“Choose any word from the dictionary and read its definitions. Write a poem using only the language of these definitions. Try repeating them in different combinations and using line break to create unexpected phrases. Experiment with how far you can push the limits of the language you’re working with. Use the word you’ve chosen as the title of the poem.”
I tried the exercise myself with varied results. I tried it with my elementary gifted students. At first I was worried. It took a while for them to even choose a word. My favorite came from a third grader. I’m not sure how much of the original definition became a part of her poem, but I loved her play with language.
People say you’re the fairest of them all.
Of course they say that in fairy tales,
when a fairy comes to help the fair lady.
She’s not that fair.
She is wicked. She is cruel.
The real fairest of them all
comes to help, to defeat
that so-called fair queen.
That’s why they say
you’re only fair
in fairy tales.