healing from the trauma created by our own minds. I believe that, in a world that consistently pushes us to toughen up and sharpen our edges, the truest defiance is in softness. It is the most beautiful type of revolution. Opening up to love, even when others urge us to shut down. Choosing tenderness, even when it is foreign and uncomfortable. Again and again and again.
CIC: “Love in Goddess-Speak” deals with the feeling of being caught between two cultures. How can poetry help you find a balance when you are feeling pulled in many directions? How does it help you explore and celebrate all your identities?
TW: As someone with three anxiety disorders (and, quite simply, as someone who feels very deeply in general), I am rarely at peace—my head is a stormy and tumultuous place, singing with memory and yearning and wonder. Some days I think I will never find a place where I can come to rest, as i