On 19 November, NEMA's Birthday Edition came out, for which I wrote a special piece, titled: Kazuo Ishiguro: Internacionalni pisac i književni laureat / Kazuo Ishiguro: International Writer and Nobel Laureate in Literature. I say 'special' because Kazuo Ishiguro is one of my favourite authors, and his novels have been a great inspiration for my own work, as well as the topic for my MA thesis back in 2014.
I was thrilled to hear that Ishiguro is this year's recipient of Nobel's Prize in Literature and honoured to have an opportunity to write a few words on some of this writer's brilliant accomplishments.
Sincere congratulations to Mr Ishiguro. \(＾▽＾)/
More excellent news! I'm happy and honoured to share that I will be a writer-in-residence in fiction at Q21 / MuseumsQuartier in Vienna for two months in the spring of 2018. \(＾▽＾)/ This is such a fantastic opportunity, and I am more than grateful for it. During my stay, I will be working on a short story collection inspired by the lives and the stories of the native-born children of immigrants and refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the Balkans in general, as well as the first-generation of immigrants and refugees who came to Austria as small children. By spending two months in Vienna - the incontrovertible capital of evolving culture and artistic contribution to the global Society - I will also be able to gain deeper understanding of other cultures, which is vital, not only for my growth as a person and a writer, but for the novel series I'm currently working on as well. All in all - can't wait! I think 2018 is going to be a creative and fruitful year. Wish me luck! (^-^)
Phenomenal news! Back in 2015, our Sarajevo Writers' Workshop collaborated with Atlanta's Narrative Collective on what we named "The Borders Project". I am honoured to have been a part of it. Now, poetry and prose we created during the project is being serialized in EuropeNow Journal! Over the next few months, EuropeNow will be publishing three of our pieces in each issue. The first such installment was out on 6 June with the June issue in which the readers can enjoy Stacy Mattingly's introduction to the project, poem January by Zerina Zahirović, poem Alva Goes to the Neuro-Ophthalmologist by L.s. McKee, as well as my short story, titled Klupko / Tangle.
I wish to sincerely thank Stacy Mattingly for her hard work during and after the project - even now she is working tirelessly on the upcoming installments. Also, a huge thanks to Mirza Purić (also a contributing editor at the journal) for providing top translations to English, to Vanja Čerimagić who provided photographic responses to the pieces, to Council for European Studies (CES), to EuropeNow Journal, Katrine Øgaard Jensen, and Kayla Maiuri for their hard work in helping us publish our pieces in their publication, as well as to the Goat Farm Arts Center where our friends in Narrative Collective are in residence and where we held the amazing Borders reading together last year. This was truly a product of a collaborative effort, as well as a humbling and educational experience.
After four months of hard work, another project has been brought to its completion, and I am so proud of us all. Matea Šimić with her NEMA magazine has brought to life her special brainchild collaboration, titled "Obscure Sorrows" / "Neznane sjete", where several members of Sarajevo Writers' Workshop joined hands once again, this time to be inspired by a term from The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows. Each of us chose our 'sorrow', and wrote a short story or a poem based on it.
The SWW members who participated, besides me, are Nermana Česko, Naida Muratović Avdović, Máire C. Ryan, Neđla Ćemanović, Stacy Mattingly, and Matea Šimić, while the talented artist from Split, Magdalena Modrić, provided her fantastic visual responses to accompany our "sorrows".
Please follow the links for individual pieces. 🙂
My short story is titled "Uzvodno" / "Upstream" and is inspired by the obscure sorrow 'Anchorage', which The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows defines as: "n. the desire to hold on to time as it passes, like trying to keep your grip on a rock in the middle of a river, feeling the weight of the current against your chest while your elders float on downstream, calling over the roar of the rapids, 'Just let go—it’s okay—let go."
My online workshop Fiction Writing Workshop: #Imagination @Creation ∞Life is out 😀 I am happy and proud to have it completed and published. It is now available on Udemy.
I worked hard scripting, researching, filming, and editing, with the goal to share with people as many details as possible - things I've learned while writing my own pieces and working with other authors as well. I wrote my dear Foundation during this workshop as well 😀
More about this on My Workshop page, as well as on Udemy.
Today, my short story Foundation was published in NEMA 😀 This piece is very special to me - I tried many new techniques while writing it, trying to overcome things I was not comfortable with, primarily writing short short stories or flash fiction.
The other reason this story is special is that I wrote it for my first online workshop called Fiction Writing Workshop:#Imagination @Creation ∞Life, now available at Udemy.
What an amazing day! 🙂 Literary journal NEMA had a presentation and promotion at Buybook book shop in Sarajevo. Its founder and editor Matea Šimić shared a few details about the journal itself, its purpose, its goals, and the upcoming plans. After the presentation, four members of Sarajevo Writers' Workshop, Nermana Česko, Naida Avdović, Selma Asotić, and myself, read our work.
SWW's founder Stacy Mattingly and the editor of NEMA's English chapter Máire Ryan also joined via video! We were so happy to have them there with us. It was a special pleasure to hear the pieces by three more authors who joined via audio: Tihana Ledić from Derventa who read her "Verzija" ("Version"), Monika Herceg from Sisak who read "Korelacija" ("Correlation"), and Slaven Posavec from Petrinja with his "Napisat ću knjigu o tebi" ("I'll Write a Book About You").
At the end, given that 19 August is the World Photo Day, NEMA treated the audience with some marvelous photography titled "In Bloom" by Natalija Mihovilić (from Zleć, Hrvatsko zagorje).
For this event, I chose to read my "Glad" / "Hunger" published in NEMA. It's a special story for me, because it was written specifically for NEMA's first edition. For some reason, I felt it relevant to write a completely new piece for that occasion, dedicated to NEMA, carrying my most honest wishes for its success, hoping it would soon be recognised for what it is - a phenomenal platform for artist's voices to be heard loud and clear.
To all of those who came today to learn about NEMA and to hear all of us read our work, thank you from the bottom of this writer's heart. Keep on supporting art. Art for life!
Such great news! We are so thankful for all this support we're getting.
Excellent news! Asymptote Journal published an awe-inspiring essay "The Borders Project Reading: Atlanta’s Narrative Collective + Sarajevo Writers’ Workshop" written by our very own, beyond-talented Stacy Mattingly 🙂
In the piece, Stacy talks about The Borders Projects and tells us readers about the day the Narrative Collective had the Borders Project reading at the Goat Farm, a once-in-a-lifetime event in which we, SWW, participated as well.
It was a true honour working, writing, reading with and learning from our friends in Atlanta, and I am grateful to Stacy for this wonderful piece of writing.
I was in Atlanta! Well, not really – I wasn’t there physically, but it was uber awesome nonetheless. Atlanta’s Narrative Collective gave “The Borders Project” reading at the Goat Farm Arts Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. SWW joined them via video!
I read the beginning of the short story I wrote during the collaboration, “Klupko” (“Tangle”) in Bosnian. The story is translated by the (by now) legendary Mirza Purić. What a fantastic experience to work and read with these people! Thank you eternally, friends.
My friend, SWW colleague and a phenomenal writer, Nermana Česko and I started a new, quite an ambitious project. It’s so exciting! More about this as the project unfolds.
NEMA published an article / report which Nermana Česko and I wrote together after reading at Sarajevo Days of Poetry. The article is called “Dan od poezije u Sarajevu” (“A Day of Poetry in Sarajevo”).
29 October. My Birthday!
But beside being such a great day by itself, SWW participated in 54.Sarajevski dani poezije (Sarajevo Days of Poetry). We read our work with another group of young poets at Dom pisaca (Home of Writers). Still reluctant to share my poetry, I decided to read my published poem “Nondum”. I was also honoured to read “Ručak za duhove” (“A Dinner for Ghosts”) by Matea Šimić and “Jednog oktobarskog jutra” (“Whitesleeves”) by Neđla Ćemanović Porča, because these two friends live abroad and could not attend the reading.
In the first week of October...
...another phenomenal thing happened – we launched The Borders Project: A Literary Collaboration with Atlanta’s Narrative Collective. For a while we discussed having the two collectives work together through and online workshop and it was truly worth it. I enjoyed every single millisecond working with such talented people, reading the products of their minds, and happily savouring every word of feedback they provided on my work.
Asymptote Journal posted an essay on its blog written by our brilliant mentor and friend Stacy Mattingly, titled: “Making Narrative Witness: A Caracas-Sarajevo Collaboration”. Stacy was the writing workshop facilitator and collection editor. In the essay, she talks about our experience and about our project with colleagues in Venezuela.
April & May
SWW continued learning by doing workshops with other groups. This time, we participated in two U.S. Embassy programs, providing creative writing workshops to teachers from around Bosnia and Herzegovina. We were amazed by the interest and the quality of these people’s work, as well as honoured to share our knowledge with them, all the while learning from them. One of the conferences is highlighted here.
SWW was invited by Dr. Julie Bates to give a workshop for students in the MA in Creative Writing at the International University of Sarajevo (IUS). The four of us went there and held a three-hour long workshop for an amazing group of friends. They had sent us their work a couple of weeks before so we could discuss it together in detail. We provided them with honest feedback, wholeheartedly hoping that our thoughts would be helpful in their future work. The IUS has featured this workshop on their website.
Narrative Witness reached its fantastic peak - our work has been showcased by the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program. I published two of my short stories during this exchange: “Child of Stone” and “Among the White Flowers”. I wrote “Child of Stone” first with no intention of writing a second piece. However, I was inspired by truly awesome photos posted during the exchange and decided to submit one more story. I collaborated with two phenomenal Venezuelan artists, Efrén Hernández Arias and Alejandro Cegarra, by using their photos in my “Among the White Flowers”. Please check out the entire Narrative Witness Collection.
Early in 2015
I sent a longer piece to NEMA, titled “O nama: razgovor besmrtnika” ("On Us: Conversation between Immortals"). They published it in two sequels: Part I in January, and Part II in March, 2015. This piece is very special to me. Though it changed quite a bit by the time it got published, it was the first longer, more ‘serious’ story I had written back in 2002 while still in primary school. Originally, it was dialogue only.
In late 2014
I went through a truly humbling experience. I participated in IWP’s first Narrative Witness exchange – A Caracas-Sarajevo Collaboration. SWW started a collaboration with our colleagues, friends and writers in Caracas, Venezuela, along with photographers in both cities. We would post our pieces on a website made to facilitate our online workshop and everybody would provide feedback on it. To have so many people from variety of different backgrounds read and comment on my stories, bring to it a piece of themselves, and show me the way each of them read and understood my work, has been invaluable to me. I am still drawing from this experience.
I published a short story called “Glad" ("Hunger”) in NEMA online journal. This was such a fun piece to write while dwelling into the human psyche and changeability of moral standards depending on the situation. I sent it to Matea Šimić hoping she would like the piece and find it suitable for her journal. I am happy and honoured to say that she did.
I presented and successfully defended my Master’s Thesis, titled “Universal Themes of a ‘Homeless Writer’: Insight into the Human Condition and the Ethical Dimension in the Novels of Kazuo Ishiguro”, and I received my MA in English Language and Literature from the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sarajevo. Though it was an honest pleasure to dive deep and then deeper into the novels of this phenomenal author, I was happy to be officially finished with my studies at the University.
I finished my first year of Japanese language course and received the certificate of attendance. My professor, Ms Yukari Hill, is an amazing person, and I will forever be grateful for the knowledge she gave me, for her patience, guidance, and understanding.
All departments of English Language and Literature, Master’s studies, 5th year, gathered and held a farewell party for its graduates at the Faculty of Philosophy. On the photo: Department of English Literature, generation 2012-2014 🙂 Though we are slowly spreading across the world following the paths we are building in front of our feet, we still find time to meet up.
I was delighted and honoured to learn that my paper “The Other in One: The Otherness in Golding’s Lord of the Flies” was translated to Slovene and republished in the collection “Horizonti drugosti”.
I participated in the International Interdisciplinary Student Conference at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia, where I presented my academic paper “The Other in One: The Otherness in Golding’s Lord of the Flies”. As one of my absolute favourite novels, "Lord of the Flies" was a pleasure to analyse and an honour to talk about with my colleagues at the conference. The paper was published by A Priori, in the collection of academic papers entitled: “It’s Not All Black and White: Perspectives on Otherness”, edited by Nika Škof and Tadej Pirc.
In the latter half of the year
Eight SWW members worked hard on our poetry, making sure it is as perfect as it can humanly get. In November, H.O.W. Journal published our pieces bilingually. They also included an audio of us reading our work. It was a phenomenal opportunity for all of us, and one which we are still grateful for. My poem published in this journal is called “Nondum” – a piece which I honestly worked on for a long time, and the first poem I shared with the readers. Here is me reading my poem.
Truly a memorable day – we held our first performance along with a bluegrass/folk band at the famous and inspiring Sarajevski ratni teatar / Sarajevo War Theatre (SARTR). We read our pieces in Bosnian / Croatian / Serbian, English, and German. The Sarajevo Times reviewed our performance. I read my short story “Ja sam…” (“I am…”) which includes a capella singing. I enjoyed every second of this event. It was a special pleasure to hear wonderful comments from the audience after the performance.
Nermana Česko and I were guests at TVSA’s Dobre Vibracije where we talked about the Workshop, our goals as a collective, and our upcoming performance at SARTR.
SWW gave a reading at a local art café Smoje. This was our first reading together, presenting ourselves to the public as individuals and as a group. I read my short story “The Four Horsemen” and a poem “Ne zastaje se pomirisati behar” (“You Don’t Stop to Smell the Lilac”).
I presented and successfully defended my Bachelors thesis, titled “Human Image in Blake’s Poetry”, and I received my Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature from the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Sarajevo.
Chapter I: 2012
I joined Sarajevo Writers Workshop. This was a momentous event from me. From this moment on, I was able to feel and see my growth as a writer, measure it even. I also started thinking more about polishing my work with the goal of bringing it to the readers, publishing it, and sending it to literary competitions.