The Power of Photos and Other Images to Inspire Writing – Part 3By Hank Kellner
When that happens, some people vacuum their rugs, make fresh pots of coffee, yearn for the class session or workshop to end, bite their fingernails, or distract themselves with hundreds of other diversions.
Look to the Masters
That’s not true for Elizabeth Guy. A storyteller, poet, and the co-editor of Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing, Guy sometimes uses paintings by the masters to trigger ideas for her work.
“I wasn’t born to vacuum rugs,” she reports. “That’s why I use the Internet to find paintings by the masters to give me ideas. Doing so is like dipping into the mother lode of inspiration and writing prompts.”
In the following two poems, Guy used Monet’s paintings, Impression Sunrise and The Magpie as her inspiration. One can only wonder how the artist would have responded had he known that two of his paintings would become the inspiration for two poems some 140 years after his brushes kissed the canvas.
Short and sweet
Succinct, concise, and pithy
And yet, and yet
So lingering in the mind
Evocative of mists and lifting fogs
A gradual clarity
Lifting veils of unsubstantial weight
Doubts swept away on ebbing tides
Revealing crystal visions
Reflections on a Winter Painting
I saw a winter painting and I smiled.
Then once again my brother lived.
Tall and strong, he pulled the sled
When I was just a little child.
Trees black laced against
An orange smear of sunset.
The evening star a diamond in the dusk.
Below, the crunch of snow beneath the runners.
Toes numb in buckled boots.
Frozen misted breath, and mittens caked with ice.
Riding like a princess across a frozen tundra.
Home at last!
Stomping. Laughing, pulling off our coats,
Breathing in the kitchen’s fragrant warmth.
Fingers tingling underneath the tap.
Winter memories of my brother.
Rest in peace my childhood knight,
And angels guard your soul.
Now the rising pearl of moon
Casts its ghostly pale
Upon my withered lawn.
Frost lies everywhere—
Like fairy dust turned cold.
A Bonanza for Teachers
Reflections on a Winter’s Painting originally appeared in Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing by Hank Kellner and Elizabeth Guy (Prufrock Press, 2013). See sample pages, reviews, and buy now at http://www.prufrock.com/Reflect-and-Write-P1752.aspx. (Insert Reflect and Write cover)
Part 4 in this series here
About the author
A veteran of the Korean War, Hank Kellner is a retired educator who has served as an English Department chairperson at the high school level and an adjunct Associate Professor of English at the community college level. Born in New York City, Kellner now lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Visit his blog at hank-englisheducation.blogspot.com.
Kellner is the creator of many photographs and articles that appeared in publications nationwide; the author of extensive reading comprehension materials for a publisher of educational materials, and a former contributing editor to Darkroom Photography magazine. He is the author of Write What You See: 99 Photos To Inspire Writing (Prufrock Press, 2009) and, with Elizabeth Guy, the co-author of Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing (Prufrock Press, 2013).