Gavin Brings Simple, Natural Poetry to SMSU


Katie Stromme

Gavin read with restraint and personality.

Katie Stromme, Head Copy Editor

It is not difficult to hear how Larry Gavin’s experience as a nonfiction writer has informed his poetry. His stark, understated prose reflect his fifteen years as the senior editor for Midwest Fly Fishing Magazine, for which he writes regularly on issues of entomology, conservation, and travel.
Gavin was the last writer of the year to visit Southwest Minnesota State University as part of the Visiting Writers Series. He is a graduate of SMSU’s Literature and Creative Writing program, and Secondary Education program.
He read selections both old and new before an audience of students, faculty, and community members on Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m. in Charter Hall room 217.
Gavin has published three books of poetry with Red Dragonfly Press, the first of which, “Necessities,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2005. His second collection, “Least Resistance,” was nominated for a Minnesota Book Award in 2007. He also edits a haiku postcard magazine called “Tumbling Crane,” which is dedicated to English haikus.
Currently a high school English teacher living in Faribault, Minn., Gavin writes in a style which is unapologetically Midwestern. Straightforward and unassuming, his words illustrate the strange splendor of badgers, bee-keeping, and the digging of post holes.
An affable and engaging speaker, Gavin instructed the audience, at the beginning of his reading, to please turn on their cell phones. “I’m a high school teacher,” he said. “If I don’t hear at least one phone go off while I’m talking, it won’t feel right.”
The personal anecdotes which punctuated Gavin’s reading provided background to his poems and his creative process: he is not the type of writer who pulls pedantic subject matter from the mysterious ether. His inspiration is wholly natural and authentic.
“I have an uncommon number of duck poems, fishing poems, and teaching poems,” he declared. During his time as a student at SMSU, poetry was Gavin’s primary focus, and he reflects fondly on the time at the University.
He says he has been a poet since the sixth grade. He met the editor of Midwest Fly Fishing by chance in 1994, and was attracted to the opportunity to work there because it would allow him to combine his passion for language with a practical look at the natural world. He also writes a weekly column for Minnesota Outdoor News. “It keeps you in shape, coming up with something new every week,” he said.
Gavin has an exceptional eye for found poems, which he unearths from such unromantic locations as supermarket bulletin boards, police reports, and dive bars.
He read one of his favorites to conclude the evening: “Will do babysitting in my home/but would rather haul rock.”