Amy Berkowitz's lyric essay Tender Points hit me in the face like a pie wielded by a clown — or an anvil wielded by the patriarchy. She has turned a heartbreaking journey as a sexual-assault survivor and a chronic-illness sufferer into an edgy, poetic, and, yes, even funny meditation on where pain lives and how we learn to bear it.
The first thing you have to know about my copy of Color Me Flo is that on the back cover its genre is listed as "Autobiography/Current Scene." That current scene is 1976, and the autobiography is by Florynce Kennedy, the lawyer and activist who participated in the feminist and Black Power movements according to her own rules. She once led a pee-in at Harvard to protest the lack of women's bathrooms; she was arrested along with Ti-Grace Atkinson after demonstrating against Nixon; she spoke at seminars about white racism; and she said one of my favorite quotes of all time: "Oppressed people don't have to have good manners!" I reread this book whenever I feel like there is just no way to keep trying to change things, and I realize that with just one millionth of one percentage of Flo's determination and good cheer, I could make a hell of a difference — and I resolve to try.