Writing Poetry from Pictures

To ground the writing of  poetry in observation, and to demonstrate how imagination can arise from the simple art of looking try bringing copies of a picture, or a series of pictures to class and pass them out to students. The pictures need to be complex enough to stimulate observation and be open to various interpretation. Surrealist painting work well. Ask students to look closely at the picture and ‘walk around inside’ for a while.

To provide a viewing lens, you could ask students to:

  • Pretend to be something in the picture

  • Walk into the picture and see what happens

  • Use comparisons to connect elements of the picture with other things

  • Use a poetic form you know already as a launching pad for poetry based on the scene in the picture.

  • Create a dialogue between elements in the picture –animate or inanimate. 
I'm sure you get the picture. If your student poets get the picture, hopefully the words will flow.


  1. This is such an important reminder. I'm sure you saw Mary Lee Hahn's Poetry Month project this April. She used WikiMedia images to inspire poetry: http://readingyear.blogspot.com/2013/04/common-inspiration-uncommon-creations1.html. Then she encouraged others to write from the same media. It was an interesting process to follow.

    Your tips for thinking about creating poetry from images are helpful. I especially liked the reminder to connect elements of the picture with other things.



Post a Comment

Popular With Other Visitors

The Wonder of Wordplay

Launching Your Writing Program With Bold Intent in 2018

Learning How to 'Zoom In' When Writing

Helping Student Writers Find That Vital Spark of Inspiration

The Quest For Independence Among Student Writers