Amy Berkowitz

Tender Points

is a narrative fractured by trauma. Named after the diagnostic criteria for fibromyalgia, the book-length lyric essay explores sexual violence, gendered illness, chronic pain, and patriarchy through the lenses of lived experience and pop culture (Twin Peaks, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, noise music, etc.).


Tender Points is available from Timeless, Infinite Light and Small Press Distribution, and now as an e-book from Emily Books. Interested in teaching Tender Points? Check out the teaching guide. Also works nicely as a book group guide. 


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“TENDER POINTS does precisely what people are always saying can’t be done—it combines a moving, distilled, literary journey with advocacy and even pedagogy, here about trauma, chronic pain, patriarchy, and more… This is firm, high-stakes speech speaking truth to power, radiating beauty and fierceness from its inspiring insistence and persistence.”  —Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

“Any feminist punk, nerd, arty woman who is struggling with ‘mystery’ illness should read TENDER POINTS. It’s the heaviest book in the best way, the kind that provides motivation.”  —Sini Anderson, director of The Punk Singer and So Sick

“An exquisite, lyrical exploration of chronic pain, Tender Points is a standout this year.” The Kenyon Review (Kenyon Review’s Holiday Reading Recommendations, 2016)

 “Amy Berkowitz is a poet, which lends itself seamlessly to her careful, cutting memoir about fibromyalgia, trauma and identity. In this short, lyrical work the author takes an unflinching eye toward dark moments, bringing about understanding and resilience underneath.”  —The Huffington Post

“TENDER POINTS is a stunning work of feminist literary nonfiction about trauma and chronic pain. I read it without stopping.”  —Johanna Fateman, co-editor of Last Days at Hot Slit

“I was entranced and moved by Amy Berkowitz’s TENDER POINTS. It’s a difficult book to describe (in a good way), a kind of personal detective story about trauma and the body that interrogates chronic pain literature and ’90s cartoons, noise music and Anne Carson, medical listserv comment boards and video art. It’s urgent, haunting, meticulously crafted, darkly comic, and it has the strangest, smartest structure of anything I’ve read this year. Truly unclassifiable. —Brian Gittis, Farrar, Strauss & Giroux (FSG’s Favorite Books of 2016)

“Amy Berkowitz poses only perfectly built, unanswerable questions in this evocative lyric essay on illness, memory, and the terror and joy of becoming oneself.”  —Katie Assef, Diesel Books, Oakland, CA

“TENDER POINTS has a particular place in my heart… I had years of therapy behind me, but it was only in reading this book that I allowed myself to consider my history of trauma, a history deeply connected to the story of all women.” —Julie Delporte, author of This Woman’s Work

“A movement toward regarding chronic pain, trauma, patriarchy not as the ghosts they are often painted as, but as things visceral, immediate, constant. Berkowitz writes from a place of undeniable poetics and strength.”  —John Rossiter, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA

“TENDER POINTS is short and tough, a personal but unsentimental chronicle of trauma and chronic pain, delivered in a series of blunt, intimate fragments.”  —Longreads

“Amy Berkowitz has written a powerful, thought-provoking, and occasionally darkly funny book on trauma and chronic pain. Would recommend to anyone who loves Bluets, The Empathy Exams, or Heroines by Kate Zambreno.”  —Leigh Stein, author of The Fallback Plan





  • Listen to an excerpt recorded at Quiet Lightning in San Francisco.

  • Read an excerpt on the VIDA blog.

  • Read my thoughts on writing about gender and illness on the Uprooted Anthology website.

Add it on Goodreads:  Tender Points