1) Tell a little about how you became a professional writer. I am not sure that I am a professional writer. Professional writers write commercials. Writing introduced me to rebellion, disappointment, and fear—these the are feelings I have when someone tells me that I am a professional writer or when I watch commercials.
2) What is something you would like people in the USA to know about yourself, Serbia, or Serbian writing? I’d like people in the USA to read my writing. One great writer said that a writer who is smarter than his work is not a smart writer. I would like people to read my work, in good hope that I’m not smarter. About Serbia, I would like people to know that the most educated Serbians are American citizens. Serbian writing doesn’t exist, there only exists good or bad writers.
3) Have you visited the United States? If so, what did you enjoy? If not, what would you like to visit in the USA? Unfortunately, I haven’t. I would like to visit New York. To live in Roman times and not visit Rome . . . is a pity.
4) What are your favorite American writers? You mention Poe in one of your poems (“That Brings Luck”) Hemmingway, W.H. Auden, Hart Crane, Bob Dylan... Poe certainly is one of the greatest. I used references to his work as metaphors for decay and a paradox of victory, which comes out of decay. For example, Rembrandt painted his self-portrait as king on a throne at the moment when all of his children and wife had died and he was totally impoverished. His last picture was Simeon Holder of God. Without Calvary, there’s no immortality.
5) What do you think is unique about the heritage of Serbian literature? Generally, uniqueness is rare. But interestingly, Serbian epic poetry was recited by blind, crippled, and illiterate orators on dusty streets and in markets during the Ottoman rule—this style was greatly admired by European Romantic poets. Before that, literature of the lives of the medieval Serbian rulers relied on the best tradition of the Byzantine stylistics. The story dates back to the 12th century, when we find the first trace of Serbian literacy. The questions is: how much of that is really unique? Remember, the Serbians through the history often had been a part of someone’s cultural commonwealth.
6) What do you think is unique about Serbian literature today? Complete diversity in the styles professional writers and the absence of any cultural circle or similar poetics.
7) Can you recommend some other Serbian writers or artists to familiarize us with Serbian art and writing? Of the current, still living, writers, Dragoslav Mihailović, Svetislav Basara, Marija Jovanović, Marko Vidojković. Painters, Ljuba Popović, Petar Omčikus. Playwright, Dušan Kovačević. Film directors, Miroslav Momčilović, Raša Andrić, Emir Kusturica, Goran Paskaljević.
8) What are some personal life events that have really influenced your writing? Love- Death- Melancholy. Passing of time without events is an event. Sometimes, more personal and deeper things that have happened.
9) What writers have influenced your writing? Joseph Brodsky, Brana Petrović, Miloš Crnjanski, Vito Nikolić.
10) What are some recurring motifs and themes in your writing? You seem to write a lot about the passing of time, unrequited love, and Serbian village living. Childhood, probably. I don’t think about it while I’m writing. I don’t want to give answers, in fact, I’m looking for them through writing.
11) The poem “The First Day” is a stylistic description of a very personal life experience, which encompasses the end of innocence, the lapsing of time, death, and personal struggle. Can you tell us a little about the event that inspired the poem? Actually, it’s just a jumble of episodes which my friend from childhood remembered as the last day of summer vacation, the last moment when our group of friends from our street was together before we grew up. Of course, helped by the fact that her mother did not allow us to enter the house in sneakers.
12) Do you sometimes use your poetry to comment on problems you see in society? For example, is “To Reba” a comment on society or social problems? No. That poem is too personal. It’s an epitaph. Poetry can criticize society only in terms of serious ideological dictatorship. Otherwise, it seems ridiculous and daily-political. Communism was the last big inspiration of 20th century.
13) Is the title of your poem, “White Night” a nod to Dostoevsky? Is “Quietly and Secretly” a nod to Dostoevsky’s “White Nights?” In some way. But, my “White night” is irony of the pitch darkness. On the other hand, “Quietly and secretly” is a nod to “nothing more” in Poe’s “Raven”.
14) Do you think the literary environment in Serbia is encouraging for young writers? Encouraging to stop writing. They do it very actively and systematically.
15) Is it easy to get literature from smaller European countries into the international literary scene? It’s easier to get a literature into the international literary scene, than to successfully circulate it in Serbia. In the international literary scene, talented people recognize each other. In my case, I believe that happened.