Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Guest Blog by Hank Kellner

Beyond the Window

I cannot see beyond the curtain

That cloaks my window.

But if I could, what would I see?

A field of wheat? A city street?

A cloudless sky? Cars rushing by?

I cannot see beyond the curtain

That cloaks my window

Unless I push aside the flimsy cloth

And look beyond the glass.

-by Elizabeth Guybo

Do you remember a book titled Reflections on a Gift of Watermelon Pickle? First published in 1966, it featured a collection of black and white photos accompanied by poems. Almost immediately, Reflections became popular with teachers of English who found that they could use the photos in the book as a source of inspiration for their high school and junior high school students. Incidentally, the book went through many printings and is still available on the Internet.

Today, many teachers still use photos to encourage not only teenagers, but also adults to create both poetry and prose. Shown here is a poem written by a senior citizen at a workshop I conducted at the Center for Creative Retirement, University of North Carolina, Asheville. Does the photo inspire you? What do you see in the combination of light and shadows? What is the mood of the photo? What might you discover if you could “…see beyond the curtain”?

If you find inspiration in this photo, and if it helps you write either a poem or a paragraph, I’d love to hear from you at

By the way, you’ll find more of my photos posted at Photobucket. Feel free to browse. And do visit my blog at English Education for even more photos and inspiration. Finally, go to the National Writing Project at National Writing Project to read more about using photographs to inspire writing.

Hank Kellner is a Korean War veteran and the author of Write What You See: 99 Photos to Inspire Writing 120p. w/CD. photos. reprods. Web sites. Cottonwood Press, 2009. pap. $24.95. ISBN 978-1-877673-83-2. LC 2008938630. His series of articles on using photos to inspire writing appears at Creativity Portal.

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