Between the river banks or on the prairie or in the classroom, his words tumble out in lyrical rhythm to speak of the water, the ducks, the sky —or life.
Faribault poet, teacher and fisherman Larry Gavin, 57, is grounded in, and inspired by, Minnesota’s varied landscapes, among them, particularly, its western prairies and the forests and streams of the southeast.
Larry Gavin might seem quite alone while knee-deep in a southeast Minnesota stream, casting to trout, while squinting into the low sun over a duck marsh on a November morning, or while arriving early at the Faribault high school where he teaches English and writing.
Or while appearing, as he will today, at Tom Helgeson’s Great Waters Fly Fishing Expo at the National Sports Center in Blaine.
But accompanying him always is Larry Gavin the poet, the smile or nod beneath his ball cap a mask for the open floodgate of words that tumble endlessly within, awaiting order.
Which sooner or later some of the words will be given, perhaps when Gavin rises early one morning before school to write, or perhaps in the evening after he bank walks the Cannon River not far from his home.
It’s then that Gavin the fisherman, hunter, teacher, also husband, father, former small-town policeman, bicycle rider and, perhaps fundamentally — Minnesotan — casts the tumbling words in rhyme, rhythm and meter; the poet’s work.
Let it be the moment
before stepping into the water to fish.
Flies lined up in a box like
days on a calendar. A cigar
still unlit waiting: cows,
the definition of bliss, graze along
the far bank like those things
in life we hope to never forget.
Born in Austin, along the Iowa border, Gavin, who grew up on the outskirts of that town, knew early on he would be a writer.
Not just any writer, but a poet.
“I wrote all the time in high school,’’ he said. “Austin was a great place to grow up. Where we lived, we had a creek that flowed into East Side Lake, then into the Cedar River, which flows through Austin and down into Iowa. It was there that I fished smallmouth, northerns and carp.
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