NJ Hynes was the resident poet at Greenwich Rail Station in Greenwich, London during 2014-16. She has lived, worked and occasionally curated in London since 1994.
Born in Minnesota, she grew up in racially mixed North Minneapolis and then Shakopee, a small town on the Minnesota River. Her first paid job, at age 12, was as a Town Crier at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival, where she watched potters, glass blowers, jugglers and magicians perform at close hand.
She played with words as soon as she could speak, and was banned from her sisters’ room for telling stories when they wanted to sleep. In high school she won trophies for extemporaneous speaking and performing fairy tales.
At 17 she stepped on to a plane for the first time and stepped off, 20 hours later, in Cape Town, where she spent a year as an exchange student. She returned to study at the University of Minnesota and work as a lobbyist for divestiture from firms doing business in South Africa.
After collecting several degrees in anthropology, she arrived in Britain in 1994 to pursue postgraduate research on West African artists working in London. And somehow never left. She has taught at the British Museum, the Photographer’s Gallery and Birkbeck; written for Untitled, Art Monthly, and the Financial Times, among others; is an associate editor at NKA: Journal of Contemporary African Art; and co-curated “Depth of Field” at South London Gallery, featuring a photography collective based in Lagos.
In London she has worked as an editor, copy editor, and production manager. While a senior editor at the Institute of Ismaili Studies, she helped produce their ground-breaking Qur’anic Studies Series, co-published with OUP. She worked closely with scholars on translations of medieval commentaries which required English that was accessible and yet allowed the underlying Arabic to shine through.
She returned to poetry in 2001 after the 9/11 attack, drawn by a need to create an audio collage on a page, remembering Langston Hughes. Arvon workshops were followed by Poetry School courses and seminars with inspiring teachers including Myra Schneider, Mimi Khalvati and Jane Draycott. In 2009 she enrolled in an MA in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmith’s College, London, and graduated with distinction.
Her hobbies are resolutely non-verbal: snail hunting, flamenco dancing, piano playing. For eight years she was a member of the Egyptian dance group, Chic Shake Shock.
The Department of Emotional Projections is her first collection.