Sam's recently published poetry book, ‘It Was The Night,' fell into my hands at the perfect time. It's a piece of art that I believe in and I'm truly honoured to be stocking it through Mabel.
Being in Sam’s presence is both effortless and inspiring —and no question is out of bounds. He encourages vulnerability and this carries through into his work.
When someone is willing to be vulnerable, it demonstrates courage, and to me, this is the boldest act of a true artist. Vulnerability is the foundation for open and nonjudgmental connection. It allows us to be honest with ourselves and it helps us tap into our common humanity. 'It Was The Night' embodies this.
Our conversations are important to me and constantly challenge my view of the world, just like his poetry. For this reason, I'm so thrilled to share this interview.
You can (and you should) get a copy of 'It Was The Night' while it's still available. Click here to shop.
What was your relationship to art growing up?
It probably wasn’t until I was a teenager that art, in general, became something that I even noticed. My dad would paint regularly, mainly colourful and abstract landscapes, though I never really thought much about it. He was also actively into music and listened to a wide range of genres which I would say was the opening up of that world to me.
High school was where I was exposed to punk and metal in more nuanced ways and realised that there were alternatives to mainstream culture and that maybe I wasn’t so weird for not being obsessed with cars, sports and pop music.
I went headfirst into this opening of a new world once I discovered the “darker” side of art and sub-cultures that welcomed people being “different,” as opposed to shunning them. This became a catalyst for me playing in bands and going to see as many bands in these subcultures as I could.
Over the last 15 years since this discovery, there's been a constant exploration and discovery of art in general, as well as my own artistic evolution. Punk music lead to hardcore music, lead to ambient and drone, which lead to film, literature, painting etc.
You lived in Paris for a little while. Tell me about that experience.
I had never been to Europe before but had always looked to places like Paris and Berlin as being cultural hubs of the world and held them in high regard. Feeling like I was living in the wrong country for too long lead to me taking the leap to trying out life in Paris. It’s a hard experience to summarise briefly but it absolutely changed me. Paris is a beautiful city, rich with history but is also rich with its problems. Perhaps it was naive of me to go there with such blind optimism but it was a fast way to learn.
It’s a wonderful experience living within such artistically significant areas like Montmartre or working a short walk from the Louvre and even more-so is having these places just become normal surroundings and noticing them less the longer I spent there. Being able to experience art, beauty and different cultures that I had never known existed.
I learned a lot from daily experiences like trying to speak a language that I only had a very basic grasp of, and the stress and loneliness that it can cause. Or from the things that you would see on a normal day which would only be considered normal in a place like Paris. From jazz musicians on the train to the massive homeless, sex, and race issues which were heartbreaking to witness so regularly, to say the least.
It’s certainly a great place to reflect on one’s place in the world as an artist or even just as a human where you feel the full weight of history behind it. I'm thankful that I took that leap.
In the past, we’ve spoken about how confronting it can be when you don’t feel inspired to create. Writer's blocks can be especially painful. What do you find restores your artistic process?
It’s certainly painful and often leaves me wondering why I didn’t become an accountant or something instead. I don’t know if I have any kind of remedy for these impedances other than accepting that it is a natural part of the process and not a malfunction. Accepting this and being mindful of it whenever it hits has helped me immensely, but I still face these battles regularly and just try my best to not let them discourage me.
Often it’s as simple as just going for a walk, watching a movie, reading, or even just switching off for the day, as hard as that can be.
Do you think that sitting with that uncomfortable feeling of being uninspired is a distraction from creating? Is it an excuse to hide from our true self and our true soul? Or is it a stagnant energy that stops us from moving forward in the creative process?
What a fantastic question.
I think that like artist’s block; these experiences should be accepted and embraced as being natural to our human condition. It’s so easy to go into some kind of nosedive of self-deprecation when this takes over.
It would be remiss of me to try and offer anything more than some potential ideas but perhaps it could be a distraction. Maybe one that kicks in automatically when we start getting too personal and afraid of revealing that to ourselves let alone to the public. Another potential concept is that our minds can easily become too distorted from the external world which causes us to place massive amounts of pressure on ourselves to compete with that external world when in fact, the truest and most personal works are the most valuable.
Do you have any rituals that define your process for creating?
That is a constant work in progress. Right now the only ritual is a lack of ritual. I struggle to develop any sort of consistent routine when it comes to creativity. The chaotic nature of my own creativity makes it virtually impossible at times to control it so I’ve tried to just focus on ways that I can help create a more facilitating environment. Meditation has been incredibly helpful to this in so many ways, as well as listening to some soft atmospheric music, lighting incense, and probably too much wine.
Your poetry questions the vulnerability of human beings. Specifically in ‘It Was The Night,’ there is a theme of loss, heartbreak, and longing.
In the shadows
I see you
the view from here is so beautiful but so empty without you
Did you write the book with the intent to share your own feelings of sorrow, or did you plan to leave it up to the reader to make their own interpretations? Or both?
The book started more as just individual notes and ramblings with no intention of becoming a book or being linked together but the majority of it was written whilst I was still living in Paris and then crossed over with moving back to Australia and tends to echo what my mind was like in that period.
The intention was only ever my own catharsis and trying to understand what I was feeling. Now that it is out in book form, the meaning lies with whoever is reading it and what they are feeling, I wouldn’t want to take away from that unique and personal experience.
What is your heart pulling you to create most right now?
It’s hard to say exactly as I rarely have a clear idea of what I want to create until I am already deep into the process. I am normally just chasing vague “feelings” and seeing how they manifest once I give them a space to. Right now, these are taking the forms of a short film, some painting, and a new book.
The second installment of Mabel artist Spotify playlists, featuring selections by Sam Haven is available by clicking here.