Thursday, April 11, 2013

Reflect and Write: 300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing, by Elizabeth Guy and Hank Kellner

Reflect and Write:
300 Poems and Photographs to Inspire Writing
Authors: Elizabeth Guy and Hank Kellner
Editor: Sean Redmond
Publisher: Prufrock Press
Publication Date: February 1, 2013
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It has been a while since I taught poetry, but when I did I often made use of art, photography and quotations to act as writing prompts. So I appreciate the compilation of poetry, photography, quotations and questions in this book.

The photos are well-chosen, helping to elucidate the themes of the accompanying poem and spark students’ imaginations. (The image of three nuns watching a “Spirit Cruises” ship next to a poem about longing to travel made me smile.) Each poem also includes key words that students can discuss as well as questions about the theme, or ideas for writing assignments. I particularly like the quotations from famous people on each page because they often offer a wryly dissenting opinion from the poem. (A particularly peppy poem entitled “I Love a Parade” is followed by the Ulysses S. Grant quote, “The one thing I never want to see again is a military parade.”)

There were, however, some things I wish the authors had included but didn’t. There are no author bios for any of the authors of the poems (except Elizabeth Guy and Hank Kellner). There is a symbol indicating if the poem was written by a student or not, but that is the only information we are given. As a reader, I like to have at least basic information about a poet that may help me understand the context in which they write. And as a teacher I like to have that information to share with the class or as a prompt for further research.

Speaking of missing information, the introduction mentions that part of the proceeds of the book will go to the Wounded Warrior Project. What, no website? No two-line blurb about the charity? I want to know more!

Alas, these are things that will have to wait for the second edition.

On a positive note, I did love that the authors included a section on internet resources for teachers, including websites to help students get published. They even included a Canadian site (!

My partner Mike, who teaches junior high (middle school) English and Social Studies, said that he often finds poetry a difficult subject to teach, so he likes to have a variety of resources available. He especially likes that he could pull this book off the shelf and have hundreds of poetry lesson prompts at his fingertips. (See? It’s insight like that that is the reason I always ask his opinion when I’m reviewing books for teachers!)

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for writing a review, though the review did not necessarily need to be favourable, just honest. I frequently read and review books for this reason, but I am always very truthful (and, I hope, fair) in my reviews. Therefore any opinions expressed are strictly my own.

You May Also Like:
52 Weeks, 52 Love Poems
The True Secret of Writing
Differentiating Instruction
 with Menus for the
Inclusive Classroom:
Language Arts Grades 6-8

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