26 February 1965
Vic O'Connor (husband)
Yelich was born in 1965 into an immigrant family from Dalmatia in Auckland, New Zealand. She studied literature at the University of Auckland and became a trained teacher. Yelich's early poetry was included in AUP Poets 2 (2002). Her first collection of poems, Clung (Auckland University Press, 2004), won the 2005 Jessie Mackay Award for 'Best First Book of Poetry' at the New Zealand Book Awards. Her poems were chosen for the Best New Zealand Poems series in 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008. She was also included in New New Zealand Poets in Performance (AUP, July 2008), a book that was released with an accompanying CD.
Yelich’s second collection of poetry, Get Some (AUP, 2008) was a finalist in the New Zealand Post Book Awards. Get Some focuses on an American marine named "Edgar" who is serving in Iraq.
In 2010 Yelich received a Buddle Findlay Sargeson Fellowship that allowed her to write full-time in residence at the Sargeson Centre. The Centre is adjacent to the University of Auckland and recipients receive an annual stipend of NZ$40,000.
In June 2014, Sonja became engaged to her longtime partner, Vic O'Connor, and they married on 6 May 2017. Later the same year, she joined Lorde at the 2017 BBMAs.