Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Poetry from Photos

  A Watermelon and Poetry?
      When it was first published during the 1960s, Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon by Stephen Dunning, Edward Lueders, and Hugh Smith became so popular that it was reprinted time and time again for many years. It's out of print now, but you can still find it at used book dealers on the Internet.
       The book presented a series of black and white photographs accompanied by poems written by well known and not-so-well-known poets. Although it was created primarily for an adult audience, Reflections quickly found its way into classrooms after teachers discovered that they could use the photos to inspire student writing.
        The two photos shown here (click to enlarge)  didn't come from  Reflections. The tulip is the work of  Florida-based writer-photographer Sheila Finkelstein. You can see more of Sheila's work at  www.photographyandtransformation.com. Scroll down to "Categories" where you'll discover a listing of other photos, as well as a goldmine of ideas. While you're there, sign up for Sheila's free Ezine,  Picture To Ponder.

  Two Flowers and a Poem

        It's easy to see that, either singly or as a pair, these photos can trigger numerous ideas that could inspire many forms of creative writing. Here's an example of a poem my friend Joe Kato wrote after he viewed the  photos.

                Two Flowers

                     Two Flowers grew
                  In a corner of my garden.
                  Nearby, weeds waited
                  For the flowers to wilt and die.
                  "Go away," whispered the flowers.
                  "Soon you will die! 
                                                       But we will live forever."
Teach Specific Skills
        Of course, you can use photos, either singly or in pairs, for more than just inspiring poems. For example, if you want to teach specific skills, you could use these two photos (or others that are similar) to emphasize contrast  in the writing process. After discussing the differences between the photos, students can choose either objects,  people, or places to discuss in their writing.
        Please visit the archives in this blog to discover many more photos and ideas you can use to inspire writing in the classroom. And for even more ideas and information buy my book, Write What You See at  http://www.amazon.com/Write-What-You-See-Inspire/dp/1877673838/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236107340&sr=1-1


1 comment:

Sheila Finkelstein said...

Thank you so much for including my photograph in your post and for your kind words.

I LOVE your magnolia photo. I wanted to jump in and explore it. Looking at it reminded me also of an exercise I do in my Through and From the Lens Telecourses, where I have participants put themselves, proportionately-sized, into a photo and explore, in writing, the feelings of all the surfaces and spaces.

Then in looking at the two flowers here, my tulips, your magnolia, I was struck by a few contrasts (per one of the themes you mention in your post) - the contrast between the openness of the magnolia and the closed, protected feeling projected by the tulips.

I then considered the contrast in the sizes of the enlargements, so I did a larger version - see Purple Tulip to see the almost, same-size contrast.

I'll refrain from further commenting, leaving that contrast a blank slate for your visitors.

Thanks again.