A Moment with Jane Hirshfield
Originality can be hunted. Concentration's deep attentiveness; permeability to accident; persistence; curiosity; a wide vocabulary of outer and inner worlds––these are just a few of the ways. Playfulness and rebelliousness help. Intelligence and seriousness help. Passion. The courage of independence. A knowledge of tradition, perversely, helps.
Originality lies at the crossroads, at the point where world and self open to each other in transparence in the night rain. There, plenitude of being comes and goes. Originality summons originality: a work of art that contains the mind of freedom will call forth freedom in others. But originality also asks presence––the willingness to inhabit ourselves amid the uncertain transports and sufferings that are our fate. To feel, and to question feeling; to know, and to agree to wander utterly lost in the dark, where every journey of the soul starts over.
-from Jane Hirshfield, "The Question of Originality," Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (Harper Collins, 1997), pp. 50-51