Recommended for advanced middle school and up.
At the Dodge Poetry Festival, Joy Harjo talked about the difference between everyday language ("Please pass the salt") and sacred langauge. That got me thinking about everyday language. Is it really that ordinary?
This is a listening exercise as much as it is for writing. Plan to spend one day walking around with a notepad or tape recorder. Keep a record -- best you can -- of the words you say and the words you hear. You might make two columns: "everyday words," "surprising/sacred words."
Poets -- you can go all Dr. Seuss (Cat in the Hat) and write a poem using only the words in your columns or on your tape.
Fiction writers -- this is an exercise in dialogue. Did someone use a word that surprised you because it was out of character? Did he/she say a word that no one else you know would use?
My surprise today (now that Harjo tuned my ears to everyday/sacred words) -- my 8-year-old daughter used the word "vortex." As in, "That black cloud up ahead is like a vortex pulling us in."