Book Review Time: Knock-Off Monarch

(Disclosure: I was sent a free copy of this work, in exchange for an honest review.)

When I was younger, I loved reading poetry. But for whatever reason over the years I’ve drifted away from this literary form, primarily indulging in fictional prose. As an avid reader and book lover, my taste is wide-ranging in that particular genre. And I’ve always prided myself on being open-minded in my choice of selections. That being said, I’ve ignored poetry for far too long. And it would seem that after reading Crystal Stone’s Knock-Off Monarch, something was desperately missing from my bookish life.

Knock-Off Monarch is a collection of poems brimming with fierce boldness and raw intensity. The title, as well as the cover art, hint at the prevailing theme of this work. The idea of being an imposter or hiding behind a mask. Outward appearances are only part of the story. And sometimes they’re not even the story at all. They act as a disguise; hiding the reality seething underneath. Stone takes the reader on a gritty, and sometimes unnerving, journey through transformation and self-realization. She experiments with various styles and forms of poetry. One would think that using this approach would have a disjointed effect. But, on the contrary, in this work each poem flows into the next in a way that builds the overall emotional tension. 

Stone is fearless in her questioning of God. In ‘Only’ she writes,’…I dare God to show / his face. I’ve looked all over: the bottom of cereal / boxes, the ice cream truck window, mother’s jewelry / box, my lover’s eyes, a tailgate under the stars.’ She cuts into the primacy of parental figures while also finding moments to self-reflect: ‘I drink whiskey more often than she drank rum, but I have more friends…I wonder if she would be alive if I loved her (excerpt from the poem, ‘On the Anniversary of Mother’s death, pg 81). And Stone takes comical turns, placing biblical figures in unusual scenarios, replacing divinity with humanity. Noah gets carted off to rehab, and it saves his marriage. Peter discusses martyrdom while foraging for mushrooms with Ralph Waldo Emerson. And Moses discovers his wife, Zipporah, has personal aspirations that extend outside of the family home. These moments of quirk, add levity and texture to the collection. 

Since receiving this book, I’ve read through this finely crafted collection of poems more than once. And it gets better with each perusal. Another layer revealing itself through repeated examination. A complex and highly entertaining work, that is worthy of your consideration.


One thought on “Book Review Time: Knock-Off Monarch

Would love to hear what you think, leave a reply

%d bloggers like this: