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Transom:
In your poem, senses and sense both get troubled, and that "certain troubling" begets apparitions -- vision and epiphany. Murky perception is fruitful perception. Bearing that in mind, what sort of clarity do you strive for in your poems?

Hershman:
I write poems because I am in love with first moments. The fun, for me, is inventing a new version of the world using only mental transport and intuition for guidance. The less I know beforehand the better. So it is hard to say what sort of clarity I strive for in a poem, since I don't often begin with anything as translatable as an intention.

Sometimes the poems come more or less as transcriptions of monologues I recite as I make them up. “There is No Lake” happened this way—it came from a place of incantatory strangeness and curiosity. Basically, when I write I just “go to have a look.” I have no idea what I'll find when I do, and many times the result is not a finished (or finishable, for that matter) poem. I had no idea that I'd find my mother in the lake or that she'd turn into the kind of bird she did. Poems are just what happen when I'm lucky.

So if my poems seem to have a peculiar clarity (or lack thereof) I think it has not so much to do with any conscious manipulation of language as it has to do with a perceptual disposition that I try to hone. I value in my seeing many of the qualities associated with clarity: directness, precision, and economy of observation—these are what I strive for. But I generally find it too much a contrivance to try and guarantee any of these qualities after-the-fact. I'm not a very good editor. The syntax and diction I use come tacitly with the experience and the deliberate aspects of my poems are generally limited to stanza and line breaks and the removal of material that seems extraneous. So I guess what I strive for really, is a disposition of perceptual readiness.