June 23, 2024
A&E

University alum Milica Mijatović: Using poetry to make sense of our world and ourselves

“I love when I read a poem and I feel something I haven’t felt in a really long time, or I feel something I’ve never felt, or I feel something I feel every day,” said university alumna and poet Milica Mijatović.

To Mijatović, poetry is lifeblood; an essential aspect of creative expression. “I think it makes us feel less alone on a very basic and simple level,” she said of her earliest, and still foremost thoughts on the importance of poetry. 

Mijatović graduated from the university in 2018 with a degree in creative writing. She later received her master’s of fine arts degree in poetry at Boston University in 2020. 

Since graduating, Mijatović has been able to support her writing career through her position at Mailchimp, an email marketing company based out of Atlanta under Intuit. 

“Several of my colleagues are published poets, some of them are in bands. So it’s really cool how so many of us have different passions in life,” Mijatović said. 

Her day job and genuine passion coexist without having to sacrifice one for the other, and really, that’s what Mijatović is great at. Her work, art, and life all balance very different ideas, places, and people in order to create something that represents her.

“I think a reason a lot of us became content designers is because content design is kind of like this really cool discipline where you can be creative and strategic, as well as financially independent,” she said.

From March to August of 2021, Mijatović was an associate poetry editor for “Poets Reading the News,” an online journal that combines geopolitical events with poetry.

“Exploring news–whether tragic, disheartening, or hopeful–through poetry is genius in my opinion. It allows us to process what’s happening and react to it in a way that’s constructive and empowering,” she wrote on her website

As a Serbian immigrant born in Brčko (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Mijatović and her family left the country in the years following the end of the Yugoslav conflicts in the late 1990s. While she spent the school year in Akron, she would return to Brčko to visit family during her summers. 

Much of Mijatović’s poetry is reflective of themes of family and love, but also of a post-war homeland and feelings of displacement. She views poetry as a form of both personal reconciliation, as well as a way to share a human side of conflict. 

“I think war needs to be talked about,” she said. “When we’re in school we learn the cause and effect, the events, the key players, which are very important. But what it leaves out, is the consequence of war.”

In a note on her poem, “War, Dream,” published in the poetry journal “Collateral,” Mijatović writes, “In a lot of ways, I feel I’ve inherited war.” Though, in many ways, “we all inherit war,” Mijatović said.

Regarding her work with “Poets Reading the News,” she said, “All of the stuff that we were publishing and working on publishing dealt with war and geopolitical violence, and that’s really heavy. But one poem we published for example, was fully about laughing. It’s a funny poem. So I think it’s important to remember that it’s all about human experience, as we need to treat it as such.” 

To Mijatović, that’s what poetry is all about: human experience. Beauty and tenderness found in the darkest times of human existence. 

“When we think of war, we think of soldiers fighting, hunger, no electricity, etc. But there are also huge moments during war that are filled with laughter and family and home. People coming together and living, you know, you still have to live,” she said. 

In her poem “Oj Golube, Moj Golube,” Mijatović sets the scene of a birth in a wartorn hospital, a mother speaking to her elder child: “I asked if anyone died. She said not everyone.”

Milica Mijatović’s professional life continues to flourish. She recently had her first poetry chapbook published in May 2023, and hopes to have a collection of her work published soon. 

More than anything, Mijatović continues to be passionate and to strive to make changes where she can, when she can. 

“Poetry is everywhere,” she said, “If I write a poem, and just one person reads it and says, ‘Oh wow, I feel that too,’ or recognizes some part of themselves, I think that’s a big way we can connect as human beings and relate to each other.”
Mijatović’s work can be accessed through her website, milicamijatovic.com, and her new chapbook, “War Food,” is available to purchase on munsterlit.ie.

Author

  • Megan Mitchell

    Megan is a second-year English Literature and History major. She is a Smooth Transitions mentor, an editor for ReCap, a student archives assistant at Blackmore Library, and a member of Film Club. In her free time she enjoys reading and watching movies.

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