Knock-Off Monarch

Crystal StoneTHE BOOK: Knock-Off Monarch

PUBLISHED IN: December 2018

THE AUTHOR: Crystal Stone

THE EDITOR: Val Brkich

THE PUBLISHER: Dawn Valley Press

SUMMARY: Knock-Off Monarch is a collection of poetry ruminating on poverty, closeted queerness, family, and religious stories that previously limited self-definition. It’s a coming-of-age book, processing the transition from home into a more professional world.

THE BACK STORY: The poems in Knock-Off Monarch were written over the course of five years; I didn’t initially imagine them all together in a manuscript. One day, I printed every poem I ever wrote and started to see some narrative patterns emerge and I wrote, edited, deleted until the manuscript came together.

WHY THIS TITLE: Sometimes I feel like an imposter, like a knock-off monarch. These poems work through that isolation and interrogate it.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: They are also questioning their upbringing, the stories they grew up hearing. Maybe they’re feeling like a knock-off monarch, too.


“Here she goes, out of the gate ready to swing her punches and swing herself in a kind of dance and play and tussle. I love this book for its delights. I love it for its shout-outs and assertions of the poet’s self in the community of writers and art and commitment to a way of life that is poetry. She is here to stay, she is staking her claim in this place and she is generous in her gifts and contributions. I had the privilege of seeing Crystal Stone perform and if you get a chance, it’s worth a ticket or a day trip or a sneak peak online, if you can find a video. She’s got a lot to say and she has the deft skills and inborn talent and has driven herself with the constant work and labor of craft—a labor of love. Her poems connect and connect and connect and she is relentless in her deconstruction of truth, lived experience, the quotidian and the personal as political. It’s a fun book. It’s a serious book. It’s a warrior’s book. And all of these powers are shamanic in their healing and sustaining forces.” – Heather Derr-Smith, author of The Bride Minaret, Thrust, and Tongue Screw

“Bullet points and air quotes. Cocoon and echo. Crystal Stone’s Knock-Off Monarch is an outskirt instructional on how to locally respond to, and spiritually receive, those forms that absentmindedly claim to have our vacancies surrounded. In voice, the work appears as a bruise on the neck of one gargling an invisible blood. In word, the work worries that the half-full cup has slipped its mirror. In both, the bruise disappears because it’s been seen. If mothers and men are given first a mask disguised as a face and third a daycare center overseen by a Christlike figure, the speaker here allows death to count aloud its own in the middle of a city that makes no sound well. None of these poems escape protection. Becoming is not retroactive, and how moving it is, this anxious vigil Stone keeps for the second self that is otherhood.” – Barton Smock, author of ghost arson

AUTHOR PROFILE: Crystal Stone is a poet and MFA candidate at Iowa State University. Her poetry has previously appeared or is forthcoming in The Threepenny Review, The Hopkins Review, Salamander, Poetry Daily and many others. In April 2018, she gave a TEDx talk entitled “The Transformative Power of Poetry.” Her second collection of poetry, All the Places I Wish I Died, is forthcoming from CLASH Books in 2021.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: This book is a labor of years disconnected, in the liminal space between gay and straight, child and woman, daughter and mother, white and blue collar. No matter where I went, I felt like an imposter. This is my story, and the stories I’ve created for myself where I can exist, comfortably.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). Some poems from Knock-Off Monarch were recently uploaded to Iowa State Daily. Check them out here:

LOCAL OUTLETS: Wooden Shoe (Philadelphia, PA), Francie + Finch (Lincoln, NE), Subtext (Minneapolis, MN), Our Daily Nada (Kansas City, MO), Voyageur (Milwaukee, WI), A Room of One’s Own (Madison, WI), Beaverdale Books (Des Moines, IA), Uncharted Books (Chicago, IL), Bookbug (Kalamazoo, MI), Crazy Wisdom (Ann Arbor, MI), Pages (Detroit, MI), Fire Side Books (Chagrin Falls, OH), and The Brewed Book (Davenport, IA).


PRICE: $9.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR:; Twitter @justlikeastone8, Instagram @justlikeastone and @stone.flowering

Published by


Recently retired after 35 years with the News & Advance newspaper in Lynchburg, VA, now re-inventing myself as a novelist/nonfiction writer and writing coach in Lake George, NY.

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