Interview with poet Jennifer A. Payne

Readers. My special guest today is poet/author/photographer Jennifer Payne. She’s sharing a bit
about her new collection of poems,
Evidence of
Flossing: What We Leave Behind.
Jen Payne is
inspired by those life moments that move us most — love and loss, joy and
disappointment, milestones and turning points. Her writing serves as witness to
these in the form of poetry, creative non-fiction, flash fiction and essay.
When she is not exploring our connections with one another, she enjoys writing
about our relationships with nature, creativity, and mindfulness, and how these
offer the clearest path to finding balance in our frenetic, spinning world.
creative efforts can be
found on her blog, Random Acts of Writing,
Her writing 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 the author of LOOK UP! Musings
on the Nature of Mindfulness
, and the new book Evidence of Flossing:
What We Leave Behind
What do you enjoy most about writing poems?
Many of my
poems show up as whispers of ideas. Maybe one line or two that reveal themselves…suddenly,
from out of nowhere. That’s the most exciting part—that magic! Then…what
comes next? where will that whisper lead me? To your question, what I enjoy
most is allowing the poem to show up and become what it needs to become, allowing
myself to be open to the creative spirit so I can tell the story.
Can you give us a little insight into a
few of your poems – perhaps a couple of your favorites?
One of my
favorite poems in the new book is called “Microcosm.” It’s about two separate
encounters, one with a spider on my desk, and one with a fish by a pond—and me,
wondering what they might be thinking about as we crossed paths. You know, in
that same way you wonder about the lives of people in the lit-up rooms of
houses you drive by at night?
spider had a curious look —
curious as in odd,
curious, inquisitive, intrigued.
I saw
him from the corner of my eye
me, then rummaging
a pile of paper,
again for a second look,
as if to say Who Are YOU?
(or WHAT
I suppose)
the same look of WHAT?
the fish
had as it soared over the pond
Who are YOU? to the osprey,
and WHEN did I learn to fly?
favorite is “I Am Just the World.” It was one of those poems that just showed
up, as I was saying before. I was walking on my favorite trail in the woods,
and heard the something crawling. I followed the sound and found a spotted
turtle making its way through the fall leaves. Spotted turtles are listed as a species
of concern/endangered, so this was a very special sighting. And poignant.
I Am Just the World
Pay no
I’m just
these trees,
forgotten leaves
from the sun.
Never mind
my slow
step aside for you.
myself small
so you
I am
light and love,
the god
to which you pray,
universe upon my back,
I think some
people take offense that I
anthropomorphize the creatures I meet in the woods – give them personalities
and narratives. But, it’s not like I think they are skipping around in the forest
singing and such. I use personification to get the reader to think outside of
themselves, to consider the other creatures with whom we share this planet.
We’re all connected…that is, ultimately, the theme of Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind, and of a lot of my other
What form are you inspired to write in
the most? Why?
I write mostly
free form poetry. It’s simply how my muse speaks to me right now. However, I
have been working with a group of local poets, the Guilford Poets Guild, for
the past few years. Very often they write in specific forms— a sonnet, a
haiku. I’ve been thinking I’d like to challenge myself to look to form a little
more in my work. That could be fun!
What type of project are you working on
For the near future, I’ve been thinking about
publishing a short story I wrote called Water
Under the Bridge
. It’s an
told through a series of emails. And then another book of
poetry, but that won’t be for several years.

photo by

When did you first consider yourself a
writer / poet?
I’ve been a writer for as long as I can
remember — grade school creative writing, high school newspaper, college
journalism, freelance writing, zine publishing. For the past 25 years, I’ve
been the wearer of all hats – editor, copy writer, marketing wordsmith – as the
owner of Words by Jen, a graphic design business in Branford, Connecticut.
I maintain a regular blog, Random Acts of Writing ( on which I
write essays, travelogues, book reviews, flash fiction, and poetry.
I have written poetry for much of my
life, but have gravitated to that form almost exclusively for the past three or
four years.
How do you research markets for your
work, perhaps as some advice for not-yet-published poets?
Just write.
That’s my advice. It’s very easy to get caught up in the “business” of writing
– editing, researching, preparing, submitting (and waiting), then doing that
all over again for the next poem. I call it “hoop jumping.”
Better to
just make time to do the writing, perfect your craft, connect with other writers.
Just write.
What would you say is your interesting
writing quirk?
I do my best writing
at 3:00 a.m. I love the quiet of the early hours of the morning, before anyone
else is awake. There are no distractions – none of the bells and dings and
buzzing of our social technologies. Just sweet dark quiet…and coffee.
As a child, what did you want to be when
you grew up?
Honestly? I
wanted to be Jeannie from I Dream of
. I loved her little bottle house! Wouldn’t that be a great place to
write? Plus, she had magical powers. What could be better than that?
Anything additional you want to share
with the readers?
Yes. Don’t
fight with your craft. Let it be. Let it do what it wants to do. I see a lot of
angst-ridden memes about writers. Quotes that talk about the suffering we must
endure, the anguish of writer’s block, the agony of rejection letters. Forget
all of that and Just Write. Here’s a great quote to think about from writer
Alan Moore…
“To me, all
creativity is magic. Ideas start out in the empty void of your head – and they
end up as a material thing, like a book you can hold in your hand. That is the
magical process. It’s an alchemical thing. Yes, we do get the gold out of it
but that’s not the most important thing. It’s the work itself.” ― Alan Moore
(Hey! So, maybe I have magical powers after all.)
Thanks for being
here today, Jen.
Thank you, Lisa, for this chance to talk with you and your readers about
writing and my new book!

2 thoughts on “Interview with poet Jennifer A. Payne

  1. Jen Payne says:

    Hi Lisa. Thank you so much for taking the time to interview me. It was great to talk with you and your readers about my new book, and about the magical craft of writing!

  2. Hannah Baker says:

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