Gym Bras - Crystal Stone
Releases Aug. 15th!
Gym Bras is an exercise diary in poems and, more urgently, an exercise in confronting internalized fatphobia. In her third full-length collection, Crystal Stone candidly explores body dysmorphia, disordered eating, and shame-based exercise habits while flexing on the mythos that women should be seen and not heard (but still look hot). In a culture that worships thinness, weaponizes calorie-counting, and make impossible beauty standards mandatory, Stone wavers between body negativity and positivity, feelings of powerlessness and empowerment, in a way that is not only honest, but deeply felt in the fabric of femme identity.
-- Kim Vodicka, author of The Elvis Machine
Stone’s third collection of poems is both feminist and honest, meta and subtle, unflinching and vulnerable. The theme is quickly articulated with its title Gym Bras followed by the table of contents—which reads like a workout diary, “Rest Day,” “Chest & Back Day,” “Booty Day” and so on. The sections of poems are then divided with quick sketches of gym bras: Racerback, Compression, Encapsulation, etc. The first “Leg Day” poem gives readers further insight into the theme, “I’m always trying / to flatten my chest. Today, to run.” The last “Leg Day” poem leaves the reader unsettled with little resolution, a nod to the cycle we often find ourselves in trying to conform to the demands of a superficial society, “Our bodies blended / liquid. The world a slow / moving container.” Creative and unexpected, the narrative of these poems will pull you in.
-- Trish Hopkinson, author of Footnote
In Gym Bras, Crystal Stone offers a vulnerable and accessible chronicling of one woman’s determination to claim her own body—at the gym, of course, but also in the bedroom. Stone’s poems are targeted workouts: leg days, arm days, rest days, a structure that supports the manuscript’s central dilemma: do we compress ourselves to pull our strength inward or to please a world that wants us smaller? In all of it, Stone declares “we’re not just women. We’re poets…we put our hair in haibuns…We don’t rest, we caesura. We…punctuate our faces, our voices.”
-- Sherre Vernon, author of Green Ink Wings and The Name is Perilous
Provocative yet intimate, Crystal Stone pulls her own bra on and off throughout this collection of embodied, unapologetic poems. The speaker of Gym Bras runs and lifts, reckoning with the pressure of being within the body she has. As she moves through her workout and rest days, struggling to carve out a space for women athletes while feeling comfortable within her own body, her anxiety becomes our own. Stone depicts moments of empowerment but also doubt and failure as she grapples with misogyny. “It’s hard unlearning,” Stone writes, “what I grew up hearing.” Can she ever win? We root for our speaker as she struggles to undo the damage of a culture that requires her to be ever stronger, ever smaller.
--Stacey Balkun, author of Sweetbitter