Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Power of Photographs to Inspire Writing

If one picture is worth a thousand words, can one picture inspire a thousand words?

Creative Concepts #8 

             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 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. 

Flower Power
         Adjunct Professor of English Laura Pastuszek teaches a course titled Writing and Communications for Teachers. In her nature-related poem “Continuity,” a flower speaks as if it were human. At the same time, the poet identifies with the flower and uses its qualities to express appreciation for her place in the world around her.


I am full of life
as my presence
 fills the air with
Others delight in my beauty
and I am grateful for the
branches that undergird me.
For without them
I would not be
A place of refuge
For others to know
and feel welcomed to
create new life
placing an imprint of the process
on my safe and supple petals.

            Class discussion based on this poem-photo combination can help students think of the elements of nature they might compare themselves to. Then, using personification, some students may choose to write poems in the same style as “Continuity.”  Others may choose to create prose that reflects their relationship with or understanding of nature. Still others may find inspiration in the words of the poet John Greenleaf Whittier: “The continuity of life is never broken; the river flows onward and is lost to our sight.”

Keywords: refuge, life, nature, reproduction

Challenge:  Write a poem or story in which you describe your existence from the point of view of an inanimate object.

Possible Opening Line: You can believe me when I say that the life of a cell phone isn’t an easy one. All day long and even into the night…

                                         Coming Next Week
Can you hear the bells?

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

Exciting, Spine-Tingling, and Difficult, to Put Down

       For a psychological thriller that will keep you turning pages long after everyone else has fallen asleep, don't miss Terror at Mirror Lake.
       Terror lurks in the shadows of Mirror Lake. Secrets of sex, lies, and death are all patiently waiting to surface from its murky depths.
       The small, sleepy town of Hamptonville seems the last place you would find sadistic sex, drugs, blackmail, and murder. But that's exactly what Bruce Orum and his girlfriend Cindy Garvey encounter when they flee from New York City after having killed another girl.
       In Hamptonville they meet Luke Downing, a psychopath who soon uses drugs to control Cindy and make her his sex slave. A cruel, vicious character, Downing showed all the classic symptoms of a cold-blooded killer from the time he was a boy growing up with an imaginary friend who encourages him in his perversions until he became and adult.
       Having dominated Cindy, Downing uses her to seduce two fishermen, Pete Engstrom and Hal Bonnacker, when they visit Mirror Lake, after which he plans to blackmail them. Although Cindy seduces the men, she double crosses Downing, disappears, and the men get away.
       For the next few months Engstrom and Bonnacker express guilt over what happened at the lake. They decide to return to the scene to find Cindy. Sensing a problem, their wives decide to accompany them.
       At Mirror Lake Downing takes the two couples prisoner and plans to torture and humiliate them before killing them. But he does not know that Sheriff Jeff Parker and Molly Hutchison are on his trail and determined to stop him.
       From page one all the way to the breathtaking ending, you will find yourself on pins and needles waiting to see what happens on the next page.
        See sample pages and buy this ebook at 

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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