Why did this piece of art resonate for you or seem like it would give you an avenue into writing about Japan’s earthquake and tsunami?
Poet Susan Cohen: I found “Children at Play” wildly imaginative, yet so strange and disturbing. When I made myself address it, that sense of being disturbed turned into a deep grief. I had a nephew who died a few years ago at sea and whose body later washed ashore, so I’m especially haunted by the idea of children in the waves. As I wrote, I realized I was hearing sounds of bicycles and surf and kids playing before supper, that the visual image had a strong aural effect on me. Was that triggered by the incongruous bird perched on the bicycle? I don’t know, but I found myself wanting to intone or chant, which made this poem very different from those I usually write.
What do you think is the role of art in regards to real-world, real-time events? In other words, what makes a “successful” occasional or political piece of writing or art?
Poet Susan Cohen: Real-world events disappear so quickly and completely from the news. Perhaps art contains the capacity to focus our attention at least a little longer.