I am a Danish, Autistic poet / writer / translator and artist.
Poetry allows me to say a lot with very few words, which is simply beautiful!
I started writing poetry as a self-therapeutic endeavour, which worked wonders through my teenage years. And poetry has followed me till today (my thirties) where it remains my favourite means of communicating how I see the world.
What Does Poetry Mean To Me?
As a teenager, I took up poetry as a means of communication that made up for the fact that nobody spoke to me, and I to nobody. There was a gulf between my way of communicating and that of others. I sought a way to express myself, that would allow me to say all I wanted to say, without losing too much in translation.
That method turned out to be poetry.
Poetry can be convoluted and require you to think. But so is all other forms of communication. The difference is that with poetry, you expect it. And that levels the playing field for me. Quite a lot.
Poetry means the world to me for that reason. It allows me to express myself more freely, exactly because there is structure and constraints. And because my readers approach poetry with an understanding that they need to think about the meaning, rather than make assumptions from the start.
Not to mention the fact that poetry is one of the oldest and most distinguished art forms in the world – but I will spare you an hour-long lecture on that point (for now).
Instead, here’s a bit about my relationship with poetry, and what poetry means to me:
How My Autism Influences My Poetry
First and foremost, poetry matches my way of thinking and communicating quite well. It is distilling complex thoughts and emotions into bite-sized pieces. I try to do this in speech as well, since I struggle with both fragmented speech patterns, echolalia and generally get distracted a lot when attempting to have a conversation.
Another thing that complicates conversations for me is that I make associations and see patterns other people sometimes struggle to follow. But in poetry, that’s fine. In fact, it ties right in.
I also fluctuate between being hyper-focused and having no focus at all. When writing poetry, I can disappear into my art for hours, and distill whatever I have to say at the moment. But if I attempt to write longer pieces, I lose focus and cannot really hold the entire work in my head. That is for instance why I’ve never managed to complete any of the novels I’ve started on over the years.
A poem is easy to structure, bend and manipulate. And short enough to keep in my head in its entirety. That alone takes away a lot of the pressure I have with communicating.
But all these things are new thoughts to me. Because I wasn’t diagnosed (properly) until the age of 25. Until then, I knew all these things without understanding them. I knew I struggled with them without knowing why. And I knew that poetry helped me without really understanding the reason behind it.
It is interesting to look back afterwards, and read all my old poems with this new-found knowledge of myself. I see every poem in a different light now.
And I suddenly understand everything I’ve written on a whole different level.
So let’s examine what poetry did for me before and after I was diagnosed:
Pre-Diagnosis – Journalling and Self-Therapy
I started writing very early on, during English classes in elementary school. English was a medium that allowed me to keep everything at an arm’s length – whereas writing in Danish brought everything too close and made it too personal. So English it was.
I spend a good chunk of my teenage years writing agonized poems about how different and out of place I felt, without knowing why. Because I didn’t know why, I resorted to simply hating myself, and without the outlet of poetry and other forms of artwork, I don’t think I would have made it through.
Poetry was largely self-therapeutic to me back then. And it worked. In a way. It certainly gave me an outlet for all the negative emotions I was feeling. It brought me into contact with others online who felt the same way which made me feel less alone. And it gave me a sense of accomplishment while I failed at most other challenges I tried to take on in life.
I started publishing on this site in 2011, because I wanted my own platform instead of leaving my writing scattered randomly all over the internet. And it gave me something to get out of bed for in the morning, if nothing else. That alone made it priceless.
The quality and quantity of my writing varied greatly. The quantity went up dramatically whenever I was feeling depressed or anxious, and I stopped writing entirely when something positive happened in my life – which fortunately started happening every now and again as I entered my twenties.
The earliest poems were generally terrible – both because I lacked practise, and because I wrote in a foreign language I didn’t fully master yet. But they served their purpose. And over time, things got better. It wasn’t until I felt somewhat confident in what I was producing that this website came into being.
But even then the themes were much the same. Loneliness. Depression. Alienation and isolation. Feeling different and a bit lost in a society I didn’t quite understand. Struggling to connect and communicate. Craving love and connection, but feeling that it came at too high a cost when it did materialise.
This was until I got diagnosed at 25.
Post-Diagnosis – A Journey and Journal of Self-Discovery
Two things changed drastically at this junction. First, I started to understand myself better and therefore gained the ability to structure my time and my work in a way that didn’t lead to anxiety and burnout. And second, I stopped caring what other people thought of me.
I realized that who and what I was, wasn’t something I could easily mould into the shape the rest of society considered “normal”. So I stopped exhausting my energy on failed attempts at conforming to society’s standards, and started simply being myself.
That snowballed into more than I could have imagined. I got married, changed careers, bought property and started investing, my health improved… And unfortunately for my poetry, that meant that I almost stopped writing entirely for a while. Because as long as I saw poetry as largely a therapeutic tool, I didn’t need it when things were going fine.
So I finalized my collection “Light Requires Darkness” when I met my husband. And I wrote “divisive / dismissive / missive” shortly after. And then I basically stopped.
I needed time to think everything through. To process what was happening. And what had happened in the past, now that I better understood it all.
During that process, I re-read all my old poems and allowed myself to grieve for the pain I had felt, and the time I had “lost” on self-hatred and self-doubt. My poems served as a handy journal of my progress over the years. They testified as to how I had felt about myself, and what I had been struggling with at the time. And that proved invaluable information to me.
And now? Well, poetry is no longer taking center stage in my life like it once did. And that is a good thing. I have grown older (and hopefully wiser) and I have other obligations now, that I used to only dream of and think weren’t meant for me.
But that doesn’t mean that I have given it up. I don’t think I ever will.
Poetry was and is my first special interest. I know way too much about it. And I care way too much about it. So much in fact that I have been in fights about it (can you believe that?).
So while I don’t write as much as I used to, it was inevitable that poetry would call me back and demand some more of me.
Now I write when I have something special to share with the world. A particularly beautiful sight in nature. A particularly strong feeling. A particularly interesting association. Moments and thoughts I wish to capture and preserve – and share with all of you guys the way I know best: Through poems.
If you have read this far, I salute you! Well done!
On this website you will find my poems and translations from 2010 onwards. Everything written before then is frankly cringe, and I wouldn’t want the rest of the world to see it. 😂
I hope you’ll get something out of reading through it.
If you have any comments or thoughts on any of my poems, I’d love to hear them – so feel free to write to me through the contact form. Thank you in advance. 💖
Lots of love, K-M