Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Power of Photographs to Inspire Writing # 9

Every Photograph Tells a Story

Creative Concepts # 9

             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.

         Bell, thou soundest solemnly,/When, on Sabbath morning,/ Fields deserted lie!
                                                     Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

         Student writer Christiana Pontier’s  poem “Still the Bells” begins with a question, asks several more questions, and concludes with a final question. Is it possible to answer these questions? What might the bells represent? Why is the poet so concerned with them? The answers to these and other questions will provide inspiration for many different kinds of writing.

     Still the Bells 

Why do your bells ring?
Why do they ringle and jingle?
Jingle and jangle?
Why do they ring?
Is there no hand to stop them?
Is there not a hand
   escorted by the sun’s valiant rays,
   reaching out to still them?
To stop them?
To stop them altogether?
To still them

Keywords: bells, alarm, sunlight, disturbance

Challenge: Write two or more paragraphs in which you describe the ringing of a bell from the point of view of at least two different people.

Possible Opening Lines:
    As a student sitting in class waiting for the bell, sometimes I feel that a minute can seem like an hour. For example, …
    On the other hand, as teacher, I’ve found that the bell that signals the end of class sometimes seems to ring too soon. I remember one time when…

Coming Next Week

Finding Your Muse

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

New Book Presents Recollections 
of a Boy's Childhood 
During World War II

Growing up in the fictional town of Meadowview, young Willie Watson objects to being required to play the part of an orange in the school play when he is nine and in the fourth grade. But that's just the beginning of his problems. As he continues through elementary school, Willie has to deal with the town bully; Christmas with his relatives; the death of a schoolmate; the loss of his girlfriend; the theft of a fountain pen; his broken eyeglasses, and much more.
Included in this book are such chapters as "There Is No Santa Claus," "Oh Captain, My Captain," "The Dog in the Rhinestone Collar," "A Bird's Just a Bird," and "Hey Brucie, Your Sister Wears Long Underwear."
Readers will enjoy these humorous and often touching descriptions of a young boy's experiences as he grows up in a small town many years ago. See sample pages and buy this eBook at

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

       For an adult 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 
in the Classroom

         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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