Harry Wong
Dec 2017
Vol 14 No 4

The Power of Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing – Part 11

By Hank Kellner

One good way to inspire students to create written compositions is to discuss several works that are related by such themes as happiness, love, beauty, and others. For example, the poem-photo combinations that follow in this article are based on the theme of humor.

One possible activity is to divide a class or other group into several smaller groups and distribute photocopies of a few different pages from the book Reflect and Write to each group. Direct the participants to exchange ideas about the themes of the poems, and have them develop a list. Next, ask the participants to develop their own works based on the themes they have cited. As a follow-up activity, participants may share their creations with others by reading them aloud.

Can You Hear Me Now?

A Salesman from Greer Salesman Photo

There once was a salesman from Greer

Who drove with his phone to his ear.

While he talked he was struck

By an oncoming truck

Thus ending his call and career.

In The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan wrote: “Fate is shaped half by expectation, half by inattention.” Although this poem is written in a humorous manner, the topic is quite serious. Why not challenge students or workshop participants to write about a serious topic in a humorous fashion?

The Return of the Cookie Monster

“The three-year-old who lies about taking a cookie really isn’t a liar after all.

He simply can’t control his impulses”     – Cathy Rindner Templesman

Not Me! Not Me Photo

You think I stole the cookies?

You think I climbed onto the


Reached for the cookie jar,

And took it down?

You think I ate the cookies?

That one by one I broke them in


Chewed them up, and swallowed


While no one was looking?

You don’t believe me when I say,

“My sister stole the cookies

 And ate them

And didn’t even share with me”?

How could that be?

Why can’t you see

It had to be my sister?

And not me!

After reading and discussing “Not Me!” students and other writers will respond enthusiastically to such questions as: “Has one of your siblings ever accused you of something you didn’t do,” and “If so, has that person ever reported you to your parents?” As a follow-up activity, they may write poems or compositions in which they discuss the event humorously.

Pumpkins Aren’t Just for Thanksgiving 

The Pumpkin Sonnet

(With Apologies to Shakespeare) Pumpkin Photo

Some say that cherries are the best to eat,

And some prefer potatoes that are fried,

But I think cherries are by far too sweet,

And fried potatoes I just can’t abide.

Then there are those who claim zucchini’s best

And those who like tomatoes as a treat.

But I don’t think zucchinis pass the test

And ’maters aren’t the best I think to eat.

Still others do prefer a plate of peas

Or plantains fried and salted to their taste.

But peas my palate surely do not please

And plantains I discard with timely haste.

So, pumpkins are the ones that catch my eye

Because I like to eat them in a pie.

Using 14 lines of 10 syllables each and a set rhyme scheme, this playful poem tackles a whimsical subject in the rigid, formal structure of a Shakespearean sonnet. After discussing the meter, rhyme scheme, and quatrains in  the sonnet, students may choose to write their own humorous sonnets based on subjects of their choice.


A Salesman from Greer by Betty Bowman, Not Me! By Brian Guido and The Pumpkin Sonnet by Cole Kim 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 and buy now at Photographs by the author.

About the author


 FRONT COVER kellner book XA 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

 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)



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This entry was posted on Sunday, September 1st, 2013 and is filed under *ISSUES, Hank Kellner, September 2013. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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