“You are so traumatized that you almost think you can’t go on living.” Aidt’s son Carl died in 2015 from a “bad trip” induced by psychedelic mushrooms, which made him psychotic and ultimately caused him to jump out of a window on the 5th floor. For a long time, Aidt was so grief-stricken that she was unable to neither read nor write: “I became so aggressive from reading. I flung books to the floor. You’re enraged in your grief.” After a while, she started reading bereavement literature – feeling that this was the only thing that seemed meaningful – and nine months after Carl’s death, this form of literature slowly pushed her towards writing again: “The few words that I started to write nine months later were like small rafts that I could hold onto.” She knew that she had to write about what had happened, otherwise she would never be able to write anything again: “I didn’t want this story to haunt me into my future writing activities.” It was also important for her that the book reflected the raw grief that she was in the middle of: “I had to write something that contained this imperfection, that was shattered and pointed in a lot of directions.”
With the loss of her child, Aidt lost the ability to imagine the future, even two hours ahead, making it impossible to plan anything in this “non-time” she was stuck in: “It becomes a question of survival from moment to moment.” Because she felt that she had fallen out of time, writing the book in a sense also became a way for her to re-conquer time by looking through her diaries and finding everything she had ever written about her son.
In the video, Aidt talks about her book ‘Har døden taget noget fra dig så giv det tilbage’ (When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back: Carl’s Book) (2017). The title of the book is also the title of a poem that Aidt wrote with her son in mind when he was a teenager, and which she read at his funeral: “Death takes from us, but what the dead gave us we have to give back. We have to pass it on. It has to pass on as a kind of beauty that you share with the living.”
Naja Marie Aidt (b. 1963) is a Danish poet and writer. She made her debut in 1991 with the poetry collection ‘Så længe jeg er ung’ (1991). Since then she has published 25 books in various genres. Among them are ‘Baboon’ (2006, Eng. translation 2014), ‘Poesibog’ (2008), ‘Rock, Paper Scissors’ (2012, Eng. translation 2015), and ‘When Death Takes Something From You Give It Back: Carl’s Book’ (2017). Aidt is the recipient of multiple prestigious awards such as The Nordic Council Literature Prize (2008). She has lived in New York City since 2008.
Naja Marie Aidt was interviewed by Synne Rifbjerg in August 2017 in connection with the Louisiana Literature festival in Denmark.
Camera: Anders Lindved and Rasmus Quistgaard
Edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Produced by: Christian Lund
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017
Supported by Nordea-fonden