Sonja Yelich is a poet. Her early poetry featured in AUP Poets 2 (2002) and her first collection, Clung (Auckland University Press, 2004), won the 2005 NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry. She has published poems in journals, e-zines, anthologies and Best New Zealand Poems 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008. Yelich has won competitions, and her second collection of poetry, get some (AUP, 2008) was a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards.
Place of residence: Auckland, New Zealand
Yelich, Sonja (1965 - ) was born in Auckland, New Zealand, of a Dalmatian immigrant family. She grew up in Mount Albert and was educated in Auckland. She is a trained teacher with a university background in literature.
Her early poetry featured in AUP Poets 2 (2002) and her first collection of poems, Clung (Auckland University Press, 2004), won the 2005 NZSA Jessie Mackay Award for Best First Book of Poetry. The Bay of Plenty Times writes, ‘Clung confirms Yelich’s considerable talent. Her poems celebrate a world of small things, linking it to the larger world outside.’ David Eggleton writes in the NZ Listener, ‘Subversion is in her nature, from her slightly skew-whiff take on English (her background is Dalmatian) to an anarchic ability to play with the new technology like toys (for which, one suspects, she also gives thanks to her lateral-thinking children).’
Her poems have appeared regularly in journals both in print and online including e-zines Turbine, Trout and Snorkel, and her poems have featured in Best New Zealand Poems 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008. One of her poems won the 2003 National Radio Montana Poetry Day competition, judged by Elizabeth Smither. She was also anthologized in the book-and-CD set New New Zealand Poets in Performance (AUP, July 2008).
Yelich’s second collection of poetry, get some (AUP, 2008) was a finalist in the Montana New Zealand Book Awards. get some follows an American marine, Edgar, serving in Iraq, and the responses of his family back home to his tour of ‘doody’. Yelich vividly contrasts his life with his family’s, and serves up a whirlwind of perspectives on the war and contemporary American life from The Sopranos to Black Hawk Down, YouTube to SUVs. The narrative of Edgar and his family begins to fragment through the book as the horror of war deepens - a marine loses a leg and a plane ‘breaks its nose on / Poor visibility in summer’. Yelich, highlighting the confusion of war, leaves the reader guessing as to Edgar’s eventual fate.
In 2010 she was one of two people holding Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowships. She has used the opportunity to work on a novel and a new poetry collection.
Last Updated: 6 July 2010
• Sonja Yelich in Best New Zealand Poems 2002
• Sonja Yelich in Best New Zealand Poems 2005
• Sonja Yelich in Best New Zealand Poems 2004
• Sonja Yelich in Best New Zealand Poems 2008
• Sonja Yelich on Aotearoa NZ Sounds Archive
• Sonja Yelich in Snorkel
• Sonja Yelich in Turbine 04
• Sonja Yelich in Sport