Categories
Creativity

Star-crossed

A 100-WORD STORY

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.

Categories
Creativity Storytelling

Memory Vended

A 100-WORD STORY

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 www.artomat.org.

Categories
Creativity Storytelling

Silly is as Silly Does

A 100-WORD STORY

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?”

Categories
Creativity

SEEN: THE ZINE SCENE

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!

WHY ZINES MATTER

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…

Categories
Creativity

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.

Categories
Creativity

Patience

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

Categories
Creativity

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
.

DON’T PANIC!
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


Categories
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.


Categories
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.

CURIOUS? SEE ALSO:

  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!


Categories
Creativity

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!


Categories
Creativity

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!


Categories
Creativity

MANIFEST (zine): Cat Lady Confessions

Issue #2, 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.

POEMS
• 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



Categories
Creativity

Do you remember the time…you fell in love with a Spotify playlist?

Did you know that each issue of MANIFEST (zine) includes a Spotify playlist especially curated for readers? For the IT’S ABOUT TIME issue, I had fun playing off the themes of time, time travel, and sci-f. It features an eclectic set of songs by artists like Styx, Michael Jackson,Imagine Dragons, Lana Del Rey, Green Day, and Leonard Nimoy. Take a listen now!


Categories
Creativity

MANIFEST (zine)…It’s About Time

MANIFEST ZINE
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.

POEMS
• 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!



Categories
Creativity

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.

Categories
Creativity

WHAT’S THAT? Manifest (zine): Crickets

MANIFEST ZINE
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!



Categories
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!

THE SHOP at
Guilford Art Center

411 Church Street
Guilford, CT 06437
www.guilfordartcenter.org

HOURS
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!



Categories
Creativity

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!


Categories
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

LET’S START WITH: WHAT IS A ZINE?
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”


SO THEN, WHAT IS MANIFEST (zine) ?
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)!


Categories
Creativity

Happy Birthday, MANIFEST (zine)!

It was rather serendipitous last year that the first issue of MANIFEST (zine) came out just in time for International Zine Month! An auspicious debut and an amazing first year! So, today we celebrate! Happy Birthday MANIFEST (zine)…and many more!


Categories
Creativity Writing Zine

Happy International Zine Month 2021!

Download the poster.

Thanks to Alex Wrek at Stolen Sharpie Revolution, we’re celebrating INTERNATIONAL ZINE MONTH! Stay tuned for lots of good zine things and consider these ways to celebrate throughout the month of July!


Categories
Creativity

Sunday Morning

This morning, I stopped along a narrow trail, enveloped by the sweet scents of honeysuckle and spicebush. Memories of last night’s rain skipped from leaf to leaf, while damselflies danced  and a lone catbird sang. From branches sixty feet above, pollen drifted down like snow, illuminated in the first light of day. Oh the bees, their sunrise fête in blooming vines, and mine — oh mine — below.

Categories
Creativity

The Messy Business of Creating

In her heartbreakingly wonderful book This I Know: Notes on Unraveling the Heart, photographer Susannah Conway explains that writing is “a vocation that pays out twice: first to you as the detective unraveling your heart and then again to the reader who consumes your work.”

This echoes a conversation I had recently with my dear friend Judith who reminded me that the life-changing moment for a writer is not necessarily being published, or even being read. The life-changing moment is the creative spark, that white hot moment of inspiration.

The rest, as they say, is gravy. More or less… (Read More)

Categories
Creativity mindfulness Nature Writing

Finding Leonard Cohen down a Rabbit Hole

One of my favorite things about the work I get do to for my books and zines is the sleuthing. Hunting down random (often misappropriated) quotes, getting permissions to reprint, finding hard copy proof. Evidence for my readers — and myself — that I have done due diligence to make what you hold in your hands valid and true to the best of my abilities.

As a student of English literature and journalism, and as a life-long writer and citer, I feel an incredible responsibility to validate as many of my references as possible. To remind my readers, for example, that it was Henry Stanley Haskins who wrote “What lies behind us and what lies before us are but tiny matters compared to what lies within us,” not Ralph Waldo Emerson or Gandhi, and not Buddha.

When I was writing LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, in which I used that quote, I actually spent six months researching and properly attributing quotes. That task included rabbit holes like the quote sourced to a 1970s motivational poster printed by an academic publisher in Texas written by a retired social worker in Oak Park, Illinois.

I get a little geeky when it comes to that kind of thing. Like a dog with a bone. Truth be told, I love it as much Alice loved going on her adventures!

My most recent adventure involved Leonard Cohen and a 60-year-old book.

While I was working on the spring issue of MANIFEST (zine): CRICKETS, I found a beautiful poem by Cohen called “Summer Haiku.” The poem appeared in his book The Spice-Box of Earth of which there was a rare, limited edition hardcover edition that included illustrations by Frank Newfeld, a renowned Canadian illustrator and book designer.

There were several copies of the book available online starting at around $200, which is a tad higher than my budget for the zine project. Less expensive copies did not include the Newfeld illustrations, and by this point in the adventure those were key.

I did find and purchase issue number 56 of The Devil’s Artisan: A Journal of the Printing Arts that featured Newfeld’s work on delicious, offset-printed, antique laid pages. It even included a letterpressed color keepsake of Newfeld’s illustration for Cohen’s poem “The Gift,” which appears in The Spice-Box of Earth.

I went on to find a bookseller in Canada, Steven Temple, who owns a copy of the 1961 edition. Searching through the 10,000 books he attends to in his home-based bookshop, he found and took the photo of “Summer Haiku” that appears in CRICKETS.

Of course, I was still curious. What did the rest of the book look like? How many poems were there? How many illustrations? How could I see it? Read it?

My local library did not have a copy of the book, nor did Google Books. According to a 2016 article in Toronto Life, the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library is “home to 140 banker’s boxes worth of Cohen’s archives” including “handwritten notes and letters, portraits, CDs, paintings, novel manuscripts, books, early drafts of his poetry and lyrics, and even art he made when he lived as a Buddhist monk.” Would it include a digital copy of The Spice-Box of Earth?

It did not.

Nor did the online Library and Archives of Canada or the Canadian Electronic Library. But on the Hathi Trust Digital Library website there was a helpful “Find in a Library” link that, when clicked, revealed some familiar and within-driving-distance names: Yale University, Wesleyan University, Connecticut College.

Lightbulb! I immediately emailed a woman I know at our local library, Deb Trofatter, who is the Associate Librarian for Reference Services and Technology, and asked…by any chance…can you get a copy of…

Which is how, on May 15, I came to have in my hands a 60-year-old hardcover copy of Leonard Cohen’s The Spice-Box of Earth to savor and share.

NOTES & LINKS

The Spice-Box of Earth, illustrated by Frank Newfeld. (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1961).

• Click here to purchase my book LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness

• Meditations in Wall Street by Henry Stanley Haskins (New York: William Morrow & Co., 1940).

• The Quote Verifier: Who Said What, Where, and When, by Ralph Keyes (New York: St. Martin’s Griffin, 2006).

• Learn more about The Devil’s Artisan : A Journal of the Printing Arts

• Discover Steven Temple Books

• Read “A look inside U of T’s massive archive of Leonard Cohen poems, letters and pictures,” in Toronto Life

• Check out the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library

Alice photo from a Fortnum & Mason (London) holiday window display, possibly 2006. Photographer not found yet.

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. Click here to order your copy today!

Categories
Creativity mindfulness Nature Writing

The Healing Process

The storm took so much it’s difficult to consider — gone the familiar, the known path. Feet so sure there was no need to gauge progress. It was how I became present again, how I stepped back in the moment.

It was where I could breathe, let go, release my rooted stride. Slough off thoughts. Embrace the solitude with just a heartbeat and birdsong for company.

But her wide canopy of solace is gone now, and I have been hobbled.

Those sacred spaces of breath and respite are changed.

And so am I.

So I take a different path this morning and it comforts me.

It whispers…

This rabbit will caretake the old path.

This turtle, hopeful, lays its eggs. As does the robin.

Part of this snake is here but its heart has moved forward,

and this spider writes her poems in the spaces left behind.

Essay ©2021, Jen Payne. If you like this essay, be sure to purchase a copy of my book LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, available here.
Categories
Creativity

NEW! Manifest (zine): Crickets

MANIFEST ZINE
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!


Categories
Creativity Writing Zine

Spinning Jenny

Volume S of our 1976 Encyclopedia Britannica collection did not have much to say about the Spinning Jenny. What it was: an early machine for spinning wool or cotton. Who created it: James Hargreaves from Lancashire, England. When: 1764. And a short sentence about its significance in the industrial revolution.

I can still see the two-sentence paragraph description and its line drawing of the Spinning Jenny sitting on the page. What I could not see at the time was the 500-word essay being requested by my 6th grade social studies teacher Mr. Jacobson.

So I did what any good writer would do. I improvised!

What is a spinning wheel used for? How does it work? Where does the wool and cotton come from? What was life like in Lancashire? What was life like in 1764? Who was James Hargreaves? What was the industrial revolution?

Et voila! Essay.

Pulling from different sources, I spun together that essay and earned an impressive A- for my effort.

Ironically, one of the reasons the Spinning Jenny was so important is that it allowed a worker to use multiple spindles of material in the forming of thread.

Fast forward 40-something years, and I am still spinning. Still pulling from multiple sources to form threads of thought that get woven into my writing and creative work.

I love the experience of that process. Going down the rabbit hole of “what do we have here?” and finding winding paths to all sorts of unexpected discoveries.

I love the organic nature of those discoveries — what reveals itself as I walk along those paths. A bit like Alice, I suppose, wandering and Wondering in that strange, unexplored land.

I love the challenge of digging deeper to find some key piece of information that completes the story. I love doing research and following breadcrumbs.

The best part, of course, is when it can all finally come together. Tie off all of the threads, weave the ends together. See the conclusion of the hard work: the poem, the book, the zine, this essay.

I suppose, if you think about it, that make me a Spinning Jenny, wouldn’t you say?

©2021, Jen Payne, but only 360 words. For more good words, check out my Etsy Shop now!

Categories
Creativity Quotes Zine

Pieces of Thought

“For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” Isaac Newton said.

“You leave old habits behind by starting out with the thought, ‘I release the need for this in my life’,” author Wayne Dyer said, some 300 years later.

I don’t think either of them were talking about keys…but I am.

I was walking through the woods the other day, thinking about the things we carry with us. The physical things—like keys — and the less tangible, like memories. The things we carry with us can be heavy — grudges or a responsibility. Or they can be light — kind words or the lyrics of a favorite song…

The wind is the whisper of our mother the earth
The wind is the hand of our father the sky
The wind watches over our struggles and pleasures
The wind is the goddess who first learned to fly.

Often, the things we carry with us are no longer necessary.

For example, the key chain I carry holds 11 keys, three key fobs, and bar-coded tags for access to my library, AAA, and mile-long receipts from CVS.

Of those keys, I use three: house, car, post office box. One opens the door to a friend’s house, but I can’t remember the last time I used any of the other ones. That’s seven keys — or about four ounces — I carry around with no purpose.

Imagine if the non-tangible things carried weight as well? An ounce for that grudge, another for that resentment. Two ounces for that grief, and two more for that heartache. Perhaps they do.

But can I “release the need for this in my life,” I wonder as I walk? Can I let go of those old things that no longer serve a purpose? Can I leave stale habits and welcome new ones?

If I want to change things, according to Newton, I must do something: every object tends to remain in its state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

If I “release the need,” and there is an equal and opposite reaction…will I manifest positive change? What new doors will open?

And won’t I need a new key?

Windsong, John Denver

If you like this poem, you’ll LOVE the Divine Intervention issue of MANFEST (zine)

Categories
Creativity

MANIFEST (zine): What’s Old, What’s New, What’s Coming

Emily Fletcher, author of the awesome book Stress Less, Accomplish More: Meditation for Extraordinary Performance, writes “When we create something — whether it’s dinner for a friend, a presentation at work, a self-published memoir, or a new company — we’re stepping into the unknown and making ourselves vulnerable by putting into concrete terms something we had nurtured in our mind.”

MANIFEST (zine) is just that.

Emerging from creative inspirations and the solitude of the pandemic, this colorful, eclectic publication features my own writing and artwork, along with thoughts and images from a host of guest artists and authors, all dancing loosely around themes like change, time, and silence. The result — what has been manifest especially for you — is a thought-full, tactile journey of consideration and contemplation.

Curious? You can buy individual issues below for just $6.00 or SUBSCRIBE now and get 4 issues for $20.00.

The newest issue — Crickets — should be ready in June. I can’t wait for you to see it! Until then, sending wishes for good inspiration and steady health!

Love,

Jen Payne
Writer / Poet / Artist
Three Chairs Publishing


Issue #4, CRICKETS
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.” Issue #4 of MANIFEST (zine) presents a riff and a rant about the consequences of creative bravery.

PREORDER – Ships June 1
24-Page, Color, 4.25 x 5.5 Booklet, curated Spotify playlist, $6.00
BUY NOW!

Issue #3, IT’S ABOUT TIME
We humans sure are creative with time, aren’t we? This arbitrary turning clocks backward and 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 unwinnable 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?

READ MORE about this issue

28-Page, Full-Color, 7.5 x 5.5 Booklet, curated Spotify playlist, $6.00
BUY NOW!

Issue #2, 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.

READ MORE about this issue

24-Page, Full-Color, 5.5 X 8.5 Booklet, curated Spotify playlist $6.00
BUY NOW!

Issue #1, 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.

READ MORE about this issue

Full-Color, folded 11×17 zine, curated Spotify playlist, $6.00
BUY NOW!


 

Categories
Creativity

9 – Seven Degrees of an Active Shooter

One – one active shooter present here in Branford

Two – 2.1 miles from my house, all roads closed

Three – all roads including the ones leading to the library and post office

Four – an active shooter is present inside the salon I went to for 23 years

Five – a video of the scene shows the shop where I bought a mop on Monday

Six – it’s taken from the window of the garden center where I buy plants and flowers and summer herbs in pots

Seven – a good friend is taking photos at the scene, hears gunshots while I call to tell her there is an active shooter here in Branford

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. Photo by Tara Buckley as seen on Branford Patch.
Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

8 – Night Music

Night Music

The D key
on my neighbor’s piano
sounds like an owl

hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo
hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo

maybe a mourning dove

coo-OO-oo

coo-OO-oo

the bell buoy
off Mermaid Rocks?

doong doong doong
doong doong doong
 
Wrong direction, though
an alarm? my phone?

too low for tinitus
its angel songs

too late for a piano
I thought, but

hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo
hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo
 
coo-OO-oo
coo-OO-oo
 
doong doong doong
doong doong doong

That D key had center stage
drowned out the others
in pitch-perfect tones
enough to wake birds
and me, my angels in check

while the Sound rocked on…

Photo and poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

7 – Mindfulness

Mindfulness

Morning

sun

on

tulips

takes

my

breath

away.

Photo and poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

6 – Apple of Discord

Apple of Discord

I had, for years,
chosen words carefully,
like one might apples
in the January bin —
hold, look, turn,
feel for the bruises
beforehand.

And I set them out
carefully
on this paper
we call a screen
so there was time
to savor my meaning —
hold, look, turn,
let down your guard,
love.

But that proved
as elusive as the worms
that burrow in —
making scar tissue
of sweet, soft flesh,
unseen beneath the skin
where bruises bloom
and hearts stay broke.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. Image: Ceci n’est pas une pomme/This is Not an Apple by Rene Magritte. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

5 – Can You Hear Me Now?

Can you hear me now?

If a tree falls in the woods

is it inclined to consider

the possibility that no one hears it?

and does that make its falling

any less monumental?

What about the bear —

does its obvious defecation

negate the very action?

I mean

what is the value of

scat for scat’s sake

for Christ’s sake?

No matter.

It’s probably just

predictable poop.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. Image courtesy of the Yosemite Bear Team. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

4 – Coyote Vision

Coyote Vision

The shot was sharp and specific

so precise and premeditated

the anticipated yelp or howl

silent, never came

but he did, in a vision

said, this way this way quick

and we ran through trees

hidden from the path

to a den deep in the woods

a portal to another moment

he in phantom form now and

I, nothing but a thought

on a wave of breath.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. Image: Wikipedia. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.

Categories
Books Creativity Memoir Poetry

3 – The Wrong Impression

The Wrong Impression

He ran, he told me,
through the corridors of Heathrow
the framed Monet under a free arm,
it, his grand gesture
to the unrequiting, me

Monet’s water lilies
The Water Lily Pond
(to be precise)
its soft curved bridge
symbolic, perhaps,
of his efforts to cross over
from friends
to something more colorful,
shall we say?

For the untrained eye
it gave the impression of love,
but look closely to see
a thousand random dots,
their missed connections
a terminal romance.

Poem ©2021, Jen Payne. #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Month. Image: The Water Lily Pond, Claude Monet. If you like this poem, you can read similar in my books, available from Three Chairs Publishing on my ETSY SHOP. They come autographed, with gratitude and a small gift.