The Bravery of Storytelling

Several years ago, I was meeting with a client I hadn’t seen in a few years. We started with the usual Hi. How are You? I’m Fine. How are You? small talk protocol, but then she saw a reliquary hanging on the wall in my office.

The reliquary — traditionally a container for holy objects — was a mixed-media collage I had created. Within the shadowbox frame was a painting of an angel, decorated panels, pieces of a poem, and symbols: an alpha and omega, a feather, a heart. An artist herself, my client asked about the piece, and I told her the story of lost love and deep sadness that had inspired it.

When I was done, she took my hand and thanked me. Then she told me her story — the disappointment that had shaken everything she thought she knew, her attempts to heal, and how the process changed her.

So there we were, two almost-strangers, pushing through the ordinary to the extra-ordinary moments in our lives. There was no protocol for the rest of our meeting that day, instead we talked about our common experiences, the different paths, the shared emotions.

“If we can sit together and talk about what’s important to us, we begin to come alive,” writes Margaret J. Wheatley in her book Turning to One Another, Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future. “When we’re brave enough to risk a conversation, we have the chance to rediscover what it means to be human.”

Ultimately, isn’t that our charge as artists? As writers? To communicate the human experience — to bravely tell our own stories in an effort to share, to teach, to connect with others.

Make no mistake — it takes courage. It takes courage to be honest, to talk about love and loss, about success and disappointment. You have to be brave to talk about your passions and fears — both out loud and in your creative work. Writing, creating art, is not for the faint of heart. No. Writing, creating any kind of art that tells our story, takes big, brave hearts. It is from that place, from that wide open courageous place, that we create what is indeed, holy.


(Image: Divine Inspiration, mixed-media collage, by Jen Payne. Quotes from Wheatley, Margaret J., Turning to One Another, Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future. San Francisco: Berrett-Kohler Publishers, 2012.)

Find Evidence of Flossing and Explore Our Divine Connection with Nature

Every day, we are reminded of our direct effect on the world around us—the Pacific island of garbage twice the size of Texas, the billions of plastic water bottles thrown out each year, the millions of sea birds and marine mammals killed by our collective debris. But there is a great disconnect: we hear about the problems, we can understand the implications for us and for Earth, but we still consume and discard flagrantly. Our daily habits, our conveniences, our latest and greatest products defy any regard for our legacy on this magnificent planet.

Naturalist and poet Jen Payne responds to this conundrum with a heartfelt and heady collection of writing in Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Mary Oliver, she helps us explore how our human condition can be healed by rediscovering our divine connection with nature.

Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies Professor Peter Raymond says “The collection of writings and photographs powerfully remind us of our role as stewards and the positive impact we can make on the world around us.”

This curious, full-color book includes 75 poems that are underscored by an absurd and heartbreaking assortment of original and vintage photographs, including a series of discarded dental flossers that prompted the title of the book.

No matter your faith or following, Evidence of Flossing speaks 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 National Public Radio 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 and spiritual connection with nature.

Jen Payne lives and works in Connecticut. She is the owner of Words by Jen, a graphic design and creative services company founded in 1993, and a member of the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, the Connecticut Poetry Society, Guilford Arts Center, the Guilford Poets Guild, and the Independent Book Publishers Association. Her writing has been featured in several art installations and published by The Aurorean, Six Sentences, the Story Circle Network, WOW! Women on Writing, and The Perch, a publication by the Yale Program for Recovery and Community Health.

For more information or to order books, please visit the Three Chairs Publishing website, www.3chairspublishing.com. Books may also be purchase through online and independent booksellers.

Jen Payne is available for book readings, book signings, or small discussion groups featuring poems from Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, essays from LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness, or a combination of both. Please contact us for more information or to schedule an event today!


Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind.
Purchase a signed copy today!


BOOK REVIEW: Beverley Baird Reviews Evidence of Flossing

“These are definitely poems to ponder, with words and images to reflect on. Payne gives us poetry that moves us, challenges our perceptions and inspires us to look deeper into our place in the world and what our legacy can or should be. Evidence of Flossing is well worth the read – and one you will revisit over and over again.” — Beverly Baird

>> Click Here to read the full review!


This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

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GUEST BLOG POST: The Bravery of Storytelling

Today, I’m a guest blogger on Writers Pay It Forward, sharing my thoughts on…

THE BRAVERY OF STORYTELLING

Several years ago, I was meeting with a client I hadn’t seen in a few years. We started with the usual Hi. How are You? I’m Fine. How are You? small talk protocol, but then she saw a reliquary hanging on the wall in my office.

The reliquary — traditionally a container for holy objects — was a mixed-media collage I had created. Within the shadowbox frame was a painting of an angel, decorated panels, pieces of a poem, and symbols: an alpha and omega, a feather, a heart. An artist herself, my client asked about the piece, and I told her the story of lost love and deep sadness that had inspired it.

When I was done, she took my hand and thanked me. Then she told me her story — the disappointment that had shaken everything she thought she knew, her attempts to heal, and how the process changed her.

>>CLICK HERE to read the whole post.


This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

buynow


BOOK REVIEW: Nicole Pyles Reviews Evidence of Flossing

“I was so impressed with this book. It conveyed a beauty and yet sadness at the same time. I could sense the spiritual struggle within the poetry and a reflection of the world around (and the masks society often puts forward). This book is definitely a conversation piece and I can’t wait to share it with others.” — Nicole Pyles, World of My Imagination

>> Click Here to read the full review!


This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

buynow


GUEST BLOG POST: Blogging as a Creative Tool

Today, I’m a guest blogger on Words, Crazy Words, sharing my thoughts on…

BLOGGING AS A CREATIVE TOOL

One of the most inspiring art exhibits I’ve seen in recent years was called “Suddenly This Overview.” On display at the Guggenheim in New York, it featured 250 small sculptures by artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss. The sculptures were made of a pale gray, unfired clay, and were presented individually on white pedestals around the curving spiral ramp of the museum. Clean, Times New Roman captions explained Pythagoras Marveling at His Theorem, Jesus Walks on Water, the Fish Are Amazed, and (my favorite) Mr. Spock Looks at His Home Planet Vulcanus and Is a Bit Sad That He Can’t Have Any Feelings.

At the time, I was in the middle of a blogging challenge to write a poem a day for the month of April – National Poetry Month. A friend asked what it felt like to write a blog post every day, and I couldn’t help but think of the Fischli/Weiss exhibit.

>>CLICK HERE to read the whole post.


This post is part of a month-long, nationwide blog tour for my new book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, hosted by Wow! Women on Writing. Buy the book today!

buynow