Faribault poet and angler Larry Gavin finds inspiration in the outdoors

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 25, 2013 - 9:51 AM

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.

Photo: Dennis Anderson danderson@startribune.com ,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

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.

  • related content

  • A sampling of poems from Larry Gavin

    Saturday March 23, 2013

    A sampling of poems from Larry Gavin:BEFORE STEPPING“The words stop but the meaning keeps going on.” BashoLet it be the...

  • Just Outside Aberdeen, South Dakota

    In my mind, I track ducks

    In astonishing numbers as they circle a marsh

    North of town. mallards, ring-necks, canvas backs,

    Teal - they circle and spin in great dark orbits

    Searching the cattails for safe passage.

    And the wind, like a creature from the north,

    Fuels their need to land, or failing that,

    Continue south all night and out of state.

    Round bales stretch to the horizon

    Like monuments from some ancient

    Civilization that, no doubt, worshipped


    In my mind, evening is coming on.

    The dog whimpers in the cold. She senses

    The urge to migrate too an urge that’s

    New to her today, an urge to wander

    the countryside, to go feral, to desert me

    to fend for herself, take her chances

    with the landscape, fight her way through it

    and float upward until she becomes an idea.

    We are not alone here on the edge of thought

    We are doubled. Like sky in marsh water,

    Like duck bellies on the surface of the sky,

    And in my mind, one mallard tail feather,

    Curly as a northern low, drifts to the water

    Like a pendulum, back and forth,

    Back and forth, until it lands - floating here

    Buoyant as hope in the face of loss.


    Blue bills pile up

    on Tim’s slough

    and the weather man,

    more lost than normal,

    says: rain, sunshine, snow.

    But we know, the dog and I,

    that city weather does not apply here

    in cattails under a darkening sky.

    We know too

    that these ducks have flown so far

    ahead of this wind

    they feel they own it,

    and by association

    own the open water,

    a kind of unmanageable daughter,

    needing there attention

    so they land

    ending the way they began.

    Behind them snow starts

    delicately at first

    a portent

    a sign

    a drifting, lacy reminder

    that supper is cooking

    and that these days


    always arrives

    faster than light.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

Click here to send us your hunting or fishing photos – and to see what others are showing off from around the region.


Tennessee 13 FINAL
Jacksonville 21
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
New York 97 FINAL
Chicago 103
New Orleans 99 FINAL
Houston 90
Milwaukee 108 FINAL
Sacramento 107
Oklahoma City 109 FINAL
Golden State 114
Florida 2 FINAL(SO)
Philadelphia 1
Colorado 0 FINAL(OT)
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 1 FINAL
Carolina 4
Washington 5 FINAL(OT)
Columbus 4
Anaheim 2 FINAL
Montreal 1
St. Louis 4 FINAL
Los Angeles 6
Edmonton 3 FINAL
San Jose 4
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 59 FINAL
Canisius 60
Temple 82 FINAL
Delaware 62
Long Island 69
Lehigh 65 FINAL
Quinnipiac 80
South Alabama 54 FINAL
Richmond 65
Seton Hall 89 FINAL
South Florida 69
Ga Southern 76 FINAL
Stetson 67
Yale 57 FINAL
Vermont 56
Cleveland State 54 FINAL
Virginia 70
Wright State 69 FINAL
Western Carolina 56
Nicholls 54 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 79
Morgan State 48 FINAL
Rider 62
Idaho State 72 FINAL
South Dakota St 75
Oakland City 52 FINAL
Austin Peay 76
Eureka 38 FINAL
Bradley 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Charlotte 75
Connecticut 56 FINAL
Duke 66
Southern Miss 46 FINAL
Jackson State 66
Coastal Carolina 68 FINAL
Ole Miss 71
Montana State 53 FINAL
South Dakota 55
UAB 70
Ohio 69 FINAL
Evansville 81
CS-Dominguez 50 FINAL
Cal State Fullerton 72
Walla Walla 39 FINAL
Idaho 86
DePaul 59 FINAL
Oregon State 90
Nevada 65 FINAL
Pacific 69
Portland State 40 FINAL
San Francisco 77
CS-Bakersfield 56 FINAL
Utah State 57
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 78 FINAL
Howard 48
Southern Miss 66 FINAL
Ole Miss 68
Rider 67
Miami-Florida 74 FINAL
St Mary-KS 51 FINAL
South Dakota 115
William & Mary 71 FINAL
Wofford 51
Troy 82 FINAL
Evansville 94
Loyola Marymount 54 FINAL
USC 96
St Francis-PA 52 FINAL
Duquesne 92
Indiana-Southeast 45 FINAL
Delaware State 52 FINAL
Detroit 74
Tenn Temple 48 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 68
West Virginia St 58 FINAL
Radford 52
Fairfield 47 FINAL
Seton Hall 79
Dartmouth 44 FINAL
New Hampshire 60
Ball State 47 FINAL
Pittsburgh 59
Jacksonville 61 FINAL
Tennessee St 64
Trine 45 FINAL
Western Mich 81
Tenn Tech 53 FINAL
Lipscomb 72
Samford 56 FINAL
Tulane 57
New Orleans 55 FINAL
Tulsa 78
Incarnate Word 61 FINAL
TX-Pan American 65
Ark-Little Rock 42 FINAL
South Dakota St 67
CS-Northridge 77 FINAL
Northern Ariz 71
Santa Clara 88 FINAL
Oregon 92
(19) Oklahoma St 55 FINAL
Weber State 49
Washington 69 FINAL
San Diego State 48
Cal Poly 68 FINAL
New Mexico 84
(10) Louisville 65 FINAL
Grand Canyon 51
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Should the lake where the albino muskie was caught remain a mystery?

Weekly Question