I was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. My family and I took refuge in Croatia, at the start of the war in former Yugoslavia in the early 90s, where I resided until 2007. Ever since I’ve been living in Sydney, Australia with my husband, our nine-year-old daughter and the newest addition to our family, our cavoodle Buzz.
What is the greatest thing about the place you call home?
This question is very hard for me to answer; still. I have had many homes and when a childhood is so abruptly interrupted, one struggles with questions such as this. So if I go by the definition found in various dictionaries of a home being a dwelling place then I suppose that home is in Sydney, Australia. There are many amazing things about Australia, one of them being the diversity of population which reminds me of my birthplace. However, if I think of a home as a place of belonging that’s another pair of shoes altogether. Once you go through being a refugee, I don’t think you ever really feel like you belong anywhere. I lived in Croatia ever since the war and briefly, the UK and I loved it, and I equally love living in Sydney, but do I feel like I belong in any of these places, probably not.
It took me a long time to come to terms with Sarajevo not being my home anymore (in every aspect of the word) so once I finally accepted that, I also accepted the fact that I will always feel a bit like a tourist wherever I am, and let’s be honest, with my thick accent it’s hard not to. Acknowledging these feelings is what helped me move forward. That’s really all you can do because you can’t go back in time. Without making peace with the past, one can never really move on.
At the end of the day, as the proverb says ‘Your home is where your heart is‘ and my heart is with my family.
What turns you on creatively?
I am an amateur photographer and that part of me is the part I always felt comfortable with, since the early days of using my grandpa’s vintage camera with a flash cube. And I never stopped taking photos. Being an observer is how I coped with my reality. Freezing moments in time was always something tangible to hold onto.
On the other hand, the writing as another part of my creative expression doesn’t come as easily. I am always in awe when writers say that writing is like breathing to them. I can go weeks without writing anything and then a word is enough for a light bulb to flicker above my head and the words flow. I suppose anything and anyone can light the spark that would lead to a story or a poem.
I actually started writing in English only two years ago and it has not been without challenges. This is why every single publication means the world to me. I don’t take any of them for granted. Almost all my stories have a piece of me tucked away deep inside. I know I have a long way to go as a writer but this is where I am right now and at the moment I’m content with what I have accomplished thus far. I am however looking forward to new possibilities.
Maybe you should ask me this question in five years’ time, who knows what the response might be. After all, I am still a rookie in this world.
What is your favorite word, and can you use it in a poetic sentence?
As a non-native English speaker, I find the English language fascinating. I think I always will. There seems to be a word for every single occurrence which at times blows my mind away. Having such a wide linguistic range at one’s disposal and being able to express the smallest of intricacies on any subject, well…it makes my heart sing. I don’t have a favourite word per se, but I do have a favourite sentence. Unfortunately, I don’t know whom to credit for it but here it is:
“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” It might sound cheesy but to each their own, right!
What is your pet peeve?
I have three. I can’t stand dishonesty, indifference, and bullying. Ahh, I could talk about this until kingdom come. It comes down to treating others the way you’d like to be treated. Everything else is just noise.
What defines Andrea Damic?
I suppose everything I am and everything I strive to be is in big part defined by experiences I went through at an early age. Those experiences left an indelible mark on my soul and it took me a long time to accept myself as more than a refugee and someone who doesn’t belong. There are events in life so beyond anyone’s control that when they happen in tween years, one’s mind is too young to comprehend them, yet too old to forget so one spends a big part of their existence trying to come to terms with the simplest of truths and in my case it was accepting that what was lost, cannot be un-lost. That’s partially the reason I write.
Let me digress just a tad. I would like to share something with the readers. I went to this exhibition recently in the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney called ‘Atmospheric Memory’. The idea came from Charles Babbage (early 19th century) who was the inventor of the first computer. He suggested that every word ever spoken leaves a permanent trace in the air. He imagined a computer so advanced as to be able to calculate the movements of all air molecules and by rewinding the paths our voices generated – once upon a time – would allow them to be recreated again. As a result, nothing could ever be lost and we would benefit (or not) from hidden truths. The mere fact that this exhibition was based on an idea from 200 years ago, blows me away. Such is the impact of art. It’s here to stay.
What I am trying to say is that I don’t want to lose any more of myself. Leaving something tangible, for posterity if you will, a legacy of sorts, not only for my sense of self but for my daughter as well, is something that’s incessantly on my mind. My daughter is only nine, and one day I hope she gets a glimpse of those slivers of me that are not just Mum. It’s so easy to get lost in the labels. I want her to know that she can be all, and more, no matter what life throws at her.
Andrea Damic, born in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, lives and works in Sydney, Australia. She's an amateur photographer and author of fiction and poetry. She writes at night when everyone is asleep; when she lacks words to express herself, she uses photography to speak for her. Her literary art appears in Spillwords, Door Is A Jar, The Dribble Drabble Review, Five on the Fifth, Roi Fainéant Press, Your Impossible Voice, The Elpis Letters, and elsewhere. She spends many an hour fiddling around with her website 'Words and Art' on WordPress.