Categories
Poetry Writing

Found Senryū

Testing 1 2 3

To Live Alone in the Woods

and Write, Wild She Goes

©2020, Jen Payne, senryū based on email subject lines.
Categories
Poetry Writing

Sunday Reading

for Nan

I rise up from my Sunday recline
long enough to select a proper bookmark

for surely this story deserves better
than a torn and tattered scrap
from the used bookstore, used

deserves, perhaps, a bookmark
made by an artist friend
from cut paper instead —
attended, intricate, precious

intended for just this…
this intricate story cut
from words and time
from memory and nerve

cut from the heart

©2020, Jen Payne, while reading Simple Absence: Poems & Reflections by Nancy Fitz-Hugh Meneely.
Categories
Books

July 2020


Check out my Three Chairs Publishing shop for all of these great books and more!

Categories
Poetry Writing

Dream 072220

There was snow
and she was her usual
ornery self about the matter —
I don’t like snow
in a sweet huffy fit
mirroring her petulant
I don’t like trees
when she’d sneeze.
How I miss all of that,
but I digress…

There was snow
and she was her usual:
the smile-and-laugh
approach to hard hard life,
a big and bold disguise
a wink even, I think,
and then she left.

She left and then
the living room light
turned on by itself
lit from a beam of sun
she never saw coming
coming through the window
then the radio lit for morning…

Tell me all your thoughts on God
‘Cause I’m on my way to see her

©2020, Jen Payne for Mary Anne, with thanks to Dishwalla and Counting Blue Cars.

Categories
Creativity Zine

What is life without music?

What is life without poetry?
What is life without music?

Sponsor MANIFEST (zine) today for just $25.00 and get 2 issue of this new art/poetry zine PLUS a FREE Spotify playlist that dances around the themes of change and Divine Intervention.

CLICK HERE to learn more, or just…

ONE ISSUE
July 2020
Divine Intervention
$5.00

SUBSCRIPTION
Annual, 2020
2 issues
$10.00

PROJECT SPONSOR
2 issues, 2020
plus a special gift
$25.00

Processed through Words by Jen

Categories
Memoir Poetry Writing

Memoir

In the pieces of memory
and scraps of conversations
transcribed in situ
I will tell you about
the headless groom
and the dead dog,
about the failure of Saint Raphael
and the irony of the phrase
“you could get hit by a bus.”
I’ll tell you the 15,000 words that broke me
and the ones that almost put me back together
until I realized my heart was better
cracked wide-open like that anyhow.
Now all I need to do is type

Happy Ending.

on the last page
and hope it will suffice.

Poem ©2017, Jen Payne. Image: Woman writing, Edouard Manet.
Categories
Creativity Zine

MANIFEST (zine): Divine Intervention

Part artist book, part chapbook, MANIFEST (zine) is the creation of Branford, CT writer / poet / artist Jen Payne. Consider it a hold-in-your-hands art installation featuring Jen’s writing and mixed-media collage work, along with photography, quotes, and bits and pieces of whatnot that rise to the surface as she meditates on a theme.

Layered with colors, textures, and meanings, each issue is handmade then color-copied, embellished, and intricately folded. The result is a thought-full, tactile journey with nooks and crannies for you to discover along the way.

Issue #1, DIVINE INTERVENTION asks the reader to consider the catalysts and consequences of Change: What are the forces that move us? Change us? Propel us with such acceleration that we hardly recognize ourselves?

CLICK HERE to learn more, or just…

ONE ISSUE
July 2020
Divine Intervention
$5.00

SUBSCRIPTION
Annual, 2020
2 issues
$10.00

PROJECT SPONSOR
2 issues, 2020
plus a special gift
$25.00

Processed through Words by Jen

Categories
Nature Poetry Spirituality Writing

Everything is connected…

The new white tuft in my hair
reminds me of the rabbit
who lived in my yard last spring.

I called her Idiom,
soft brown fur, also white tufted,
she taking time to smell roses
when I could not.

Now there is all the time in the world
to smell roses,
to smell daffodils, tulips, lilacs, iris, peonies
each in succession, not waiting for us
or virus or waves or protests or
the great collective consciousness to
wake the fuck up and see how it’s all connected
the microscopic virus,
the pandemics of greed and hate,
the white tuft in my hair,
the small new rabbit,
the small new baby, even
who mews like all new creatures
white, black, furred, feathered
who may or may not outrun the fox
to meet the multiflora rose next June
introduce themselves to the clover
its bumble and honey companions
I step softly over so as not to disturb
their humble prayers or mine
to a god who needs no standard,
requires no bloodletting,
asks no more than sweet, simple reverence

for everything.


©2020, Jen Payne.


Categories
Creativity Writing Zine

Happy International Zine Month

 I SWEAR I DIDN’T PLAN IT!
I swear I didn’t plan to launch my new zine, MANIFEST (zine), on the cusp of International Zine Month (thanks Alex Wrekk). But sometimes really good things happen that way!

WHAT IS A ZINE, YOU ASK?
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. Google it. You’ll be surprised by what you find!

NOW, TALK ABOUT REALLY GOOD THINGS HAPPENING…
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. Then 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 zine!

And then more BAM! The New York Times interviewed me about zines once. 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 here we are: MANIFEST (zine) and International Zine Month. Go figure!

The experience of MANIFEST (zine) so far has been pretty go-figure magical. Maybe enchanted? The idea to do a zine (again) just appeared. The first issue, Divine Intervention, practically gathered itself together — one piece inspiring the next and the next. The final printed piece makes me smile every time I look at it, and folks who have read it so far seem to feel the same way.

Bottom line? It’s really, really good to be back!

So Happy International Zine Month!

ONE ISSUE July 2020 Divine Intervention $5.00

SUBSCRIPTION Annual, 2020 2 issues $10.00

PROJECT SPONSOR 2 issues, 2020 plus a special gift $25.00

Processed through Words by Jen

LEARN MORE!

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

 

Categories
Memoir Poetry Writing

Reading Mary Oliver in a Pandemic

I’m reading Mary Oliver again
and for the first time, too, it seems,
meeting once more my kindred
in these quieter, solitary days —
only she likes dogs and I’m allergic, so
I think of the love I’ve shared with cats
and superimpose that over
what she so easily offers on the page,
allowing me to sink my feet
deep into the sand of beaches we love,
find borrowed respite and fresh salt air
as she walks and they walk and we walk.

This is not unlike my general effort of late,
translating dogs into cats,
crumbs into cake, lemons into aid,
finding devotion somewhere
in the twists and turns of what is,
of here and now, of no I don’t love dogs but I do love you,
and damn it someone should write that down
to remember before it’s too late.

Like Mary did:
gathered up all of her words
her favorite words, her treasured words
her words so precious and important
they required devotion
in this heavy record
of everything she wanted to say
and everything she held in silence

which

sometimes

is all we can offer each other.


Poem ©2020, Jen Payne upon reading Devotions by Mary Oliver. Photo from Pexels.

Categories
Books Creativity

Coping with the Unexpected

Waiting Out the Storm

Poetry by Jennifer A. Payne

“Not till we are lost, in other words not till
we have lost the world, do we begin to find
ourselves, and realize where we are
and the infinite extent of our relations.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Written from the shoreline of Connecticut and the wide and windswept beaches of Cape Cod, this book is an intimate look at life transitions and how we cope with the unexpected.

Reflecting on the sudden loss of a close friend, author Jen Payne returns, as she does in her past books LOOK UP! and Evidence of Flossing, to the solace of nature. On the opening pages, she allows the poet Rilke to remind the reader “Through the empty branches the sky remains. It is what you have. Be earth now, and evensong. Be the ground lying under that sky.”


PRINT
5.5 x 8.5, Paperback, 44 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-4-7
$15.00 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 40 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-8-5
$4.99 (digital download)

Categories
Memoir Poetry Writing

The Afghan

For Dorothy Reitbauer

“This,” my friend says, “is lovely.”
Lovely is never a word
I use to describe the ugly afghan
crocheted by my grandmother
and dragged out of storage
when guests sleep on the sofa.

It is avocado green and orange,
milk chocolate brown,
and amber gold,
like the gold my parents
painted the kitchen
of our new house back then.

“She picked each color herself,”
my friend explains,
as she carefully runs her fingers
up and over the zigzag pattern
with awe and affection,
though she never
met my grandmother.

It is the color palette
of my seventies family,
when Mom and Dad
were almost-happy still,
my sister played with Barbie
by the sliding glass window,
and my bangs were
appropriately feathered
away from my face.

“She thought about
you and your family
with each stitch.”

I could see her then,
sitting in her green recliner,
counting stitches like
the beads on her Rosary.
Love Boat on the Sylvania,
drinking instant iced tea
while a cigarette smokes
from the ashtray.

It was after her husband died,
and she traveled with her dog Coco,
bringing Shoo Fly Pie and
Moravian Sugar Cake from
Pennsylvania to our house
in Connecticut.

That Christmas,
she crocheted ponchos for us, too,
and took me to Hawaii
to see my Grandfather’s name
carved in marble at the
Pearl Harbor Memorial,
watch as she traced his name
with her fingers, slowly.

The same deft hands
that crafted this blanket
raised a son and daughter
independently in the fifties;
folded in prayer
for neighbors and friends;
prepared feasts
with love
for grandchildren.

“So much thought went into this,”
my friend continues,
as we carefully fold the afghan
and place it on top
of the antique hope chest
in the corner.

“Each stitch, each row,
holds love and memories.”

 

©2009, Jen Payne. Written for my grandmother, Dorothy Reitbauer. Seen here in 1943/44.

Categories
Books Creativity

Discover the Possibility of Divine Connection

EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING: What We Leave Behind

Poems & Musings by Jen Payne
80+ Original & Vintage Color Photographs

Would God floss? Do spiders sing? Can you see the Universe in your reflection?

Part social commentary, part lament, the poems in Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind are, at their heart, love poems to the something greater within all of us. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Mary Oliver, naturalist Jennifer Payne explores the essence of spiritual ecology: the human condition juxtaposed to the natural world and the possibility of divine connection.

Its pages are illustrated by an absurd and heartbreaking assortment of original and vintage color photographs, including a series of discarded dental flossers that prompted the title of the book.

No matter your faith or following, the poems and musings in Evidence of Flossing speak to the common heart that beats in you and in me, in the woods and on the streets, across oceans and around this planet. It is, as NPR contributor David Berner writes, “an unflinching account of our unshakeable relationship to the modern world…God, nature, and ourselves.”

Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind follows on the heels of Payne’s 2014 well-received book LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, and continues a dialogue about our innate connection with nature.


PRINT
178 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, Color Photos
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-1-6
$21.99 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 174 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-7-8
$4.99 (digital download)


LEARN MORE
About the Book
Reviews + Press
Preview the Book
Watch the Trailer
About the Author


Categories
Books

Summer 2020

Check out my Three Chairs Publishing shop for all of these great books for summer!

Categories
Creativity

A Naturalist’s Journal of Connections

LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness

75 ESSAYS & POEMS by
Branford, Connecticut Writer Jen Payne
Nature – Balance – Spirituality – Connection

100 ORIGINAL COLOR PHOTOS
of the Woods & Shoreline of Connecticut

QUOTATIONS by Philosophers, Poets
Naturalists, and Treasured Writers

LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness is a journal of one woman’s reconnection with Nature, told through essays and poems by writer Jennifer Payne, and illustrated by 100 stunning, full-color photographs of the woods and shoreline of Connecticut.

LOOK UP! narrates Jen’s personal journey from running her own business 24/7 to the rediscovery of the joys she knew as a child playing outdoors and a new connection with the world around her. Follow along on this journey, season by season, through journaled reflections about nature, life, breath, mindfulness, balance, spirit.

Woven in between, you’ll meet kindred spirits like Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman — each one expressing his or her own connection with Nature. From ancient texts including the Bible and the Dhammapada to contemporary teachers like the Dalai Lama and Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the writings of Shakespeare to current-day authors, naturalists, artists and bloggers — you will come to understand the vast and wonderful lessons to be learned in the natural world.

“When I finally learned to look up,” Jen writes, “I found my way back to that spirit who loved to play outside, who was curious about her surroundings, whose imagination knew no boundaries. When I finally learned to look up, I found much more — peace, solace, joy, connection.”


PRINT
288 pages, 5×7, 100 Color Photos
Index, Bibliography
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-0-9
$24.95 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 287 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-6-1
$4.99 (digital download)


LEARN MORE
Preview the Book
Reviews + Press
About the Author


buynow

Categories
Nature Poetry

Thursday Rain

The contrast of
misty gray
against
May green
in the treetops
out the window
tells me it’s raining
before I even hear
the gentle tapping
on leaves
and grass
and spring flowers
bowed in gratitude
for the veil of quiet
descending

even poets bow
for the respite
stay inside
the rain says,
there’s a poem waiting

Photo and Poem ©2020, Jen Payne
Categories
Poetry Travel

Heist

I drove the get-away car that day,
left it on idle in the parking space
closest to the electronic OUT door
of Porter’s Grocery there in Alpine.

It was a bright Texas day, hot,
the car angled in shade enough
for a clear-on view of the lobby,
bulletin board, handbills, and tacks.

We’d scoped out the joint before,
cased the aisles for jerky
and a bottle of wine for dinner
back in Marfa at the Thunderbird.

There was a nice patio
outside our room with blue lights
like the alien spaceships
you could see there sometimes?

Funny things in that part of Texas:
spaceships and meteors,
a roadside Prada shoe outlet,
Chinati’s take on art, and ours.

Ours was her, Viva Terlingua!
in her sunset-red cowboy hat,
hand-strung turquoise beads, and
that witty West Texas smile.

It’s a smile that says just about all
you want to say about West Texas,
about the wild Trans-Pecos
and its wide expanse of stars.

It’s a promise of whiskey at La Kiva,
or hot coffee while the sun rises
over Terlingua and Study Butte
over Big Bend and the Rio Grande.

It’s a smile that remembers solitude,
the promise of oddity and isolation,
of community, maybe, companionship —
two friends on the road laughing.

It’s the awesome sound a car makes solo
on a nighttime desert highway,
or peeling out from the Porter’s,
Viva Terlingua! rolled up in the back seat.

 


Viva Terlingua! was featured on a 2010 poster from the Original Terlingua Chili Championship. The artwork is by Texas-based artist Frank X. Tolbert 2. You can see more of his amazing work on his website, here. The Original Terlingua Chili Championship ( link ) was started in 1967 by his father Frank X. Tolbert Sr. and a group of local men. Special thanks to his daughter, Kathleen Ryan, for filling in these details on a recent serendipitous Saturday.


Serendipity Part 2: While searching for the artist who created the original for this poster, I emailed the folks at the Original Terlingua Chili Championship. The woman I contacted was Kathleen Ryan, who turned out to be the daughter of the one of the event’s founders, and sister of the artist. Now I just found out she is also THE WOMAN IN THE PAINTING! Unbelievable!


Poem ©2020, Jen Payne. For DeLinda, of course, road trip partner in crime. Written as part of the Guilford Poets Guild’s month-long celebration ekphrastic poetry, see here.
Categories
Poetry

Ever Effervescent

For Mary Anne Siok

 

Is it the stylish air that draws you?

The sexy, bold sashay?

Perhaps her warm, broad smile

and the laugh that is her way?

 

Do you wonder what beguiles you?

Enchants you to draw near?

As if gifted by the Graces.

Sweet Splendor, Mirth and Cheer.

 

But we know what draws us close to her.

What sets her far above.

A spirit filled with joy and

a heart that brims with love.

 


She asked me once to write her a poem. Probably not my best, but Mary Anne Siok in every word. The world is not the same, my friend. I miss you…daily.


©2020, Jen Payne. Photo: Mary Anne circa 1990.
Categories
Books Creativity

Would God floss? Do spiders sing? Can you see the Universe in your reflection?

EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING: What We Leave Behind

Poems & Musings by Jen Payne
80+ Original & Vintage Color Photographs

Would God floss? Do spiders sing? Can you see the Universe in your reflection?

Part social commentary, part lament, the poems in Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind are, at their heart, love poems to the something greater within all of us. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Mary Oliver, naturalist Jennifer Payne explores the essence of spiritual ecology: the human condition juxtaposed to the natural world and the possibility of divine connection.

Its pages are illustrated by an absurd and heartbreaking assortment of original and vintage color photographs, including a series of discarded dental flossers that prompted the title of the book.

No matter your faith or following, the poems and musings in Evidence of Flossing speak to the common heart that beats in you and in me, in the woods and on the streets, across oceans and around this planet. It is, as NPR contributor David Berner writes, “an unflinching account of our unshakeable relationship to the modern world…God, nature, and ourselves.”

Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind follows on the heels of Payne’s 2014 well-received book LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, and continues a dialogue about our innate connection with nature.


PRINT
178 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, Color Photos
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-1-6
$21.99 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 174 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-7-8
$4.99 (digital download)


LEARN MORE
About the Book
Reviews + Press
Preview the Book
Watch the Trailer
About the Author


Categories
Creativity

Reflections on Nature, Life, Breath, Balance, Spirit

LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness

75 ESSAYS & POEMS by
Branford, Connecticut Writer Jen Payne
Nature – Balance – Spirituality – Connection

100 ORIGINAL COLOR PHOTOS
of the Woods & Shoreline of Connecticut

QUOTATIONS by Philosophers, Poets
Naturalists, and Treasured Writers

LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness is a journal of one woman’s reconnection with Nature, told through essays and poems by writer Jennifer Payne, and illustrated by 100 stunning, full-color photographs of the woods and shoreline of Connecticut.

LOOK UP! narrates Jen’s personal journey from running her own business 24/7 to the rediscovery of the joys she knew as a child playing outdoors and a new connection with the world around her. Follow along on this journey, season by season, through journaled reflections about nature, life, breath, mindfulness, balance, spirit.

Woven in between, you’ll meet kindred spirits like Emily Dickinson, Henry David Thoreau, and Walt Whitman — each one expressing his or her own connection with Nature. From ancient texts including the Bible and the Dhammapada to contemporary teachers like the Dalai Lama and Jon Kabat-Zinn, from the writings of Shakespeare to current-day authors, naturalists, artists and bloggers — you will come to understand the vast and wonderful lessons to be learned in the natural world.

“When I finally learned to look up,” Jen writes, “I found my way back to that spirit who loved to play outside, who was curious about her surroundings, whose imagination knew no boundaries. When I finally learned to look up, I found much more — peace, solace, joy, connection.”


PRINT
288 pages, 5×7, 100 Color Photos
Index, Bibliography
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-0-9
$24.95 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 287 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-6-1
$4.99 (digital download)


LEARN MORE
Preview the Book
Reviews + Press
About the Author


buynow

Categories
Books Creativity

Love Poems to the Something Greater within All of Us

EVIDENCE OF FLOSSING: What We Leave Behind

Poems & Musings by Jen Payne
80+ Original & Vintage Color Photographs

Would God floss? Do spiders sing? Can you see the Universe in your reflection?

Part social commentary, part lament, the poems in Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind are, at their heart, love poems to the something greater within all of us. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Mary Oliver, naturalist Jennifer Payne explores the essence of spiritual ecology: the human condition juxtaposed to the natural world and the possibility of divine connection.

Its pages are illustrated by an absurd and heartbreaking assortment of original and vintage color photographs, including a series of discarded dental flossers that prompted the title of the book.

No matter your faith or following, the poems and musings in Evidence of Flossing speak to the common heart that beats in you and in me, in the woods and on the streets, across oceans and around this planet. It is, as NPR contributor David Berner writes, “an unflinching account of our unshakeable relationship to the modern world…God, nature, and ourselves.”

Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind follows on the heels of Payne’s 2014 well-received book LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, and continues a dialogue about our innate connection with nature.


PRINT
178 pages, 5.5 x 8.5, Color Photos
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-1-6
$21.99 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 174 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-7-8
$4.99 (digital download)


LEARN MORE
About the Book
Reviews + Press
Preview the Book
Watch the Trailer
About the Author


Categories
Books Creativity

Finding the Solace of Nature

Waiting Out the Storm

Poetry by Jennifer A. Payne

“Not till we are lost, in other words not till
we have lost the world, do we begin to find
ourselves, and realize where we are
and the infinite extent of our relations.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Written from the shoreline of Connecticut and the wide and windswept beaches of Cape Cod, this book is an intimate look at life transitions and how we cope with the unexpected.

Reflecting on the sudden loss of a close friend, author Jen Payne returns, as she does in her past books LOOK UP! and Evidence of Flossing, to the solace of nature. On the opening pages, she allows the poet Rilke to remind the reader “Through the empty branches the sky remains. It is what you have. Be earth now, and evensong. Be the ground lying under that sky.”


PRINT
5.5 x 8.5, Paperback, 44 pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-4-7
$15.00 (plus tax + shipping)

EBOOK
Epub, 40 Pages
ISBN: 978-0-9905651-8-5
$4.99 (digital download)

Categories
Creativity

Poet Jen Payne

In celebration of National Poetry Month, members of the Guilford Poets Guild were invited to share their thoughts about poetry and the life of a poet. Here’s what poet Jen Payne had to say:

How did you come to being a poet?
My Dad was a salesman and traveled a lot when I was little. We used to write letters to each other — I’d tuck mine in his suitcase, he’d mail his from the road. That’s how I started writing.

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
Unfortunately, yes. I have an old journal full of the sad, sappy things. We’ve all gotta start somewhere, right?

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
I write essays about creativity, spirituality, wellness, and nature for my blog, Random Acts of Writing. And I’ve been working on some short-form memoir pieces, one of which — Water Under the Bridge: A Sort-of Love Story, is coming out as a book sometime later this spring.

What has been the defining moment in your life as a poet/writer?
I think the first defining moment was when I was 15 — a hand-written note from an editor at Seventeen Magazine thanking me for my submission. They didn’t print the article, but the editor said I showed much talent. I wore that feather in my cap for a long time!

The most recent moment would be getting to read the poems from my book Evidence of Flossing at a Guilford Poets Guild Second Thursday reading a few years ago. Wow!

How long have you been a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and what’s that like?
I was invited to be part of the Guild by Gwen Gunn and Margaret Iacobellis in 2015. We meet twice a month to share and kindly critique our work, and it’s a pretty cool experience. I mean, you’re reading your poems in a circle of award-winning, published poets including a couple of poets laureate, and they read your work and comment liberally. You’re free to take their advice, or not, but either way — I think you’re a better poet for the experience.

What inspires your writing today?
Everything and anything, really, if I let it in. Most days, though, a walk in the woods or on the beach is good for some bit of a poem.

Describe your poem-writing process.

Random muse chatter.
A couple of words buzz around. A first line.
Oh. Hmmm. Better write that down!
Scribble. Jot. Scribble. Jot.
Write. Write. Nope. Write.
Write. Write. Nope. Write.
Write. Write. Nope. Write.
Read to self.
Scribble. Jot. Write. Nope.
Scribble. Jot. Write. Nope.
Read to self.
Read to self.
Yes. Yes. YES!
Title?
Title.
Done.

Something like that. Unless you ignore those first few words. Usually then you get nothing and go on about your day without a poem.

Where do you like to write? With what?
I work from home, and I kinda live on the computer in my office. That’s where I write mostly. Except when I travel. Then I just bring a spiral notebook and some pens. Favorites are old-school blue Bic pens and Gold Fiber spiral-bound Project Planners.

Who are you favorite poets and authors?
Poets: Mary Oliver, Emily Dickinson. The first poet I ever read was Rod McKuen who still holds a special place in my heart. Shel Silverstein. Authors: Ransom Riggs, Barbara Kingsolver, Amy Tan, May Sarton, Natasha Pulley, Sarah Perry, Roland Merullo. I’ll stop now…

What book are you currently reading? (poetry or not)
The Kitchen God’s Wife by Amy Tan, Devotions by Mary Oliver, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

Poem in Your Pocket Day is celebrated during National Poetry Month in April. What’s your favorite poem to carry about or share with others?
I memorized Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” in 10th grade and never forgot it. It’s my 38-year-old party trick. I don’t even need a pocket. What fun!

JABBERWOCKY
By Lewis Carroll

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe

Any last words?
Just write. Sit down, open the door and let it in. Then just write.

Jen Payne is inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and disappointment, milestones and turning points. Under the imprint Three Chairs Publishing, Jen has published four books: LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, FLOSSING, the poetry chapbook Waiting Out the Storm, and Water Under the Bridge: A Sort-of Love Story. Her writing has been published in numerous publications including the international anthology Coffee Poems: Reflections on Life with Coffee, the Guilford Poets Guild 20th Anniversary Anthology, and in The Perch, a publication by the Yale Program for Recovery & Community Health. Jen is the owner is Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company founded in 1993, based in Branford, Connecticut. She is a member of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, the Connecticut Poetry Society, Guilford Arts Center, and the Guilford Poets Guild. You can find more of her work at http://www.randomactsofwriting.net or purchase copies of her books online (click here).

Guilford Poets Guild

In celebration of National Poetry Month, members of the Guilford Poets Guild were invited to share their thoughts about poetry and the life of a poet. Here’s what poet Jen Payne had to say:

How did you come to being a poet?
My Dad was a salesman and traveled a lot when I was little. We used to write letters to each other — I’d tuck mine in his suitcase, he’d mail his from the road. That’s how I started writing.

Do you remember the first poem you ever wrote?
Unfortunately, yes. I have an old journal full of the sad, sappy things. We’ve all gotta start somewhere, right?

What else do you write besides poetry? Do you have other creative pursuits?
I write essays about creativity, spirituality, wellness, and nature for my blog, Random Acts of Writing. And I’ve been working on some short-form memoir pieces, one of…

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Categories
Books Creativity Poetry

8 – Dream’s Landscape

They were holding umbrellas

made of stone

granite I think, pink

like the kind that seeps

from moss on my walks

by the old quarry.

Umbrellas of stone

but inverted as if

the lion winds of March

caught them off guard,

as if they were vessels now

large stone blossoms

held overhead

in a field of people

frozen in time

and waiting out a storm.

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing Month. For more about the umbrella art installation pictured above, see “Enchanting Cloud of 1,100 Umbrellas Suspend Above a Grand Hall,” By Kristine Mitchell. 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 Poetry

7 – Imposter Poet

I am no more fit for the poetic form than I was the 9-to-5 work day

I learned that lesson early…by 27 my own task master

with no rhyme or reason to the days since.

They flow as they will or they should — meant to be

whispers the woman beneath the weight anything else.

Meant to be, too, the poems.

Never sonnet or senryu

villanelle or paradelle

rondeau, rispetto, or ode.

They are short and sweet or long and leggy

begging for edits, or begging for more:

I want some more please.

What, you think a free-verse poem doesn’t beg?

Doesn’t hold itself up and ask you to decide

……….half empty or half full?

……….half-baked or baked to perfection?

But how are you to know, really?

Especially if you dance to the beat

of that different drum and the music is so loud

you can’t hear yourself think

never mind rhyme.

 

So, never mind rhyme.

I don’t, and you don’t mind me.

 

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing Month. Photo by Tasha Kamrowski. 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 Poetry

6 – Star Child

Curled small on the driveway,

only seen for the cruel contrast

black beneath pale pink white skin,

star child, squirrel child no matter

she stayed in the palm of my hand,

nuzzled into the warmth of a thumb

womb, nest, home, heaven

‘til neither of us could bear

that cold, damp morning

that cold, wet pavement

that cold and unforgiving world

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

5 – Sunday Haiku

the day is quiet

save for the slow, soft hum

of a cat snoring

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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 Poetry

4 – Pandemic Pause

The construct of time

in our pandemic pause

is such that my computer

now tells me the day —

in small letters the date, too —

and the hours move by

so slowly we seem suspended,

teetering here on trust

that the sun begins the day still,

and the dark is when we rest

and dream of crowds of people

— or that one we adore — before

the sun rises on another day as is

but another day closer, too

and find in that somewhere: Joy.


Right before the world shut down, I was working with photographer Joy Bush to promote her new exhibit at City Gallery in New Haven. We had a phone call scheduled, so I set my phone alarm: 8:50AM, Joy. That’s what inspired today’s poem. You can check out Joy’s thoughtful work on her website: www.joybushphotography.com.


©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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
Creativity Poetry

3 – Useful

It appears they mostly need it

for its usefulness:

can it produce

assist

support

respond

perform the necessary tasks

be present

be invisible

 

but there’s a deficit

in the transaction

that no one seems to notice

except me

 

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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
Creativity Poetry

2 – Soap

It’s a small bar,
tucks into my hand
smooth and white

I’ve pulled it from
its palm-tree wrapper
the one that tells me
in small letters
Soap – Savon – Jabón

It smells like Cape Cod,
that hotel room
with the view of water,
the southern wind
just off the beach,
the cedar trees,
and fresh-washed towels,

so I sing more than 20 seconds —
maybe 40 or 60 seconds —
long enough to stay until
the sun lifts up
and I recognize the day,
my self maybe too,
in a mirror so far away.

 

This poem was featured as part of POETS OF THE PANDEMIC on the website Headline Poetry & Press, April 16, 2020.

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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
Creativity Poetry

1 – Level Up!

He was a giant black dog

wooly from toes to eyes

— if he had them —

and every morning

on my way to school

at the end of the street

he would race down his driveway

…..growling

………..non-stop

……………full speed

………………..and full bark

full enough to scare anyone

most especially my 11-year-old self

who hadn’t quite figured out

what to do with her monsters yet

except run, run, run.

 

Then His name is Sam,

a voice yelled from a dark, dusty window

in the gray house set back from the road,

Sam, it rolled down the driveway

and across my path, a magic coin,

a power token, password — SAM

and I knew exactly what to do!

 

The next morning, I bravely stood,

hands on hips and waited

David me for Goliath he

at the end of his driveway

waited and waited and waited

until Sam came out,

…..charging

……….non-stop

……………full speed

………………..and full bark

SAM, SIT! I yelled as loudly as I could

SIT, SAM, SIT!

And then he sat.

And I did too.

First monster vanquished. Level up!

 

©2020, Jen Payne. National #NaPoWriMo. National Poetry Writing 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
Creativity Poetry

It’s National Poetry Month!

Happy National Poetry Month! Here at Random Acts of Writing, we’re going to be writing a poem a day — #NaPoWriMo — so check back daily! But did you know that National Poetry Month was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in April 1996? Over the years, it has become the largest literary celebration in the world with schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets celebrating poetry’s vital place in our culture. Here are 30 ways you can participate…

  1. Sign-up for Poem-a-Day and read a poem each morning.

  2. Sign-up to receive a free National Poetry Month poster, or download the PDF, and display it for the occasion.

  3. Read last year’s most-read poem, Naomi Shihab Nye’s “Kindness.”

  4. Record yourself reading a poem, and share why you chose that work online using the hashtag #ShelterinPoems. Be sure to tag @poetsorg on twitter and instagram!

  5. Subscribe to the Poem-a-Day podcast.

  6. Check out an e-book of poetry from your local library.

  7. Begin your virtual meetings or classes by reading a poem.

  8. Talk to the teachers in your life about Teach This Poem.

  9. Learn more about poets and virtual poetry events in your state.

  10. Read about your state poet laureate.

  11. Browse Poems for Kids.

  12. Buy a book of poetry from your local bookstore.

  13. Make a poetry playlist.

  14. Browse the glossary of terms and try your hand at writing a formal poem.

  15. Create an online anthology of your favorite poems on Poets.org.

  16. Organize a poetry reading, open mic, or poetry slam via a video conferencing service.

  17. Sign up for an online poetry class or workshop.

  18. Donate books of poetry to little free libraries and mutual aid networks.

  19. Research and volunteer with poetry organizations in your area.

  20. Take a walk and write a poem outside.

  21. Start a virtual poetry reading group or potluck, inviting friends to share poems.

  22. Write an exquisite corpse or a renga with friends via email or text.

  23. Take on a guerrilla poetry project in your building.

  24. Read essays about poetry like Edward Hirsch’s “How to Read a Poem,” Mary Ruefle’s “Poetry and the Moon,” Mark Doty’s “Tide of Voices: Why Poetry Matters Now,” and Muriel Rukeyser’s “The Life of Poetry.”

  25. Watch a movie, lecture, or video featuring a poet.

  26. Read and share poems about the environment in honor of Earth Day.

  27. Make a poetry chapbook.

  28. Submit your poems to a literary magazine or poetry journal.

  29. Make a poem to share on Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 30, 2020.

  30. Make a gift to support the Academy of American Poets free programs and publications and keep celebrating poetry year-round!

National Poetry Month poster, with permission from the Academy of American Poets. Artwork by Samantha Aikman.
Categories
Creativity Poetry

Countdown to NaPoWriMo!

Ready to write?

Sharpen up your pencils. Gather your pens. Dust off the Corona (not that one). And boot up the computer, because National Poetry Month begins next Wednesday, April 1.

No joke!

And National Poetry Month means, among other things, it’s time for NaPoWriMo = National Poetry Writing Month, in which we attempt, once again, to write 30 poems in 30 days! Check it out > www.napowrimo.net!

I sense a little resistance. A bit of “my poems aren’t good enough” or “my poems would never be ready for prime time in one day.” To which I say: Pshaw!

NaPoWriMo is not about perfection or polish. It’s about practice. A daily practice of sitting with your craft and watching what comes up. It’s like practicing yoga and seeing how deep you can go. Or singing scales to tune the instrument of your voice. It’s stretching so your writing muscles don’t seize up and stop working for you.

Besides, let’s be honest, you’ll have plenty of time on your chapped and over-washed hands in the next month — why not spend some of it doing something you love?

Like writing poetry.

Are you with me?

Here’s some more information if you’d like to play along.

NaPoWriMo FAQs
Participating Writers
• There’s a contest for that: NaPoWriMo Chapbook Contest
• They’re’ not all winners, but these are my NaPoWriMo archives

Be safe. Take care. And Happy writing!