When asked to write a definition for one of our words, I wrote one, erased it, and wrote another better one. Easy peesy. “Delve into the specific words you picked. Why?” (to paraphrase because my memory is not that good). Ha, I already did that too. I started to feel pretty confident and smug about this activity.
“Consider your line breaks” Line breaks? What line breaks? Was this supposed to be a poem? Suddenly, the five words I had written next to my word did not look so good. Maybe it was a nice definition (although not very scholarly), but it was not a poem. I did not write a poem …even though I was in a poetry class. It had not even occurred to me that it should have been a poem. When I hear “definition”, I think of dictionary.com, not poetry. This was a mini mind-opening experience. Why can’t a definition be poetry? In a way, a poem could be (but is not always) the definition to the title. What does the title mean? Read the poem to find out. Its almost the same as looking at the definition under a word in the dictionary.
Unfortunately, my creativity was not fast enough to transform the small definition I had written into a more intentional poem in the few minutes left of the activity, but even without the words written yet, I feel that my knowledge and experience with poetry has already grown. You could say my definition of poetry has expanded.