BOOK REVIEW: How to Be a Good Creature

HOW TO BE A GOOD CREATURE
A Memoir in 13 Animals
Written by Sy Montgomery
Illustrated by Rebecca Green

Understanding someone who belongs to another species can be transformative. No one knows this better than author, naturalist, and adventurer Sy Montgomery. To research her books, Sy has traveled the world and encountered some of the planet’s rarest and most beautiful animals. From tarantulas to tigers, Sy’s life continually intersects with and is informed by the creatures she meets.

This restorative memoir reflects on the personalities and quirks of thirteen animals—Sy’s friends—and the truths revealed by their grace. It also explores vast themes: the otherness and sameness of people and animals; the various ways we learn to love and become empathetic; how we find our passion; how we create our families; coping with loss and despair; gratitude; forgiveness; and most of all, how to be a good creature in the world.


One of my favorite movies as a child was Dr. Doolittle. (The Rex Harrison classic, thank you.) Well, flash forward a few decades and meet naturalist Sy Montgomery and her menagerie of friends—the dog, the pig, the octopus, the spider. And more. From the stunning cover design to the sweet interior illustrations and through each charming story, you’ll get a new look at this world from the perspective of Montgomery and her chance encounters with the animals who have changed her life…and might just change yours. — Jen Payne

New Haven Bioregional Group POTLUCK & POETRY

SATURDAY, JANUARY 26 • 6:00 p.m.
First Unitarian Universalist Society of New Haven
featuring Evidence of Flossing by Naturalist Jen Payne

On Saturday, January 26, the New Haven Bioregional Group will host author and naturalist Jen Payne for a poetry reading and book signing featuring her book Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind. The event, held at the First Unitarian Universalist Society of New Haven (608 Whitney Avenue, New Haven), begins with a potluck supper at 6PM, followed by the reading at 7PM.

Come listen to a selection of poems that are, at their heart, love poems to the something greater within all of us. Inspired by Henry David Thoreau, John Muir, and Mary Oliver, they explore the human condition juxtaposed to the natural world and the possibility of divine connection.

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. Both books will be available at the event, which is free and open to the public.

Jen Payne enjoys writing about our relationships with each other, with our natural world, and with our innate creativity. Installations of her poetry were featured in exhibitions at the Arts Council of Greater New Haven and Kehler Liddell Gallery (New Haven), and her work has been 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 & Community Health. Jen is a member of the Guilford Poets Guild and the Connecticut Poetry Society. You can find more of her work on her blog Random Acts of Writing, www.randomactsofwriting.net.

Connecting New Haveners to their life place, the New Haven Bioregional Group sponsors walks, films, canoe trips, potlucks, and other events to help us connect with our natural and built environment, and to build community and local resilience.

For more information about this event and others, please visit www.newhavenbioregionalgroup.org.

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!


TRAILER: Evidence of Flossing

The writing 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 Jen Payne explores the essence of spiritual ecology: the human condition juxtaposed to the natural world and the possibility of divine connection through a series of poems and short musings. The 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. CLICK HERE to purchase your copy today!



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