Friday, April 5, 2013

The Power of Photos to Inspire Writing

Words and pictures can work together to communicate more powerfully than either alone.
William Albert Allard
American Photographer

Creative Concepts 4

       What do you do when your brain becomes oatmeal, your fingers become lead, and you watch the cursor on your monitor blink endlessly without moving even one millimeter? Brew another cup of coffee? Vacuum the rugs? Take the dog out for a walk? Pray for inspiration?
            “I wasn’t born to vacuum rugs,” writes Elizabeth Guy, poet, storyteller, and co-author of Reflect and Write.  “That’s why, when my brain turns to stone while I struggle for new ideas, I use photographs for inspiration.”

A New Photo Every Week

            Whether you’re a teacher, a student, an aspiring writer, a professional writer, or a poet, you’ll discover that the photos and ideas posted here during the coming weeks will help you overcome the dreaded “writer’s block,” while at the same time inspiring you to create new and exciting works of prose and poetry.
            Sometimes direct quotations will accompany the photos. At other times, suggested first lines will serve as motivation for writing. Occasionally, specific suggestions will present challenges. From time to time, keywords will stimulate ideas.
            For even more information about using photos to inspire writing, click on these links: and
            Please note: feel free to download the photos for your personal use as inspiration; for use in classrooms or workshops; or, for use in your blog  with credit to Hank Kellner and a link to  For commercial use please contact the author for rates.

 The Guitar Player

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard are sweeter”
–John Keats Ode on a Grecian Urn

     Obviously, you can’t hear the music this street musician is playing. Paradoxically, however, maybe you you can hear it in your mind. Is it folk music? Flamenco? Music to accompany modern lyrics? Perhaps you can “hear” the sound in your mind while you create words that go along with it.
     Keywords:  musical instrument, guitar player, street music, isolated man
     Challenges:Write a poem in which a musical instrument plays an important role. Write a detailed description of the guitar player and his surroundings. Write a composition in which you describe other street musicians you may have seen. Use your imagination to recall a time in your life when you felt isolated from friends and family. Describe your own experiences with a musical instrument.
     If you’re in a workshop or other group setting, exchange papers with your peers and read each other’s work, either aloud or silently. Then write positive comments, questions, and/or suggestions before returning the papers to their authors.
    Possible opening lines: When I was about ten years old, my parents decided that I should take piano lessons. Oh, how I hated to make those weekly trips to visit my teacher, a wizened old man named Mr. Paderewski. Every time I went there, the ancient piano teacher  would wave his baton in time to a metronome while I attempted to master the same scales over and over again.

And Don't Miss...

       English teacher Mara Dukats and writer-photographer Cynthia Staples’ poems “White and White” and “The Absence of Color.” They’re in Part Four of my twelve-part series USING PHOTOS TO INSPIRE WRITING at , as well as Anna J. Small’s writing assignment in "Viewing and Writing about Photos from Around the World"
       Also, read more about Reflect and Write in the SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL

Coming Next Week
Avenger Woman Lives!

Two Books That Will Help to Inspire Writing

         Reflect and Write contains more than 300 poems and photos; keywords; quotations; either “Inspiration” or “Challenge” prompts; a “Themes to Explore” section; a “Twelve Ways to Inspire Your Students” section; a special “Internet Resources” section, and more. This collection will help stimulate discussion that will trigger meaningful writing at many levels.  Includes CD with photos and poems from the book.
       Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photos to Inspire Writing by Hank Kellner and Elizabeth Guy , ISBN 978-1-61821-023-4, Prufrock Press, 2013, 153 pages, $24.95. See more and order at

          Write What You See: 99 Photos to Inspire Writing is a collection of photographs and writing prompts designed to inspire writing. In addition to the many photos and ideas it presents, this collection includes a section that cites “Ten Ways to Use Reflect and Write” as well as a second section titled “How Some Teachers Use Photos to Inspire Writing” An added bonus is a CD with photos and writing prompts.
        Write What You See: 99 Photos to Inspire Writing by Hank Kellner, Prufrock Press, 2009, ISBN 978-1-877673-83-2, 118 pages, includes CD, $24.95.  See more and order at

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