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Jennifer Browdy
Author, Service Provider
Purposeful Memoir as a Quest for a Thriving Future
Award-winning memoirist and veteran college professor Jennifer Browdy weaves together her own story with the inspiring voices and visions of more than 15 of the writer-activists she calls “worldwrights”—writers who write to right the world, including beloved mentors such as Joy Harjo, Audre Lorde, Jane Goodall. Terry Tempest Williams and many more. The book is organized as a series of eight Quests, centered around positive qualities that will help us create a thriving future: Clarity, Courage, Vitality, Guidance, Love, Community, Joy and Freedom. Each Quest, beautifully illustrated with Dr. Browdy’s photographic images of the natural world, is accompanied by stimulating writing prompts that open new portals through which to explore the past, with the goal of understanding the present more fully, and stepping with greater intention into the thriving future we all desire.
No matter how dispiriting life might seem, Browdy affirms that "we have the power to change the world with our vision, our understanding, and the choices we make day by day”—and she offers this impassioned volume, and the eight “quests” at its heart, to help inspire writers, seekers, and “worldwrights” toward embracing the “alchemical potential” of their creative imaginations and ushering us all toward a brighter future. At the heart of Browdy’s vision is the practice of “purposeful memoir,” which centers an effort to understand how humanity got to this place and to “align the personal, political, and planetary threads of our existence” with the goal of transforming lives—and our world.

Browdy lays out how purposeful memoir, through the technique of “alchemical writing” combining the literal and metaphorical, can activate the “poetic visionary” in anyone, changing how we view and feel about our own history and empowering us in the present. Her “archeological exploration” technique, meanwhile, digs into deeper layers of memory, lineage, and history (including “historical cruelties like the Inquisition, colonization, slavery, misogyny, racism”) to move past whatever attitudes and worldviews of our ancestors no longer suit the present, while preserving what’s still essential. This heady concept is supplemented by clear techniques, examples, and prompts for writers, while Browdy, writing with a warm and inviting tone, makes clear that this practice is open-ended and exploratory.

The bulk of this slim but packed guide is dedicated to what Browdy calls “quests,” eight inspired and inspiring essays and prompts each dedicated to developing a positive quality (clarity, guidance, love, community). Each of these pairs Browdy’s original musings—often thoughts on the achievements of activists, “worldwrights,” and poets like Julia Butterfly Hill, Audre Lorde, and others—with practical, well-crafted “catalysts for writing.” Readers and writers seeking inspiration to better themselves and our world will find much here that resonates.

Takeaway: Big-picture inspiration and practical prompts for seekers eager to better themselves and the world.

Great for fans of: adrienne maree brown’s Pleasure Activism, Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend from Far Away.

Production grades
Cover: B+
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A

Purposeful Memoir as a Quest for a Thriving Future Wins Two Gold Awards!

Purposeful Memoir as A Quest for a Thriving Future has won two 2022 Gold Awards, from the Independent Press Association, and from the Nautilus Books Awards, for books that make the world better.