Donut Girl


For sure there is a story to tell, of late-night clichés and coffee-stained romances there behind the counter of the midnight doughnut shop. She had written them in situ, on journal pages stained with raspberry-pink jelly: the dashing pirate, the rookie cop, the old war vet with a “crack in his cookie jar.” No doubt she learned more there than in any class at the university — or any day since. But could she find them again? Stir them up, let them proof and rise into something more than naïve schoolgirl impressions of the world and her life not yet begun?

©2015/2022, Jen Payne. If you like this story, stay tuned. We’ve got some exciting news coming!

Creativity Poetry

Future Perfect

Hush Hush
the red cardinal whispers
to the wind and to time

the needs of the many outweigh
the needs of the few or the one

As he and his mate lean into each other
brace against the man-made cold
its air that breaks hope and bones

Hush Hush

In the spring, love, the babes arrive,
and we’ll sing and dance unending

But he knows the storms to come
the wicked winds, the end of time

and we’ll see in them, those babes,
a thousand more…we’ll fly
in crystal skies anew

Poem ©2022, Jen Payne. For more poems like this, read Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind.



Zoom in!

In his clever, colorful book Zoom, illustrator Istvan Banyai invites the reader to see the bigger picture. Zoom in, zoom out – what do you see? what do you think you see? what are you really looking at? What are we really looking at in these warped and ever-changing days?

Come along as we zoom in and try to figure out what it all means.

The LEIXCON ZOOM issue of MANIFEST (zine) includes a full color, 32-page booklet, fun inserts, and a curated Spotify playlist. Just $8 for one issue, or subscribe for $25 and get 4 issues. Click here to find out more or just …

The Annual Subscription rate of $25 includes four issues of MANIFEST (zine), and starts with the December issue LEIXCON ZOOM.

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.


Forest Fellow


I saw an elf bent over, studying the bark of a tree just up the path. “What are you looking at?” I asked, feeling curiouser and curiouser. “Mushrooms,” he told me, “these.” Then he bowed and plucked a bouquet from the log at my feet. Edible, he explained with a smile, so I asked “What are you making?” and he replied “Oyster mushrooms with a sherry cream sauce.” Mouths watering, we talked a bit about wild woods and food fare before we parted ways. Darn, I keep thinking, I forgot to drop my shoe. How will he ever find me?

©2014, Jen Payne.


A Good New Year

Hi. It’s Jen again. Coming to you here at the end of another year all ramped up for resolutions and intentions and manifesting…NOT.

Did I tell you the story about my 2021 Vision Board? The one on which I pinned a photo of a roller coaster? OK, Universe, I meant “Try Exhilarating Fun Things” not the roller coaster that was the past 12 months. Seriously.

And about that 2021 word? EXPANSIVE? Nope. 2021 found me contracting and happily hiding behind the anonymity of COVID. You know: face masks, social distancing, and the like.

Granted, the Vision Board wasn’t a complete bust. I excelled at resting, for example. I began and maintained a twice daily meditation practice. I spoke my peace more, let go of more, and played more. And at the end of every day I was grateful for however it had unfolded.

But despite all of that, I am resistant to go through the process of Vision Boarding again. It sounds like a form of torture, doesn’t it? Especially here at the end of or beginning of another unpredictable pandemic year. Talk about roller coasters.

What? You mean no New Year’s Resolutions? No list of intentions? No lofty goals? Yes…and no. I have some great ideas, sure, but I’m also pretty happy with things just as they are right here in this moment.

I suspect my final two Amazon purchases of 2021 speak more to my intentions for the new year than any Vision Board ever could. So I’ll leave you with those for the time being, with wishes for a GOOD, CLEAN (and Healthy) 2022.

With love,



My Year in Books

If I read as much as it feels like I didn’t, I suspect I would have surpassed my Goodreads Reading Challenge goal. I’m not really as far off as I thought…numerically, anyhow. According to my Goodreads 2021 report, I’ve read 35 books this year, 70% of my goal of 50 books.

But truth be told, my practice of reading is off by more than 70%. My attention span feels pulled thin by this pandemic; my sit-still tolerance more often taken up by Netflix binges instead of novels.

Still, when I did sink into a novel, I sunk deep. So deep I didn’t want to come up — and didn’t, for weeks. Think The Starless Sea and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, or The Watchmaker of Filigree Street and The Lost Future of Pepperharrow by Natasha Pulley. I would gladly spend weeks again within their pages.

On my nightstand now, The Book of Form and Emptiness by Ruth Ozeki, author of one of my all-time favorite books A Tale for the Time Being. A good way to step into a new year I think — good book in hand, yes?

In my mind’s eye reading looks and feels like the yummy painting, The Moonlight Bed (above), by Jacek Yerka. A comfy spot, good lighting, creature comforts, and a big stack of books. May YOUR new year be filled with the same! Happy reading!



MANIFEST (zine): Zoom Zoom Zoom!

Manifest (zine) #6 – Lexicon Zoom

What I love most about MANIFEST (zine) is how each issue takes me — and ultimately you — on a journey of connected thoughts, images, and ideas. Thank you for joining me as we explore topics like change and transition, solitude, time, storytelling, and finding refuge in these turbulent times.

The idea for my new issue — LEXICON ZOOM — came to me during a morning meditation. It has twisted and reshaped itself several times since, but I am pleased by the magical happenstances that took it in different directions. And I am delighted with the final piece…I hope you are too!

So ZOOM in and let’s see how “when we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”

LEIXCON ZOOM includes a full color, 32-page booklet, fun inserts, and a curated Spotify playlist. Just $8 for one issue, or subscribe for $25 and get 4 issues. Click here to find out more or just …

The Annual Subscription rate of $25 includes four issues of MANIFEST (zine), and starts with the December issue LEIXCON ZOOM.

Part lit mag, part artist book, part chapbook, MANIFEST (zine) is the eclectic creation of writer / poet / artist Jen Payne. Consider it a hold-in-your-hands art installation featuring writing, photography, and artwork, along with bits and pieces of whatnot that rise to the surface as she meditates on themes like change and transition, solitude, time, storytelling, and finding refuge in these turbulent times. Each issue also includes a curated Spotify playlist. Layered with colors, textures, meanings (and music), the result is a thought-full, tactile journey with nooks and crannies for you to discover along the way.

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.

Creativity Memoir Storytelling

Christmas Wonder

A 100-Word Story

Much the alarm of a grandmother, I picked up the baby and ran, leaving the Christmas celebrations in our wake.

Gathering the festive crinolines around her tiny feet for warmth, we dashed out to the front yard, and I pointed up to the sharp winter sky. “Look, Little Miss, it’s the Christmas star!” And she laughed and giggled and leaned into me — a shared  delight.

“Remember,” I said, “That’s the star the wise men followed.”

Who’s to say, of course, if it was just a plane as I was admonished. The spirit whispered love and hope and sweet small wonders.

Photo ©NASA/Bill Dunford

Creativity Storytelling

An Odd Courting


I assure you, I did nothing to encourage him. I was simply kneeling trailside, counting petals on a flower — he loves me, he loves me not, he loves me, he loves me not.

Then I heard him approach, footstepping through memories of trees scattered across the forest floor.

In his camouflage, I recognized fear and wonder, the wild and unpredictable nature of things, the magic of connection.

There was no amorous announcement to my ear, but a sound, a something sound I could not believe.

So as not to dash his hopes, I left quietly, wondering: do spiders really sing?

© Jen Payne, April 2014, From EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING: WHAT WE LEAVE BEHIND. Image: Princess Sotoori and Spider from the Series Zuihitsu (Essays) by Ogata Gekko, 1887.Click here to listen to the singing I heard: “Listen to The Creepy Sounds Spiders Make When They Want Sex.”




In Austin, she bought a rock star coat — black velvet with embroidered-flower sleeves and a faux-fur, mid-calf hem. In the dressing room, she laughed — it was a perfect fit.

“I’d never wear it,” she told the saleswoman. “Back home, we’re all L.L. Bean and Talbots.”

She bought it anyway, hung it by the door — her alter-ego, set in wait.

Then she met her new neighbors, Zach and Joe, walking their two chihuahuas.

“This is Amy and this is Pacho,” Zack said, “they have a cabaret act.”

When they invited her to their house-warming party, she knew exactly what to wear.

©2021/2008, Jen Payne. Previously published online at Six Sentences.


Missing Iguana


It was an all-points bulletin: MISSING IGUANA! Jake likes to roam, be on the lookout. Don’t chase!

I was a little busy when I first saw the news; parking my car outside the hotel was proving more difficult than it should and the sun was in my eyes. Maybe that’s why I had a hard timing believing them when I saw the iguana on the hotel lawn, sitting atop a purple octopus.

I didn’t think to ask how the octopus was managing out-of-water, I was actually deep in thought, wondering: what inspires an iguana to roam in the first place?

© Jen Payne, April 2019




She wonders if he remembers the night he found that cat. Left to fend for itself in the winter woods, it died by the trail — as if it waited for someone to return. Collar with its name, no address or phone. Alone.

He carried it to the vet, along with his warped sense of humor. “Were you attached to it?” she mocked. “Yes, and then I abandoned it,” he replied — each of them poking fun at intimate confessions they’d shared. Achilles heels, laid bare.

Ironic, how easily they laughed at the inevitable.

In his absence now, she remembers…poor discarded “Love.”

©2008/2021, Jen Payne. IMAGE: Winter Forest, Konstantin Yuon


Canal Street Epiphany


MaryAnne and I were shopping on Canal Street in New York City. My polite “No thank you” replies to the onslaught of “Tiffany! Tiffany! You buy?” catcalls clearly indicated my novicity.

Thirteen blocks of brand-name idolatry was her pilgrimage, but I didn’t see any religious icons in the dimly lit backroom we entered solemnly.

Behind faux red velvet curtains, a thousand ordinary pocketbooks lined the walls; two Asian women exchanged furtive glances and slipped our twenties into small black pouches.

Later, in the car, I looked at my purchase ambivalently. “Is that a Coach bag?” MaryAnne gasped. “OH MY GOD!”

©2011, Jen Payne.


Sometimes Hearts Need Time to Catch Up


I think, maybe, it’s our hearts I keep meeting in my dreams. Not as often now as before, but still, they’re curled under a winter’s weight of blankets, not daring to move. Reading by the fire with coffee before the sun rises. Walking through the woods on familiar paths, old stories kicked around like leaves. Sitting on lawn chairs in the back yard before the big storm changed everything. It’s always he who reaches out for her hand, calls for her attention. And she who closes her eyes and breathes it all in — just one more time before I wake.

©2021, Jen Payne.




The born-again Christian man wore head-to-toe camouflage — a fabric used to disguise one’s appearance and to blend in with the surroundings. In nature, organisms use camouflage to sneak up on prey, to mask their identity and intentions. But his were clear. A warrior of god, proclaiming he is the way and the truth and the life. Praise God, he announces for all to see — while discussing guns and ammo with a friend in the post office lobby. They laugh, she thanks him for his advice, drives off in a car with a pro-life bumper sticker. Goes to stock up. Pray.

©2021, Jen Payne.


Creativity Makes a Great Gift!

Creativity Makes a Great Gift!

Looking for something different to give to friends who appreciate interesting and creative gifts? Then consider a subscription to Manifest (zine).

Each issue is packed full of writing, photography, and artwork, along with bits and pieces of creative whatnot and a curated Spotify playlist. Layered with colors, textures, meanings (and music), the result is a thought-full, tactile journey with nooks and crannies to discover along the way.

As Broken Pencil Magazine recently wrote in its review: The result is essentially a portable contemporary art exhibit…[the] focus on physical quality (paper, image, colour assembly) alone makes it worth the price of admission.”

And now, just for the holidays, that price of admission includes a FREE gift issue!

Order a Manifest (zine) Gift Subscription, and we’ll send you the back issue of your choice along with a holiday card that acknowledges your 4-issue, 2022 subscription.


Gift Subscription Manifest (zine)
(Reg. Price $40)

*Upon receipt of payment, I’ll email to find out which back issue you’d like me to include and to whom I should send it.




I suppose I was a force to be reckoned with, even then at 19, when we stood in his driveway and I explained how my world was just bigger than his, drawing circles in the air like the orbits of planets. But he loved me then, loved how we could talk for hours when only the stars were listening, loved that I loved him back in those sweet moments we traveled around each other. In the end he was the only one with courage enough to ask me to marry … and I wonder what if maybe every blue moon.

©2021, Jen Payne. IMAGE: 1892 Solar System, Orbits of Planets.

Creativity Storytelling

Memory Vended


Downstairs, along a neon-lit hall of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, there’s an Art-o-Mat. From it, for $5, you can purchase small, original works of art. But I confess, my fascination with Art-o-Mats is more about their past lives than their brilliant creativity. You see, their artwork resides in old cigarette vending machines, and with each purchase I am transported to the Route One Dairy Queen, 1984. That very first pack of cigarettes. The sound of quarters dropping, the brazen pull of the lever, the musical-mechanical delivery of Marlboros on the offering plate below. The light. The smoke. Magic.

For more about Art-o-Mats and where to find one near you, visit

Creativity Storytelling

Silly is as Silly Does


I met a man in the woods. He was going for a walk with his frogs…two Sonoran Desert toads, actually, along the green trail on a rainy afternoon. He had them in a cat backback, facing forwards so they could see as they went past the pond and around to where the stream crosses the trail. “What if he lets them out,” I ruminated. “They would die, it’s too cold.” “But is it? Gloabal warming.” “What if he’s conditioned them? Got them used to colder weather.” “This is silly.” “More silly than a guy on a hike with pet toads?”

Storytelling Writing

Hindsight is 2020


In my version of the 2020 apocalypse, I lit incense and whispered fervent prayers to Saint Anthony and Ganesh. I started meditating. He bought a gun safe. It’s as definite in his living space now as the altar to Buddha is in mine. This should not come as a surprise. I have loved on the cusp of the yin and yang all my life, and it has been no different with him these past seven years. Of the first gift I gave him, he wondered: Speartip? Pestle? Arrowhead? “It’s a heart shape rock,” I swooned, our end-time a forgone conclusion.



What a fun surprise to see this awesome display about zines at my local library! Special thanks to the folks at the James Blackstone Memorial Library and Katy McNicol, Associate Librarian for Development & Outreach, for doing such a great job on this…and for featuring MANIFEST (zine).

My favorite part of this display is the short essay WHY ZINES MATTER, from The Bindery website. I LOVE this!


Culturally and historically, zines have served as a powerful outlet for content considered to be too niche, risqué, or outside of the mainstream, in terms of more traditional/commercial forms of publication. A zine can be produced with the simplest of tools, and easily distributed low-to-the ground, outside capitalistic or potentially oppressive systems: amongst friends; in local gathering places or homes; at fests designed to celebrate them!

Zines provide a safe, independent platform of expression for underrepresented and marginalized voices: Black, Indigenous & People of Color, young people, people with disabilities, the LGBTQ(+) community, persecuted religious groups, and people with limited economic resources.

Essentially, zines can be a little hard to define—but that’s what makes them great: they’re a glorious mash-up of art, letters, story and emotion; just like the brains, hands and hearts of those who produce them. Their small, simple format belies their unique ability to speak creatively [and loudly] for even the softest voices. (And ain’t that worth celebrating.)

Stop by the library today to see this awesome display and to learn more about zines. PLUS you can borrow copies of MANIFEST (zine) to check it out (literally!) or…


MANIFEST (zine) – A Quarantine Zine

Manifest (zine) #5 – Refuge

This special “quarantine zine” features the words and images and thoughts within which we found REFUGE last year. The literal and figurative reflections, the comforting quotes and laugh-out-loud memes that kept us breathing all those long months, and helped us regain our sea legs when it seemed like the worst was behind us. Includes a full color, 36-page booklet, fun inserts, a curated Spotify playlist, and more! Cost: $6.00.

The Annual Subscription rate of $20 includes four issues of MANIFEST (zine), and starts with the September issue REFUGE: A Quarantine Zine.

Part lit mag, part artist book, part chapbook, MANIFEST (zine) is the eclectic creation of writer / poet / artist Jen Payne. Consider it a hold-in-your-hands art installation featuring writing, photography, and artwork, along with bits and pieces of whatnot that rise to the surface as she meditates on themes like change and transition, solitude, time, storytelling, and finding refuge in these turbulent times. Each issue also includes a curated Spotify playlist. Layered with colors, textures, meanings (and music), the result is a thought-full, tactile journey with nooks and crannies for you to discover along the way.

You can pay through PayPal using a PayPal account or any standard credit card. If you prefer the old school approach, please send your check, made payable to Jen Payne, P.O. Box 453, Branford, CT 06405.



There is a time to act, and a time to wait, to listen, to observe. Then understanding and clarity can grow. From understanding, action arises that is purposeful, firm, and powerful. — Charles Eisenstein

Photo ©2021, Jen Payne


Soggy Poems & Dead Ends

I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate,
a poet, a pawn, and a king.” — Frank Sinatra

Like Frank, I have been many things. I’ve called myself a writer, journalist, author, poet, blogger. I am all of those things and, lately, seemingly none of them.
I’m not writing. I haven’t had any great ideas. When some bit of inspiration does trickle in, it lands with a thud at my feet and doesn’t even bounce.
Last week in the woods, a poem showed up. It was so insistent, I sat down on the trail and wrote words in my notebook, but by the time I got home, they were stale and soggy.
Is this writer’s block? A pandemic pause? A crisis of faith?
In my darkest moments, I worry I’m a hack, that readers have been humoring me all this time. That my lack of pedigree makes me and my work irrelevant. That I have overstayed my welcome and should just shut up and find something else to do — like paint my nails or make bundt cakes for the neighbors.
Oh, I know most of that isn’t true. In the light of day, anyhow. But at night, when I toss and turn and wonder about what comes next? I get nothing but pieces of soggy poems and dead ends.
That’s life?
I’ve been up and down and over and out and I know one thing
Each time I find myself layin’ flat on my face
I just pick myself up and get back in the race

This too shall pass.
(I hope.)

So tell me, have you been here before? Experienced writer’s block or a creative pause? What did you do?

CLICK HERE to read the complete Random Acts of Writing Fall 2021 Newsletter

Creativity Memoir Travel

We’ll have memories for company, long after the songs are gone

Grammy-winning folk artist Nanci Griffith dies at 68 — The Guardian

I first heard Nanci Griffith while driving on the Boston Expressway one night. It was three in the morning, actually, the Expressway before the Big Dig, 30 degrees with the window down, and a beautiful, unnamed voice on the radio. She seemed a kindred spirit, someone who somehow understood the loneliness of that newly heartbroken and somewhat lost twenty-something.

I’ve been workin’ in corners all alone at night
Pullin’ down whiskey
Keepin’ my eyes away from the lights
I’ll never be a fool but I will gamble foolishly
I’ve never let go of love
Till I lost it in my dreams

The moment was out of place and time, and remains in my memory to this day more than 30 years later.

I held onto those lyrics in my mind for years before I found out who sang them. Hoping to hear them again, recognize her distinct voice that still haunted me.

When I met my friend DeLinda in 1991, she knew the song. Knew the musician, too —  the two of them born and raised in the state I would come to know and love over the years.

Nanci Griffith, born July 6 (my birthday) a world away in Texas, was a singer, guitarist, and songwriter, who grew up in Austin. She was an up-and-coming folk/country folk singer when I first heard her that night in Boston. A popular guest on the PBS show Austin City Limits in the late 80s, she won a Grammy in 1994 for her album Other Voices, Other Rooms, and went on to produce more than 20 albums, including the first one I ever bought: One Fair Summer Evening.

I remember the day I found it — that first album — at a shopping mall record store mall, in the G bin. A cassette tape that played in my car for years and years, every song and note connecting to my heart in old soul ways I can’t explain.

One Fair Summer Evening sang me through that early unrequited love. Lone Star State of Mind connected me to my soul mate and my heart space. Flyer helped me grieve my father.

I saw Nanci in concert once, at Edgerton Park in New Haven. It was October 2001, a month after 9/11. To this day, I am not sure if I was more shocked by the sight of planes in the sky again or by the pure and crystal sound of her voice in the starry night air.

The New York Times wrote that Nanci Griffith “may just be one of America’s best poets.” She was, I think, many of my great loves in one voice…

I found your letter in my mailbox today
You were just checkin’ if I was okay
And if I miss you, well, you know what they say…

Just once… in a very blue moon

– – – – –

And when we die we say, we’ll
Catch some blackbirds wing
Then we will fly away to Heaven come
Some sweet blue bonnet spring

– – – – –

These days my life is an open book
Missing pages I cannot seem to find
These days your face
In my memory
Is in a folded hand of grace against these times

– – – – –

There’s a pale sky in the east, all the stars are in the west
Oh, here’s to all the dreamers, may our open hearts find rest
The wing and the wheel are gonna carry us along
And we’ll have memories for company, long after the songs are gone.

Workin’ in Corners, Poet in My Window; Once in a Very Blue Moon, One Fair Summer Evening; Gulf Coast Highway, Little Love Affairs; These Days in an Open Book, Flyer; The Wing & The Wheel, The Last of the True Believers. Photo from the album cover of Intersection, Griffith’s last album.

Creativity Writing Zine

The Latest News Zine

Back in the early 90s, I created a newsletter called The Latest News as a way to keep in touch with college friends and family. It had essays, quotes, photos, bits and pieces of personal news.

I didn’t know it was a “zine” until I read about the zine phenomenon and learned about Mike Gunderloy who reviewed and cataloged thousands of zines in his publication Factsheet Five. I sent him a copy of The Latest News and he reviewed it, and the next thing I knew — BAM! More than 350 people had subscribed and were reading my little 4-page, photocopied newsletter zine!

And then more BAM! The New York Times interviewed me about zines. And Tom Trusky, a professor at Boise State University invited me to be part of a zine exhibit called Some Zines: American Alternative & Underground Magazines, Newsletters & APAs. And later, The Latest News was featured in several retrospective books about the zine phenomenon: Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture and The World of Zines: A Guide to the Independent Magazine Revolution.

Flash forward…I hate to say this, OMG…30 years, and BAM! MANIFEST (zine) showed up on my creative radar.

It’s been 12 months since I launched this new project, and I can’t tell you how amazed I am at the response. Folks from all over the planet have read about Divine Intervention and Cat Lady Confessions, they’ve discovered It’s About Time and what one does about Crickets. And they’ve been enthusiastic and supportive about what comes next.

I don’t know what comes next…or should I say which idea comes next, because I have a bunch! I hope you’ll stick around for the adventure.


  1. Factsheet Five
  2. New York State Library, The Factsheet Five Collection
  3. Some Zines: American Alternative & Underground Magazines, Newsletters & APAs, Tom Trusky
  4. Hop on Pop: The Politics and Pleasures of Popular Culture, Henry Jenkins III, Jane Shattuc, Tara McPherson, Duke University Press Books, 2003.
  5. Notes from Underground: Zines and the Politics of Alternative Culture, Stephen Duncombe, Verso, 1997.
  6. The World of Zines: A Guide to the Independent Magazine Revolution, Mike Gunderloy and Cari Goldberg Janice, Penguin Books, 1992.
  7. Want to know more? Check out a Zinefest near you!


What is the force that moves us? Perhaps it’s music?

Did you know that each issue of MANIFEST (zine) includes a Spotify playlist especially curated for readers? For the DIVINE INTERVENTION issue, I explore the concept of change and transition featuring music by Alanis Morissette, The Chicks, Tracy Chapman, Blind Melon, David Bowie, and many more. Take a listen to this powerful playlist now!


MANIFEST (zine): Divine Intervention

What is the force that moves us? Changes us? Propels us with such acceleration that we hardly recognize ourselves. Is it grief, heartbreak, indignation? Or joy, courage, determination? Perhaps it is DIVINE INTERVENTION — masked for our benefit as demon or angel or a hurried white rabbit who intrigues us just enough to move. To trip, fall, test the waters, grow up, expand, explore. And praise be to that because often, so very often, those big and unexpected transitions become our greatest and most profound adventures.

• Transubstantiation
• What Sound Change
• Identity Theft
• Memoir
• Alternate Ending
• Dance! I Say, Dance!
• Kintsugi

OTHER INGREDIENTS: acetone transfers, acrylic paints, Avery labels, collaged elements, color copies, colored pencils, gold star stickers, Golden gel medium, hand-cut templates, hand-drawn fonts, hand-dyed paper, handmade papers, handmade rubber stamps, ink jet copies, laser prints, metal arrow, mirror labels, original photography, paper napkin, pigment inks, poetry, watercolor paints, with cameo appearances by Sir Isaac Newton Laws of Motion, Dirty Dancing, Star Trek, Solbeam, Eadweard Muybridge, Lewis Carroll, Sir John Tenniel, Alice, The Principals of Cartography, and the Serenity Prayer.


Every body wants to be a cat…sing along!

Did you know that each issue of MANIFEST (zine) includes a Spotify playlist especially curated for readers? For the CAT LADY CONFESSIONS issue, I explore all things cat, with songs by artists like Dee-Lite, Peggy Polk, Psapp, Alexis Saski, Lee Ann Womak, and Janet Jackson. It’s purr-fect! Take a listen now!


MANIFEST (zine): Cat Lady Confessions

Poor Cat Lady. She always gets a bum rap. No one ever makes fun of Ernest Hemingway, whose Key West home was filled with cats — and he of a certain age. His strapping action figure includes a typewriter and a shotgun. Cat Lady? She gets six cats, bed head, and a ratty bathrobe. Doesn’t she earn points for opening her heart wide open? for loving even the most unlovable? for her strong, independent nature; Her patience and acceptance? for her superpower ability to nurture trust, stillness, solitude, balance? This issue of MANIFEST (zine) explores the oft-maligned life of the cat lady: crazy or contemplative? recluse or dancing to the beat of her own drum? You decide.

• The Obscurity of This Week’s Words
• Bury Me in Yellow
• Serenity
• Chasing
• Note to Self: Smell Roses
• The Anatomy of 3 a.m.
• Sunday Haiku
• Cat Meditation

OTHER INGREDIENTS: acrylic paints, appropriation art, collaged elements, color copies, color scans, colored markers, colored pencils, cracker box, crazy cat lady action figure, Golden gel medium, hand-drawn fonts, hand-dyed paper, handmade cat mask, handmade linoleum block print, handmade papers, ink jet copies, laser prints, latex animal cat head mask, original photography, pigment inks, poetry, ribbon, rubber stamps, soap wrapper, sparkle paint, vintage photographs, watercolor paints, with cameo appearances by Cassastamps, Vikki Dougan , Matt Fry, Carl Larsson, Nina Leen, Pietro Longhi, Amedeo Modigliani, Mary O’Connor, Pixelins by Dana, Eckhart Tolle, Hattie Watson , Helen M. Winslow, and special thanks to Fuzzy, Calico, Crystal, Emily, CJ, Mousse, Little Black Kitty, and Lola.

24-Page, Full-Color, 5.5 X 8.5 Booklet, $6.00


MANIFEST (zine)…It’s About Time

Issue #3, It’s About Time!
Poems & More by Jen Payne

We humans sure are creative with time, aren’t we? This arbitrary turning clocks backward or forward twice a year, assigning time to zones and lines and frames. I myself try to trick time, setting clocks randomly wrong and always fast as if I can somehow control the hours, beat the Kobayashi Maru of time. Even Albert Einstein said time is an illusion — “a stubbornly persistent illusion” — that time and space are merely “modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live.” Of course, if you think too hard on things like that you end up down rabbit holes and worm holes…want to come along?

Then check out the next issue of MANIFEST (zine). It’s About Time this time — time travel, time loops, time passing — a 28-page, full-color book filled with artwork, photos, poetry, and a curated Spotify playlist just for you. Cost: $6.00.

• Time Peace
• Moonwalk Writer
• Time Flies
• Time Traveler
• There is No Synonym for Reunion
• This Affliction of Longing
• Shape-Shifter, Time-Shifter Crow
• Black Bird Haiku
• Missing Banksy

OTHER INGREDIENTS: acrylic paints, appropriation art, collaged elements, color copies, color scans, colored markers, Dymo labels, ephemera, essays, Golden gel medium, hand-drawn fonts, ink jet copies, laser prints, mixed-media collage, one sci-fi geek, original photographs, pigment inks, poetry, postage stamps, postcard art, rubber stamp art, time travelers, vintage magazine pages, vintage photos, vintage postcard, and watercolor paint, with thanks to the Leo Baeck Institute, Joy Bush, Paul Delvaux, Albert Einstein, Esther Elzinga of StudioTokek, Rowland Emmet, the Everett Collection, Michael Jackson, Julien Pacaud, Robert Louis Stevenson and Charles Robinson, Sir John Tenniel, and Rudolph Zallinger.

Issue #3, It’s About Time!
28-page, full-color 7.5 x 5.5

Cost: $6.00


BUY NOW or SUBSCRIBE and get 4 issues for just $20!


The Sound of Crickets

Did you know that each issue of MANIFEST (zine) includes a Spotify playlist especially curated for readers? For the CRICKETS issue, I had fun playing off the themes of silence, finding one’s voice, and creating from the heart. It features an eclectic set of songs by artists like Disturbed, Grace Carter, Barry Manilow, John Mayer, Natasha Bedingfield, and Brandi Carlile. Take a listen now!

IMAGE: Midsummer Frolic, British Library Digital Library, When Life is Young, Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge, 1894.


WHAT’S THAT? Manifest (zine): Crickets

Issue #4, Crickets
by Jen Payne

Storytelling is in our DNA says Brené Brown in her book Rising Strong. We share our stories because “we feel most alive when we’re connecting with others and being brave with our stories.” That process, she explains, causes our brains to release cortisol and oxytocin, the chemicals that “trigger the uniquely human ability to connect, empathize, and make meaning.” So we write. And we create. No matter who listens or responds. Crickets be damned.

MANIFEST (zine): Crickets is a riff and a rant about the consequences of creative bravery. It’s a 24-page, full color booklet that includes a curated Spotify playlist for your listening pleasure.

INGREDIENTS: appropriation art, black-out poetry, collaged elements, color copies, colored markers, ephemera, hand-drawn fonts, ink jet copies, laser prints, vintage illustrations, watercolor paints, and “11 Cute Facts About Crickets.”

With THANKS to to the British Library Digital Library, Brené Brown, Leonard Cohen, Carlo Collodi, Francis Crick, Charles Dickens, Mary Elizabeth Mapes Dodge, Natalie Goldberg, Charles d. Orbigny, Pinocchio, George Selden, the Trustees of the British Museum, James Watson, and Margaret J. Wheatley.

Issue #4, Crickets
24-page, full-color 4.25 x 5.5,
Cost: $6.00


BUY NOW or SUBSCRIBE and get 4 issues for just $20!

Creativity Writing Zine

If you are a dreamer, come in…

If you are a dreamer, come in,
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by my fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
Come in!
come in!

— Shel Silverstein

Indeed, if you are a dreamer, a wisher, a magic bean buyer…then you must visit THE SHOP at Guilford Art Center. It’s truly one of the most unique shopping destinations, offering a selection of contemporary American crafts and jewelry handmade by local artists and others from across the country. You’ll find works in glass, metal, ceramics, wood, fiber, paper, toys and much more.

Much more…like copies of MANIFEST (zine)!

I’m excited to say that MANIFEST (zine) can now be purchased at THE SHOP at Guilford Art Center, along with copies of my books and postcards. Check it out!

Guilford Art Center

411 Church Street
Guilford, CT 06437

Wednesday 12 – 4pm
Thursday 12 – 4pm
Friday 12 – 4pm
Saturday 10am – 4pm

PLUS, if you stop by this coming weekend — July 10 — you’ll get to peruse one of the Art Center’s Summer Artisan Pop-Up Events!


Hold-in-Your-Hand Art Installation

When I published my first book, LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, I imagined a complementary art installation: framed photos from the book, poems printed large and hung like tapestries, a CD of woodland sounds in the background.

I had other ideas, too. (I still do.)

A show at New Haven’s Kehler Liddell Gallery (2017) came close. “Random Acts of Writing: Common Ground” — featuring three of my poems and one photograph — was included in INAUGURATION NATION, an open forum exhibit that responded to the political and social climate of the time.

That same year, large framed photos from my second book, Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, were featured in the exhibit WHERE THE WHOLE UNIVERSE DWELLS at Perspectives, The Gallery at Whitney Center.

You might recognize the theme of my very first art installation effort. Random Acts of Writing: Pushing Time was included in the SHUFFLE & SHAKE exhibit at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven’s Sumner McKnight Crosby Jr. Gallery in 2016. Its three poems and wall clock all appear in MANIFEST (zine): It’s About Time.

You see, it turns out, a lot of my “other ideas” fit neatly into the format that is a zine. Zines, as explained on the Wikipedia page dedicated to this phenomenon, “cover broad topics including fanfiction, politics, poetry, art & design, ephemera, personal journals, social theory, intersectional feminism, single-topic obsession” and more. They have such cultural relevance, there are dedicated zine archives/libraries at Barnard College, the University of Iowa, Duke University, the Tate Museum, the British Library, Harvard University, and at the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University.

So many publications, so many topics, so many ideas! Check it out yourself and stay tuned!

Creativity Writing Zine

What is MANIFEST (zine)?

Photo from the Sojourner Truth Library’s Zine Library at the State University of New York, New Paltz

According to Wikipedia, a zine — pronounced zeen — is a small circulation, self-published work of original or appropriated texts and images, usually reproduced via photocopier. It has no defined shape or size, and may contain anything from poetry, prose, and essays, to comics, art, or photography.

A zine is a multi-purposed publication form that has deep roots in political, punk, feminist, artistic, and other subculture communities. Original zinesters are rumored to include Thomas Paine, Ben Franklin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Margaret Fuller.

• Check out this great page about zines: What is a Zine?
• Read: “A Brief History of Zines” at Mental Floss
• Visit the Barnard College Zine Library
• From Buzzfeed News: “How Zine Libraries Are Highlighting Marginalized Voices”

Let’s consider…

MANIFEST (noun) : a list of contents

MANIFEST (verb) : to make a record of; to set down in permanent form

MANIFEST (adjective) : easily understood or recognized by the mind

Then see also MANIFESTO (noun) : a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer;

and see also, especially, MANIFESTING (noun) : the creative process of aligning with the energy of the Universe to co-create an experience that elevates your spirit and the spirit of the world;

at which point, you might begin to understand… Manifest (zine)!