Natalija Milovanović

- Slovenia -

Natalija Milovanović (1995) is a poet who writes in Slovenian and Serbian. She was born in Serbia, grew up in Bosnia and Herzegovina, got her high school and Bachelor’s degree in Slovenia, and her Master’s degree in Translation Studies in Austrian city of Graz, where she currently lives and works. As a translator from Serbian into Slovene, she participates in the European project “Connecting Emerging Literary Artists”, and in the reverse direction she translates young Slovene literature for the anthology Rukopisi, yearly collection of U30 prose and poetry from ex-Yugoslavia.


Before publishing her debut, she published her texts in the bilingual anthology Biće bolje/Bo že [It will be fine, bilingual] (Ljubljana, SKC Danilo Kiš, 2019); in co-authorship with Tanja Božić, she wrote the performative poetry dialogue Udomačevanje domačih živali/Pripitomljavanje domaćih životinja [Domestication of Domestic Animals, bilingual] (Ljubljana, self-published, 2019), dedicated to the themes of migration(s), language(s), and voice(s), which also take an important place in the following solo collection. The duo’s performance, in addition to appearances at literary festivals and events across Slovenia and in Montenegro, was also recorded in the studio of the radio station Radio Študent and is available online.

Milovanović’s poetry collection Samoumevno [Taken for Granted] was published in 2021 (Ljubljana, Center za slovensko književnost). It got the Award for the Best Debut at the 37th Slovenian Book Fair and was selected for Pranger festival 2022, a gathering of poets, critics and translators of poetry, as well as for the booklet 10 Books from Slovenia 2022, in which 21 selectors select best books of the past year and present them in English. This publication is also available online.


Miša Gams writes in her review for ARS radio: “Natalija Milovanović’s poetry is characterised by subtlety and playfulness – the poet is aware of her feelings at every moment and analyses them systematically in accordance with her beliefs, successfully manoeuvring between childlike spontaneity and performativity on the one hand, and embeddedness in the structure of language on the other.”


Miha Marek, another critic, also mentions language embeddedness. He writes in his in-depth critical review of the book: “Milovanović, who always methodically points out that she does not write in her mother tongue, but in a ‘foreign language’, thus builds her poetry on ‘de‑automatising taking the mother tongue for granted’ (as she puts it in an interview). With the provocative premise that poetry is an ‘alienation’ of one's own, supposedly natural language, she challenges the well-known canonical thought of Paul Celan, according to whom poetry can only be written in the mother tongue. Thus, the book poses an innovative tension about poetic language from the outset, different from the Slovenian-English tension that often appears in recent poetry.”


The cycle of poems Brestanica – that is also presented here at Versopolis – is one dealing with violence, trauma, their repetitions and collective memory. Miha Marek explains: “From linguistic assimilation as violence against the individual, we turn to a vision of history as the repetition of collective violence. Language also collapses at the scale of historical evil, which [...] rises for the last time in the great symbolic weave that concludes the book: a cycle of poems about the town of Brestanica (formerly Rajhenburg) in Slovenian Dolenjska region, which was a prisoner‑of‑war camp during the Second World War, and where the Nazis held office in the nearby Rajhenburg Castle. In the intertwining of memory, fantasy and recorded history, a dark symbolic figure emerges, the ‘grandmotheroctopus’, a mysterious figure who ultimately remains as perhaps the only solid point holding the language together. This remembered and at the same time symbolic grandmother, ‘who never moved but lived / in seven state systems’, living proof of the arbitrariness of historical events, has seen it all: ‘everything has already happened’, as the motto from the beginning and the end of the collection puts it.” (Miha Marek, Literatura: mesečnik za književnost. 34:369, ISSN 0353-5622, Ljubljana: LUD Literatura, 150–155)


Natalija Milovanović’s poems have so far been translated into English, German, Spanish, Serbian and Macedonian.