Saturday, September 11, 2010

A Brief but Powerful Poem

The Absence of Color

Does sadness have a color?
Muted blue perhaps tinged with gray.
White layered throughout like Morbier cheese?
No! Black is beautiful,
As are gold, brown, and green.
They indicate life.
Sadness equals absence
of light and color and warmth.
Arctic white, then, yes.
That's the color of sadness.
                    Cynthia Staples

        Thank you, Cynthia, for submitting "The Absence of Color" for inclusion in my upcoming anthology, Reflections. Either alone or in company with the accompanying photo, this poem offers almost endless possibilities for discussion that will inspire students to express themselves in writing.
        Here are just a few examples of questions that will challenge students. (1) What responses  does the question in the first line of the poem trigger? (2) What does the poet imply when she writes that white is the color of sadness? (3) Is it possible for emotions to be expressed as colors? If so, what are those emotions? (4) What feelings do you experience after reading the poem? (5) Herman Melville, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Stephen Crane, William Shakespeare, and many other authors have used color imagery extensively in their writings. Discuss the use of color imagery in a work by any author of your choice. (6) Write a character description or other brief work in which you use color imagery. (7) Other than sadness, what emotions could the color white trigger?
        Cynthia Staples is a writer/photographer based in Massachusetts. To see more of her work, visit

Work on Reflections Continues
        Once again I'd like to thank everyone who submitted work for possible inclusion in my upcoming anthology of poems and photographs by students, teachers, and others. If you would like to receive guidelines for submission, please contact me at hankpix(at)yahoo(dot)com. I'm especially interested in receiving poems and/or photos by students of any age. I'll be reading submissions until the end of October, but I'd appreciate those that arrive before then.
        Because Reflections will contain more than one hundred poems, I'm interested in receiving as many submissions as possible from which to choose. Luckily, a few of my colleagues have offered to help me make the final decisions.

Write What You See

 Write What You See by Hank Kellner (Cottonwood Press, 2009) is a collection of photographs and writing prompts for the classroom. Written by a successful photographer and former teacher of English, this book presents 99 black and white photographs accompanied by a wide variety of writing prompts to motivate students. The author gives his own suggestions for using photography in the classroom and also shares ideas from real teachers across the country who have successfully used photography in the teaching of writing. Includes a CD-Rom. $24.95. Available from the publisher, at bookstores everywhere, and on the Internet.

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