Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Poetry Is Alive and Well in the Classroom

         I've been delighted by the responses I've received to my call for poems by students and teachers. Reflections (working title) will be a unique anthology because it will feature poems accompanied by photographs. This powerful combination of written words and graphic images never fails to stimulate viewers' imaginations.         
        Teachers will find that Reflections will help to trigger lively class discussions that can lead to interesting writing assignments. If you would like more information about Reflections, please contact me at hankpix(at)yahoo(dot)com with the word "Guidelines" in the subject line.        
         Here's one of the poems I received for this project. Its author is Kym Sheehan, Secondary Literacy Specialist, Port Charlotte Public Schools, Port Charlotte, Florida. Kim is also the creator of the accompanying image. I added the quotation.

"I stood on the bridge at midnight/As the clocks were striking the hour."                                                Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  

The Bridge

We named it The Singing Bridge.
Its small expanse connected and divided us.
It spanned the creek
That led to the marina and to sleepy coastal towns.
It's been silver, gray, and green.
Today its layers of paint are speckled with rust.
The rivets that hold it together
Are surrounded by starbursts of burnt sienna.

Oh, but it still sings!
When we drive across the fine-tuned 
Metal floor, it serenades us.
As we bounce, it hums louder and louder.
Then SMACK! We hit the pavement.
Once across the bridge,
A quick left and we park by the docks.
The odor of brackish water fills our nostrils.
We ignore the "Live Lobsters"  sign
And trudge down the bank to the water's edge.

High tide--no boat traffic.
Water glistens on top; but a closer look
Reveals only darkness below.
A soft wind pushes the water
To meet the underside of the bridge
As it sings while travelers
Drive to and fro to make the music.

Photo Essays Tell Stories        

In a review of Write What You See in VOICES OF YOUTH ADVOCATE, Joyce Doyle wrote "Possibly the most helpful feature is a special section in the back of the book where high school and college teachers share how they have helped to inspire creative writing through the use of photos."
        Here's an example that tells how you can use photo essays to trigger your students' imaginations.      “Photo essays tell stories with pictures in ways that words cannot,” writes Kathy Miller, a teacher consultant at the Prairie Lands Writing Project. In one of her photo-related writing exercises, Miller directs her students at West Platte High School, Weston, Missouri to select three photo essays from the Internet, study them, and analyze them in terms of written responses to such questions as (1) Do the photos in the essays stand alone? (2) How much narration supports the photos? (3) How does the narration complement or support the photos? (4) What are your responses to the essays? In another exercise, Miller uses Brian Lanker’s I Dream a World as a source of photos of African-American women. “I direct students to select a photo, study it, and relate how the woman in the photo they chose is like them or different from them,” she concludes.

More about Write What You See 

         Hank Kellner is the author of Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing. Published by Cottonwood Press, Write What You See includes a supplementary CD with photos.
         Here's what Valerie A. Reimers, Professor of English, Southwestern Okalhoma State University said about  Write What You See. "This delightful collection of photographs and accompanying writing prompts offers a smorgasbord for imagination and critical thinking."
        Write What You See is available at the publisher, at bookstores and on the Internet at Ask your school or local librarian to order it.          

No comments: