Monday, December 3, 2012

known and unknown, intensity, surprise, and disorder

I think I’m allergic to fixed ritual, when it comes to poetry—writing, for me, both needs and constellates big doses of freedom. I do have one habit: somewhere along the way, I developed a liking for writing on the back of torn-in-half sheets of already-used paper. There’s always a little stack by the bed. Even before that, it was always loose paper, not notebooks. My one requirement for writing has always been solitude, and I think it is somehow connected to a sense of privacy from childhood. I've always wanted the freedom to throw things away. A notebook feels to me like a little society, not a scattering of hermits. For me, it’s too self-aware of its own formal purpose, like a graveyard: a good place for the finished, not for conception. This feeling about notebooks is also somehow a metonym for my whole relationship to the act of writing. Creativity comes from some mixture of known and unknown, intensity, surprise, and disorder. The disorderliness makes the intensity permeable to the surprise.

~ Jane Hirshfield
 from Attention, Solitude, and First Books: 
Jane Hirshfield in Conversation