nationalityBosnia and Herzegovina
time periodJanuary 2018 - January 2018
Selma Asotić lives in Sarajevo, where she’s trying to write poetry. In between writing poems, she works as a freelance translator and an EFL teacher. Her poems, essays, and translations have appeared in local and international literary journals. She is the co-founder and co-editor of the magazine for feminist theory and art BONA, currently the only feminist magazine in BiH. She is a member of Sarajevo Writers’ Workshop.
San o vodi is conceptualized as a poetry collection that explores the themes of alienation, isolation and the inability to bridge the gap between the self and the world. More specifically, the alienation I wish to explore is closely tied to the feeling of rootedness, of being stuck within mental, bodily, geographical and social boundaries. This rootedness results in the decay of one’s life energy, which is why the manuscript is imbued with a violent restlessness, an unquenchable desire to break free. The poems move between a set of clearly defined, interrelated binary oppositions: movement-stillness and life-death.
The conceptual framework rests on one crucial element: water. Water can be both lifeaffirming and destructive and both of these meanings feature heavily in San o vodi. Within the abovementioned binary oppositions, movement signifies life. Therefore, the constantly changing, dynamic quality of water embodies the life principle and the idea of growth. The spirit of water is invoked in order to harness the power to overcome all things that threaten and undermine one’s freedom. On the other hand, water can also be the harbinger of death, or a peculiar kind of melancholic madness. In San o vodi, the depth of water symbolizes the depth of the mind, and the more one dives into it, the more she loses touch with reality.
On a thematic level, poems in San o vodi deal with trauma, loss and homelessness. Loss does not refer just to the physical death of beloved people, but also to the loss of love, safety and peace. War memories loom large and are retold from the point of view of a generation that does not remember much of the actual violence, but feels its echoes reverberating through every part of life and being. The theme of homelessness refers to the feeling of not belonging, of being expelled to the margins of the world. It does not matter if this exile is self-inflicted or involuntary, it creates a sense of “looking at the world through a key hole” (as one of the poems says). This marginality has both a personal and a universal dimension, since expulsion occurs due to identity characteristics that make a person a stranger in her own home/community/country (being the perennial Other as a woman, a queer person, etc.), as well as the geographical, political and cultural position of her birthplace. On a political level, San o vodi captures the desire to surge into history and become a subject, a participant of events. On a personal level, it gives voice to the unquenchable desire to take the world, all it has to offer, until the hunger for life is satiated.