Review of Leaf Seligman’s A POCKET BOOK OF PROMPTS

Leaf Seligman. Bauhan Publishing, $9.95 paperback (96p) ISBN: 9780872332003

Memoirists, personal essayists, confessional poets, and diarists will get much use from Leaf Seligman’s A Pocket Book of Prompts, which challenges writers to engage with their lives. For writers who need help to get moving, Seligman’s book offers a gentle shove.

The prompts are open-ended and varied. For the taciturn, most prompts include follow-up questions to encourage more depth. Divided into two sections, “First Day Prompts” contains quick starter questions such as “If you could interview one person from history, who would it be?” In the right hands, this prompt might spark historical fiction or fever-dream poems. The other section, “Prompts for Deeper Reflection,” includes more elaborate assignments, such as completing a series of 5-sentence autobiographies.

This book isn’t for everyone. Some readers will be turned off by the New Age tone. And writers for whom personal reflection is creative kryptonite might not gravitate toward this book. But there are some prompts even for them. Several, for example, encourage writers to imagine fictional scenarios or interactions with intangible concepts (“Write an ode or a make-up letter to uncertainty”). And fiction writers of all persuasions will find this book helpful as a tool for character development.

As with writing prompts themselves, this book is what you make of it. Anyone looking to discover more about their “authentic self” will find a trove of possibilities here. And those wanting to start a daily habit of personal writing will find these prompts up to the challenge. (July 2015)

Purchase A Pocket Book of Prompts HERE.

Reviewer bio: Jeannie Hoag’s chapbook of poems, New Age of Ferociousness, was published by Agnes Fox Press, and her work has recently appeared in Divine Magnet.