Sonja Veselinović

- Serbia -

Sonja Veselinović (Novi Sad, 1981) graduated from the Department of Comparative Literature with Literary Theory at the Faculty of Philosophy, the University of Novi Sad, in 2005, finished her magister thesis (2009), and received her Ph.D. (2014).


She works as an associated professor and teaches modern and contemporary literature and theory. S. Veselinović is the author of Prevodilačka poetika Ivana V. Lalića (Ivan V. Lalić’s Poetics of Translation, 2012), Recepcija, kanon, ciljnakultura (Reception, Canon, and the Target Culture, 2018) and numerous papers and articles. Her literary career started in 2008 with the lyrical prose Poemapreko (Poem Across). In 2009 she received a Borislav Pekić grant for the novel in progress and Isidora Sekulić Award (2014) for the lyrical novel Krosfejd (Crossfade, published in 2013). In 2020 she published Proklizavanje (Slipping), a poetry collection, and received the Award Biljana Jovanović for it. Her prose and poetry is also published in several anthologies of contemporary Serbian poetry or prose (Restart, Novosadska ženska proza, Indeks 21, Nevidljiva zebra: novosadska ženska poezija, Atari generacija). Several of her pieces are translated into Hungarian, German and English, and her latest book is also published in the Macedonian language (Пролизгување, 2022).Sonja Veselinović has been a member of the editorial team of the magazine Polja since 2007.

... The poetic indicators of Sonja Veselinović’s poetry include a subtle self-ironyas a recognizable stylistic procedure, i.e. a slightly ironic treatment of the human existence and the body, intimacy, the irony towards the possibility of being able to finish, round, and stabilize anything, both in her female lyrical subject and her in poetic form. Although the concept of slipping indicates instability, change, this is, in Sonja Veselinović’s opus, a measure of a poetic consistency. From the slipping of the identity of the lyrical subject (its ontological instability, fragmentation, and multiplicity) and slipping of the genre identity to the slipping of the identity in generaland the identity as a slipping phenomenon – all realized in Poem Across (Poema preko) – she arrives at Slippings where the world and the lyrical subject are unstable, elusive, and self-elusive, open and not rounded, but aware that as such they are possible only in playing and writing. The game of writing and the game of identity, realized in Poem Across, are now in Slippings (Proklizavanja) transformed into a creative principle, a structural principle, and a metapoetic self-awareness of the possibility of achieving aesthetic effect, both through play and its corruption. (...) Sonja Veselinović’s collection Slippingsis characterized by a poetic consistency, a line of successful, innovative comparisons that defamiliarize unusual poetic images, a narrative momentum combined with introspective-meditative depth of self-immersion, as well as with the thematization of the position and the role of a modern female subject – her possibilities to be realized on a professional, family and artistic (creative) level, a subtle and layered consideration not only of a woman’s social roles, but also of her relationship to her own body, her own past, her own memories ...

- Milica Ćuković


... Although the perspectives here are not only female – in certain poems, they refer to the re-examination of the (modern) identity in general, the existence or well-being, whether they are directed towards something bigger and (un)identified (“The House Type”) or smaller than oneself (“Bait”), whether their atmosphere is virtual (“Video Games”), real (“Well-Being”), or nightmarish(“The Nocturne”, for example) – we are still mostly “on the female continent”. The female line of the family tree is followed, and the grandmother’s life wisdom remains as a family bequest. This practice continues with the offspring, the baby in the womb, when it communicates through the body, while on the social level it is realized through understanding and acceptance (the collection ends with the poem “Basil” as a symbol of the female unity). The experience is thus not at all monotonous, nor is the perspective one-sided, since most of the poems are (self-)ironic. In addition, the critical dimension of a woman’s identity covers several aspects as well and refers to the different roles of women, both in the family and as an intellectual, in different ages – as babies, girls, mistresses, mothers ...

- Sonja Milovanović


This year’s winner of the “Biljana Jovanović”Award is the author of two enchanting lyrical novels: Poem Across (2008) is a lovely dedication to Marina Tsvetaeva, and Crossfade (Krosfejd, 2013) refers to Breton’s Nadja and Andersen’s “The Snow Queen”. It is not unexpected that, after the homage to seductive female identities, the poems in Slippings are formed by a confession analysis and the analysis of confessions. However, Sonja Veselinović does not deal with feverish statistics of her own and other people’s secrets –the surprises of intimacy in her poetry are of other, more important kid. She deals with the mimicry of the memory, the elegiac record of slips that are the causes of daily failures in the process of processing the impressions. A slight nervousness pulsates quietly, dividing everyday life into “a multitude of texts” that are waiting, on the one hand, and, on the other, a part of the day that is “without words”, into which the heroine throws herself “like into a dirty pool, / with a guilty conscience and narrowed eyes”.


Seem from this sad perspective, the quotes from Poem Acrosssound like mischievously luxurious and low-intensity suffering: “I have two elbows to color them with a plot. And at least so much measure that I don’t finish what I’m writing”. Confessions in Sonja’s poetry are actually resigned everyday inevitability, but far from being a tearing, traumatic effort, just as it is not an effort to look at another, nor to remember past happiness or nightmares. Gentleness, sadness, and peace permeate these poems, as well as a sense of patient tenderness towards one’s own overstrained body and deep caution towards the world in which it is important to maintain balance.


“My father used to call me Goldilocks, and I used to tell him: I’m not golden!” – this is what Sonja’s lyrical subject used to say back in the day; these daring word plays were a part of her strategy of associations and crucifixion of meditation in 2008 when Sonja Veselinović was the winner of the Young Poets’ Festival in Zaječar, as well as six years later when she became the winner of the “IsidoraSekulić” Award. Today, she sees the world around her with a considerable amount of skepticism, with a noble respect for the deficit of logic in hordes of fragmented memories and our biographies that inadvertently falsify not our ability to bring chaos to beautifully complex facts, but our resistance to that facts that offer us attempts to discipline our own memory. Sonja’s poetic work keeps her caring for others, for a basil saleswoman who puts her money into an improvised wallet (a freezer bag), for a blue-haired old woman who is “someone else’s Cinderella”, for a grandfather who was kicked out of the kindergarten “because he taught children to swear. / Like a modern Prometheus”.


This poetry collection, which pays homage to the poet’s role models (Frank O’Hara, Sylvia Plath, Emily Dickinson, John Ashbery), draws details from everyday life in which “passers-by have palms as itchy / as magic lamps”, where a confused and numb body is a “bell tower with an unhooked bell”, and where an awkward question wanders “like a bullet”. In the introductory poem,“Women, Perspectives”, the catalog of reactions to reality announces strategies to describe the world: when answering questions and challenges, “pluralities of the deaf” are sometimes whispered in the poet.

- Vladislava Gordić Petković