Books Creativity


Saturday, February 12, 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
at Guilford Art Center
411 Church Street, Guilford, CT

• Book Signing with writer Jen Payne
• “Bigger on the Inside,” exhibit by artist Sarah Zar
• Free and open to the community

Connecticut writer Jen Payne has long been inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points — and her new book WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE: A SORT-OF LOVE STORY tells of such a moment. It’s a conversation, a memoir, a love story — just in time for Valentine’s Day!

Told through a series of emails, WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE is the story of two people who reconnect after 15 years apart and work to reconcile their pasts…and futures.

She thought about him often over the years. Looked him up online occasionally to see where he was and if he was all right. It wasn’t until last fall that she found his email address, and several months more before she got up the courage to write.

Influenced by the work of Brené Brown and a proponent of the bravery of storytelling, Payne says WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE is “about having the courage to speak our truths; it’s about trust and vulnerability, and about the true blessings found when we open our hearts — come what may.”

What followed surprised her even more…

Please note, masks are required, regardless of vaccination status, please see current COVID protocols. Snow date: Saturday, February 19.

WATER UNDER THE BRIDGE: A SORT-OF LOVE STORY ($16) will be available at the Shop at Guilford Art Center (411 Church Street, Guilford, CT 06437) and from Three Chairs Publishing.

Jen Payne has published two books of poetry as well as a collection of essays and original photographs. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including the international anthology Coffee Poems: Reflections on Life with Coffee; the Guilford Poets Guild 20th Anniversary Anthology; Waking Up to the Earth: Connecticut Poets in a Time of Global Climate Crisis, edited by Connecticut’s Poet Laureate Margaret Gibson; and The Perch, a publication by the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health. Payne is the owner of Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company founded in 1993. You can read more of her work on her blog Random Acts of Writing,, and in MANIFEST (zine) which creatively explores concepts of change and transition, solitude, time, storytelling, and finding refuge in these turbulent times.

Sarah Zar is a book-obsessed, multi-disciplinary artist who has exhibited in the U.S. and abroad. Whether drawing, painting, collaging, or sculpting, Zar uses images in a literary, psychological and symbolic way. While finishing her Master’s degree, she played the saw in a gypsy chamber ensemble, taught contemporary art & aesthetics, quantum theory, literary theory, NLP, nonsense cryptology, psychology, and the art of microexpressions. Zar is currently working on community-based artwork in which anyone in the world can be painted into an epic narrative scene about the War on Imagination.

Her specially curated exhibit will be on view in the GAC lobby throughout February.

The Guilford Art Center is a non-profit school, shop, and gallery established to nurture and support excellence in the arts. Through classes for adults and children, gallery programs, a shop of contemporary crafts, and special events, the Center provides opportunities for the public to participate in the arts, to experience their cultural and historical diversity, and to appreciate the process and product of creative work. Founded in 1967, the Center currently serves over 2,000 students, presents juried and invitational exhibits of art in the Center’s gallery and operates a shop of fine, handmade American crafts year-round. The Center also presents the Craft Expo, held on the Guilford Green each year in July, that features works by more than 180 of the country’s most distinguished artisans.


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!

Self Care transition

What Treasures Await?

Last week, my nephew and I stopped at the local library for a contactless pickup of some things he’d placed on hold. He exited the lobby with a bag — a large paper grocery bag — full up with treasures, and he couldn’t have looked more excited!

From the backseat, he reached in and tallied his Christmas vacation spoils: the Scooby Doo videos, the Jurassic Park videos, the Captain Underpants book, and other classic 9-year-old contraband. He was giddy at the prospect of so much time and so much to explore!

I must confess, I am feeling likewise giddy at the prospect of 2021. It is giddy tempered by the sadness and grief we’ve all felt about 2020, but it’s a hopeful perspective nonetheless.

And while my bag of booty does not include cartoons and dinosaurs, there are plenty of treasures to yo-ho-ho about.

Just this morning, I signed up for my 9th annual Goodreads Reading Challenge with the promise to try to read 50 books. First up? Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are.

You’ll find there’s a running theme here at the top of 2021. I’m all self-improvementy right now, all I’m OK, You’re OK but everything feels like it needs a little work. Everything feels like it needs a good shaking out, really, like it needs (or I need) to be unfurled and hung out on the line to flap in the fresh air for a while.

Do you know what I mean?

Here’s a funny story…

Every year for years, I’ve kept a Vision Board here in my office. It’s included all of the things I hoped to accomplish or dreamed about. Cut out photos, postcards of dream vacations, words and sayings — all compiled to help me manifest my vision. And every morning, I’ve turned on the light, lit incense, and said a little prayer…for years…until it became rote. Rote, uninspired, spirit-less.

My vision had become spirit-less.

So last January when my friend Judith suggested I take everything off the bulletin board, I was only momentarily stunned. Stunned, then inspired.

In retrospect, I think that blank Vision Board and its lack of expectations is what saved me in 2020, what kept me sane and above water while the waves of quarantine, isolation, loss, and detachment crashed over our heads.

But it’s 2021, a gorgeous blank page at the beginning of a new chapter!

In preparation, I bought some colored pens and a new journal. Collaged its cover with purples and reds and gold leaf!

I’ve consulted the angels, petitioned the runes, and created a simple list of self-care intentions.

I am journaling now with kindred spirit Susannah Conway, unraveling my year in a series of questions and writing prompts.

I’m taking an online workshop called Finish Strong, Start Stronger, hosted by the lovely and loving Emily Fletcher.

I’m meditating on the one Word that will guide and inspire me in 2021.

And I’m gathering special pieces for a new Vision Board, creating delicious treasures to seek out in the coming year.

There’s no pressure, no grand expectations or plans, just a beautiful bag of spoils to be had if I just reach in…

©2021, Jen Payne. Photo by Davis Bartus.