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Book Signing & Art Exhibit with Local Author Jen Payne and Artist Sarah Zar

Branford 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!

Curious? Then come to a special book signing at Guilford Art Center on Saturday, February 12, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Guests can also enjoy an art exhibit by Sarah Zar, the artist who painted Hurricane Woman on the book’s cover. The event is free and open to the community. Please note, masks are required, regardless of vaccination status. See for current COVID protocols. (Snow date: Saturday, February 19)

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, it begins. 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.”

In addition to this epistolary novel, Payne has published two books of poetry — Waiting Out the Storm and Evidence of Flossing: What We Leave Behind — and a collection of essays and original photographs called LOOK UP! Musings on the Nature of Mindfulness. 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, based in Branford. 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. For more information, you can visit Her specially curated exhibit will be on view in the GAC lobby throughout February.

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, For more information, email