Emina, writer and yoga teacher

Your story in ten lines

When describing oneself, the family is mentioned (my mother is Italian and my father is from Mostar), work (journalist, lecturer, yoga teacher, writer), and books, but all this already is to be found on my website www.eminacevrovukovic.eu. To describe myself truthfully I’d have to talk about my loves because the way I am I owe for a good 50% to them, had I met different loves I’d be otherwise. Only the arts manage, at times, to tell loves, for this reason each one remains mysterious to the others and to itself. How will I change at the next meeting with a love?

Writing and yoga: two absolute practices in your life. Always been this way? 

Yoga came late into my life, unexpectedly, it changed me in many ways, for example it made me able to appreciate to a greater degree differences in opinion, life styles, and personalities. It moved the center of gravity from the head to the heart. Writing, on the other hand, always my absolute love, as a reader, as a writer. In this case I’ve carried on being ferociously discriminating, I harbor strong passions and repulsions. I can’t take mannerisms; I like text with a classical structure, irreproachable, a well-defined musical rhythm and a subject matter that enlightens. I’m a very demanding reader; I’m a writer who rewrites a lot.

Travelling is a constant: how many cities have you gone through, do have you a small vivid recollection for each one of them which resumes the experiences you’ve had there? Which one, you feel most yours, even after many years? 

I don’t consider myself a traveler, or better said I’m a resident traveler, I like to stay in places, create small daily routines, find my café to look at people passing by, go shopping at the market, live a place as a person from the area. The rhythm of footsteps in Venice, the fresh water from the Neretva in contrast to the blinding sun in Mostar, the cafes of Sarajevo, the terraces in Rome, the nocturnal deviations in Paris, the light in Cartagena, the people, the friends in New York, the windy skies of London, the magic of Mompos nurtured by the Magdalena, the immeasurability of Bahia, the raves of Ibiza made me richer, happier. I described my relation to places in A fior di Pelle, set between London, Milan, New York, Cartagena, Ibiza. Where do I feel at home? Wherever there is a garden to take care of. Saudade? Towards London a lot. Where do I want to go? Cuba, for a historical research.

What has society given to you and what have you given to her? (considering you have a single definition for society)? 

I walk without fear of a missile falling on my head, a soldier raping me, not having enough to eat or a no shelter. I may study, work, travel and love. Considering the way the world is, that’s no small feat, it’s a lot, it’s huge. Every day I’m aware of this fortune which isn’t a merit. Nine hundred and twenty million people don’t have enough to eat, more than 51 million people (official numbers UNHCR) have been forced to leave their homes becoming refugees and those numbers are bound to rise, there’re no figures on the number of women deprived of the freedom to make decisions about their own lives but they’re an ocean of suffering that renews itself each day. Having had a father who survived the Nazi concentration camps, cousins forced to immigrate to Norway to escape ethnic cleansing in Bosnia I can’t forget and don’t want to forget even for a day those who suffer. My commitment is inclined towards creating awareness of the ties existing between our way of life and the wars and famine in the world. What are the politics of the energy supplier we use? Or those of a multinationals from whom we might end up buying a drink or a piece of furniture? Our daily choices have something to do with war, violence, poverty, and hunger more than we may think. This is all that I try to get across to the students of product design from Naba thanks to the support of the course director Vered Zaykovsky.

With Lunedì Sostenibili, your intelligent network of participated green ecology, over time you’ve created new awareness and relationships. How did you come up with the idea and where do you find the energy to carry it forward? 

Lunedì sostenibili are my way of taking part in the city life, my form of voluntary work. Totally no-profit www.lunedisostenibili.org, they’re an evening in Milan once a month dedicated to green activities and sociability, a Monday evening where associations and people who deal with sustainable green planning can meet each other, present themselves, illustrate their own projects, eventually search for synergies and among friends, have a good drink or a herbal tea. Out of the exchange of opinions, connections, information, sprouts up an interlace of projects and enthusiasm towards a communal dream: greener and livable cities, having the biodiversity, balance and flexibility of natural ecosystems, multicultural cities, with agricultural parks, clean energy, bio-architecture, vegetable roof gardens, cities where you can find anew the contact with the cyclic nature of life and its pace: the flowering period, the ripening one, the one for picking. The flourishing and calm veggie garden interval. They’re a pretty tiring engagement for me, but it allows me the opportunity to meet fantastic people. I live this like a moment of friendship, of bestowal, of smiles. It satisfies my urge for hosting, receiving.

The music and the book with you at the moment 

I’ve emerged from a total immersion into Alice Monroe, I reread in English most of her books, out of laziness I listen to music in streaming Soma fm, especially the Sonic universe and Grove salad channels, they really go down well as musical background while I work.

A favorite dish and drink 

I adore farinata (chickpea flour pancake)prepared by the bread makers in Sarzana and the “nettare”, this is what we’ve named the smoothie I prepare in Ibiza with black grapes picked from the field, water melon and ginger.

Your next editorial projects 

I have two books to place, these days within the publishing world it’s not easy, a novel set in London and a research project on food involving yoga and sustainability, I have a project in Ibiza, to carry out with some ecologist friends of mine, it has something to do with love, and the caring for plants.

Something beautiful that has happened to you recently 

Listening to the Afro-Cuban trio Omar Sosa at the Piccolo Teatro Grassi in Milan: Pure energy, never saw anyone dance while playing the piano, it was moving and even embarrassing, like observing two people making love when watching the dialogue charged with smiles and daring between Omar and his drum player Ernesto Simpson.

Translation by Paolo Witte

A note (October 2016):

Emina Cevro Vukovic published her new book on food, Doppiamente Buono (ISBN 9788862984706, Morellini editore) and Consigli per viandanti giardinieri (Ediciclo editore, ISBN 978-88-6549-324-3, with Nora Bertolotti)

Emina is also the author of three interviews – three stunning stories she found interesting to discover: Alessandro Musto, writer from Turin (IT); Alberto Pellegatta, journalist and poet, from Barcelona and Milan; Filippo Parodi, poet and writer from Milan (IT)

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