04 June 2012

craft tip monday 6/4: entering the poetic “jungle”

For the month of June, we will be entering the "lost jungle" of writing. But before launching into the prompts and concepts that will help us engage that jungle landscape, it’s important to define what exactly the terrain is that we’ll be wandering into.

Entering the "lost jungle" of writing
(image: "Tropical Jungle" by LayHwa Chew)

“the lost jungle”

One of the questions I get asked the most frequently in regards to this blog is where the name “Our Lost Jungle” came from. The answer to that is twofold:
  1. The name came from a poem, and
  2. the poem came from a concept.
A few years ago I wrote a poem titled “What we kept of our lost jungle.” The poem explores the way imagination works, how ideas grow and evolve until they take over and, sometimes, overwhelm us. It begins with “grasses [dangling] from our windows” and by the end we’ve gone from physical things to manifestations of daydreams that “walk and wander, / Roaming the woodlands we moved outside.”

This is the same journey I think we, as poets and writers, must open ourselves to when we approach our writing. Rather than viewing writing as a paved road from here to there, we ought to think of it as a jungle through which we must navigate, but only on that jungle’s terms. The jungle is the place where we allow ourselves to freely roam in writing, to let the writing guide us instead of us guiding the writing.

“any way the wind blows”

We have almost all heard the song “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen. (If you haven’t, you can listen to it here.) At both the beginning and the end of the song, the lyric “any way the wind blows” is sung; at the beginning, the band sings:

Because I’m easy come, easy go
Little high, little low
Any way the wind blows, doesn’t really matter to me
To me

I urge you, just for the month of June as we wander into the territory of the lost jungle and writing freedom, to take on this same mentality. Don’t rely on your wisdom: this month, let’s give in to whimsy. Prepare yourself not to work on your writing, but to play with your writing. Enter the jungle, and see where it leads you. It will be dirty. It will be messy. This quest may not be easy. But like any quest into any mysterious jungle … it will be worthwhile.

Your turn: What do you think of when you hear the phrase “the lost jungle” in regards to writing? Where is your “lost jungle” when it comes to your writing? How can you let go of sense and give in to play?


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Check out these previous Craft Tip Monday posts on Our Lost Jungle:


  1. I think of my lost jungle as the unchartered territories of my imagination and memory. It's the place where I push back all the stories that demand my attention, but I'm not ready to write just yet. But perhaps it's time to put on my Indiana Jones hat, grab my bolo, hack away the fears and go get the treasure.

    1. You know, as I was writing this post Indiana Jones was pretty much *all* I could think about ... I think I'm just going to have to cave in and watch the movies now : -)

      I love you definition of your lost jungle. I love the idea that it is uncharted, but we know what's in there ... which is just like Dr. Jones' crusades, isn't it?

  2. I know "something" is there. It's all in the adventure, right?
    I'm looking forward to June's prompts to help me find my lost jungle.


Thank you so much for your comments! Please feel free to share your thoughts here; I look forward to engaging in conversation with you!

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