hosts: Firdaus Parvez & Kala Ramesh
A Thursday Feature.
poet of the month: Gavin Austin
9th November 2023
Gavin Austin lives in Sydney, Australia. His work has been widely published in anthologies and journals, and he has been recognised in literary competitions. In 2016, Gavin was awarded a Writing Fellow of the FAW NSW Inc., and was the Featured Poet in the January 2016 issue of cattails. Also, he was the Poet in Focus 57, Presence #72, March 2022. The Drifting Sands Special Feature, Girt by Sea was Gavin’s undertaking; a partnership of his photography and poetry from Australian writers. He currently has two published poetry collections: Shadow Play, Dragonwick, Aus., and changing light, Alba Publishing, UK. Gavin was shortlisted for a Touchstone Award 2022 for Individual Poem. He is currently completing a collection of haibun and haiku, which he hopes to publish late 2023. You can find Gavin in The Poet’s Hub Gavin Austin – Drifting Sands Haibun – Poet's Hub (drifting-sands-haibun.org)
We asked Gavin some questions and he has been kind in answering them.
3: What is your writing process?
As an idea strikes, I quickly jot it down. I have pencils and paper everywhere, as I am well aware that a thought or idea can quickly be lost. Thinking I will remember a particular idea is not trustworthy enough.
From the scribbled notes I sit and wait for something to spark from my written ideas. I allow the thoughts and feelings to evolve through my pencil and pad. I am careful to never edit at this point, as I know it will stifle creativity. I let whatever comes to mind percolate and flow, and get it down onto paper.
After going through my scrawl, I sit at my laptop and start to shape the writing into something that might make some sort of sense, and the piece begins to take shape. This is usually where the haiku ideas spin-off from the prose. It is then a matter of editing the text to distil the writing into a concise work. This can take many edits. I then put the writing aside and let the work sit. It is amazing what you spot with fresh eyes, after giving the work some space. It is then time for a final polish. Is there a better word or expression? Have I captured the right tone and meaning? This is my favourite part of the writing process.
As we unfold the art of Gavin Austen's haibun, here's what we have for you today!
In India, we are gifted with maids. Let's see what Gavin has to say about the woman who helped his mother and who took care of him.
I am three or four; she minds me Friday afternoons, while my mother shops. She smiles and winks as we share homemade jam tarts from the cookie jar; hot chocolate with marshmallows in huge white mugs.
Picking flowers in her garden, she sings to me, her voice soft and warm like one of her hugs. She tells me I am the favourite.
sail a shaft of light
her floral chair
Now I sit alone at the table that seated eight. Soldiers, brides and babies look from cluttered walls, frozen smiles in ornate frames; family displayed as trophies. The mantle-clock measures out time.
Stillness smothers me. I stand and cross the floor to open a window, allow the gentle breeze to part the curtains. Beyond lace, I look out onto the colours of spring.
in a pottery vase
she fills the room
Published Drifting Sands #13, January 2022
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Important: Since we're swamped with submissions, and our editors are only human, mistakes can happen. Please, please, remember to put your name, followed by your country, below each poem, even after revisions. It helps our editors; they won't have to type it in, saving them from potential typos. Thanks a ton!
Share a haibun about a maid, a cook or a gardener with whom you had interacted in your childhood days.
What about life now, do you manage without any outside help?
And, of course, haibun outside this prompt can also be posted!
1. Only two haibun per poet per prompt. Please put your name and country of residence under your poem, it makes the editors' work easier. Thanks.
2. Share your best-polished pieces.
3. Please do not post something in a hurry or something you have just written.
Let it simmer for a while.
4. When poets give suggestions and if you agree to them - post your final edited version on top of your original version.
5. Don't forget to give feedback on others' poems.
We are delighted to open the comment thread for you to share your unpublished haibun (within 300 words) to be considered for inclusion in the haikuKATHA monthly journal.