In ancient fertility carvings, artists would drill holes into the woman’s body to signify penetrability, which is the basis of Autobiography of a Wound: allowing those wounds and puncture marks to speak through the fertility figures. The wounds are chronicled through letters and poems addressed to F (F stands for the fertility carvings themselves, which are being addressed as one unified deity), and A (Aphrodite, who is being referenced as a general deity of womanhood, a figurine that reappears throughout the poems, and a symbol that is referenced or portrayed in almost every fertility figurine or carving). Autobiography of a Woundreconstructs the narrative surrounding female pathos and the idea of the hysteric girl.
There were a number of contenders that made this a truly tough decision, but in the end, I couldn’t get this one out of my mind. Brynne Rebele-Henry has such a singular, obsessive urgency to her voice.
I learned early that beauty is violence, proclaims the speaker in Autobiography of a Wound. That a wound can speak for itself, and have its own personal history, is in and of itself an arresting idea. Brynne Rebele-Henry complicates that idea in poems that live and breathe in an adamant but prayerful darkness punctuated by small poppies, rosaries, white silk pants, sewing needles. Autobiography of a Wound is unafraid to stand at the edge of any precipice, and Rebele-Henry is unafraid to confront the darkness that lives in any crevice.
Brynne Rebele-Henry’s poetry collection, Autobiography of a Wound, won the AWP Donald Hall Poetry Prize, was one of Library Journal’s Top Fall Poetry Picks for 2018, and was a finalist for the 2019 Publishing Triangle Audre Lorde Award. Her first novel, Orpheus Girl, received the 2021 Young Adult Virginia Author Award from the Richmond Public Library and was listed as one of the most anticipated YA novels by Barnes & Noble and Chicago Review of Books. She is also the author of a bilingual (English and Slovenian) chapbook, Vizije Se Začnejo Pri Šestih (Visions Begin at Six), and is a 2021–2022 Fulbright Scholar at the Institute of Anthropological and Spatial Studies, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts.