How does a writer choose the words to use in a poem?

That's an excellent question, although I am afraid that it isn't the same for everyone. In general, a poet tries to choose words that express a feeling or a thought *exactly*. For instance, if I were imagining a time when I was lost and didn't know how to get home, I might write something like this: I was lost but I wasn't just lost. there were probably other things going on, right? Where was I when I got lost? ... I was out in the woods. How did I feel? I was scared. So I would change it a little: Among the trees alone, scared unable to find my way Now people understand a little bit about where I was. But it still doesn't quite sound like a good poem yet... Maybe because i need to add some detail. So, how did the trees feel to me? What am I scared OF? Alone among the trees No one will find me Before dark Or maybe Darkness will find me Alone among the trees See how I change the wording around so that I don't use as many words... I'm trying to say what I felt at that time exactly, without using any extra words, and using the exact words that I want. Sometimes you have to write something over again quite a few times before it starts working the way you want it to. My poem still isn't finished, because I want to add some things like... how else was I feeling? Did I have any hope? How did I find my way home? ... and more and more things that I could add. But, for now, it is a good start. You can always take a good start and keep working on it and changing it until it becomes a whole poem.