TBQ Artist Series: JJ Lynne

By Brian O'Connor


JJ Lynne is a poet, pug mum, and potential palmist who earned her BA in English from Merrimack College. Her writing and artwork have recently appeared or are forthcoming in PANK, Hobart, A Narrow Fellow, and Stirring. She is co-editor of poetry for Paper Nautilus.

Tell us a little about yourself.

My interests in photography and poetry have almost always been with me, but for a long time I treated them as mutually exclusive art forms. Often, if I was stuck for a subject to write about, I would turn to photographs in books, magazines, or my own albums to help find a subject that would engage me, but it hadn’t yet occurred to me that photos could remain a part of my process long after simply lending a bit of inspiration to me.

What’s your main inspiration behind your work?

When I began to play with collage art and mixed media a few years ago, I realized that the stories I was telling through words and images could be married to pack a more powerful punch. I take thousands of photographs each year, but when it comes to choosing those I use in my collages, they are always those that feel most personal to me. Usually the photo comes first, and then I build the story around it. The micropoems that I create to accompany the photographs are constructed from words and phrases rescued from discarded library books and periodicals, giving new life to beautiful words and sounds that may otherwise find themselves buried in landfills.

What drew you to create this gallery?

The images in these collages were all taken between 2009 and 2011, but the poems that accompany them were not written until 2014. “Lovely Bird” and “SOS” are both self-portraits taken during a time when I was particularly self-critical, so I turned to my camera to preserve and examine this creature known as “self” who I felt strangely alienated from, and the poems are also a reflection of that feeling. “Man’s Requirement” and “Clinging” shift the perspective toward the outside world. In “Man’s Requirement” I used one of my favorite photos of my boyfriend of 8 years as the base. It is one of the first collages I created, and was also one of the most difficult, in that I felt like I was defacing something sacred by covering his face. “Clinging” was taken during a photo shoot that I did with two long-time best friends who would soon be heading off to college. The accompanying poem is my take on the emotional experience of knowing that you will soon be separated from someone that holds a significant part of your heart in her hands.

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