1. Tell us something hardly anyone knows about you.
I worked as a fashion and advertising photographer in the era of ‘big hair’, when men had perms and wore pastel-coloured shirts. Back then, I was passionate about producing exciting images, although I did hope to someday work as an advertising copywriter.
2. What is your nickname?
I don’t have a nickname but I am often called Ziggy – so often that I don’t notice anymore.
3. What is your greatest fear?
The fear I experienced when teaching my children parallel parking.
4. Describe your writing style in 10 words.
Consistency of rhythm and rhyme, traditional in form, unconventional in content.
5. Tell us five positive words that describe you as a writer.
Irreverent, humorous, non-mainstream, fussy/fastidious (in a positive way, I hope!)
6. What book character would you be, and why?
Jack Reacher, or some similar kickass hero-who-doesn’t-play-by-the-rules (ie the opposite of me), at least for a while. It would be cathartic (especially for a lawyer)!
7. If you could time travel, what year would you go to and why?
I missed out on being a peacenik hippy in the late 60s, the counter-culture, music, Woodstock, bellbottom jeans. Also, I would so love to see the original Broadway musical Hair, so I guess 1968.
8. What would your 10-year-old self say to you now?
My 10-year old self would probably say to me: “What happened? How did you get so old?” I would then give 10-year-old-me some advice about not eating too much sugar or letting shyness and a lack of confidence hold him back.
9. Who is your greatest influence?
Two Leonard Cohens: first, my father – his unrestrained humour, integrity and kindness inspire me; and, that other Leonard Cohen – the singer and poet, for his creative talent and powerful, economical use of words. Poetry-wise – Ogden Nash, with his madly original poetic style, has influenced me to maybe be adventurous and break some rhythm rules in the future.
10. What made you start writing?
I did a course in creative writing at uni. One assignment was to write a ballad, and so I wrote my first humorous poem: The Phantom Orthodontist, about an orthodontist who strangles his bride with dental floss on their wedding night (she had poor dental hygiene). It was not exactly kid-friendly, but fun to write, and it led to me write some PG-rated kid-friendly stuff like My Dead Bunny and other morbid
attempts at humour.
11. What is your favourite word and why?
The word ‘koeksister’ (as in ‘would you like a koeksister?’) Ask any South African. For some reason when I hear that word I start drooling like Pavlov’s dog.
12. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be?
The Collected Works of George Bernard Shaw. There’s a lot in it (4643 pages) and it would help me while away the years and work upon becoming an articulate man of words (one of my ambitions).
Sigi Cohen writes rhyming picture book stories for kids who don’t mind grime, slime, brain-eating schoolteachers (the zombie kind), and school bullies with scary secrets. His book titles include My Dead Bunny, Filthy Fergal, There’s Something Weird About Lena, Zombie Schoolteachers, The Vampires Next Door and Imogen Baddley.
August 23, 2022 at 12:47AM Penny Harrison