The organizers of the First International Queer Death Studies Conference: "Death Matters, Queer(ing) Mourning, Attuning to Transitions" asked me to read my poem, "Survivor of the Toxic Womb," at the reception for the publication of the 2019 special issue on Queer Death Studies in Women, Gender and Research (Kvinder, køn og forskning). The organizers edited the special issue and were therefore familiar with my poem, which appears in a shorter, fragmented version in my journal article, "Mourning My Mother: An Exploration of the Complex Emotions Elicited by the Terminal Illness of an Estranged Parent" (published October 15, 2019), which appears in the special issue. At the reception, I read the poem, which I originally wrote for a Danish slam poem competition in 2016, in full. For the article (and the poetry reading), I translated the poem from Danish to English. In the poem, I explore my own childhood memories of the parental neglect my mother subjected me to. I speak to my mother directly and tell her things I could never say to her face. I therefore invite audiences to share with me and enter into an intimate and vulnerable space. The poem is littered with abject images of my mother, and I refer to various smells I associate with my childhood (cigarette smoke, warm beer) to help audiences sense the poem. I also make use of body horror and pop cultural references (for instance to the American horror movie Alien from 1979). The poem mixes sarcasm, sadness, and horror and presents to audiences topics that are often considered taboo. The mixture of humor, horror, and tragedy is intended to disarm audiences and also reflects how survivors of abuse often turn to humor as a survival strategy.
Period5 Nov 2019
Event titleReception for the publication of the special issue on Queer Death Studies in Women, Gender and Research (Kvinder, køn og forskning)
Event typeOther
LocationKarlstad, Sweden
Degree of RecognitionInternational


  • Poetry
  • Parental Neglect
  • Alcoholism
  • Family Estrangement
  • Poem
  • Motherhood
  • Mother and Daughter Relationships
  • Estrangement
  • Mourning
  • Autophenomenography
  • Writing
  • Body Horror
  • Abjection
  • Horror
  • Death
  • Death Studies
  • Queer Death Studies
  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Women, Gender and Research
  • Kvinder, køn og forskning
  • Gender Studies
  • Taboo