Seth Gozar and Sam Zanowski are the next artist and writer in our series of profiles focusing on the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards’ Gold Medal Portfolio recipients. In his writing, Seth focuses on everyday matters in order to reach his readers and open their minds to new perspectives. Sam uses his art to transport the viewer into another world, where the everyday has a new, more mysterious meaning.
“I hope my work gets people thinking. Each piece offers commentary on everyday concepts, whether good or bad. I want readers to consider how these messages play into their own perspectives, and if that affects them in any way. I like reaching out to others, and I think this portfolio reflects that well.
“Writing is an escape for me. I was the only kid who liked writer’s workshop in first grade. My teacher sensed that the rest of the class didn’t, so she’d extend recess. It wasn’t long before I started nagging her about the time being wasted. Even today, I write to detach from my regular life. I’m able to explore myself—culture, insecurities, suppressed pains—when otherwise, I’d be too busy or unwilling. I’ve become a better person through writing.”
Flash Fiction by Seth Gozar, Grade 12, Age 17, Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Jacksonville, FL
Knife in one hand, the pie before me. The children groan. They’ve waited for dessert all night. My daughter, my son, another on the way.
Cut me an extra-big slice, wife laughs. Baby’s gotta eat, too.
I pull the knife from red pulp and angle it differently, cut again into soft, tan crust. Red filling oozes out from already-open cuts.
Fourths. One slice each, four for the family. The family I’ve taken out to dinner, all waiting elbows on the table, feet rapping along the jukebox tunes, like marching boots through rain, rhythm with rhythm to a voice slicing through war’s clatter.
I’m safe here, with my family, but I’ve left the others behind—men in green, sometimes men in green stained brown, black, red.
Lieutenant Cody braved out front through dark, slick mud, always told us to think of something that links us home—something like a thick, flaky slice of diner pie. Cherry was his favorite. He’d never pass down the opportunity to enjoy dessert.
Private Ward said he never liked pie—said cookies were quicker, didn’t leave messes. Wasn’t above betraying himself, though, when rations offered pie (and just pie) for sugary thirst. He’d probably still be desperate now.
Dig again into soft brown layers, pushing past top crust to softer mush below.
Seven slices. Eight.
I should’ve bothered to learn the names of everyone else in the platoon—you can’t hear from the dead. The dead can’t eat but Jamal said that no matter what color you were, angels waited at heaven’s gate to give you a piece of warm, beautiful pie.
The pie sits, cherry filling splattered over its top and on the table around it.
Everyone notices my trembling hand, still clenched, still feeling red dribble down from blade to fingers.
“What I want in my work is a sense of stepping into another world, a world with fantastic wonders that contrast hidden horrors. I like the idea of creating glimpses of a different world in my work, glimpses that just by looking at them you feel like you’re engulfed in its world. For me, putting a narrative into or behind art is one of the best ways to communicate an idea through it, because one does not just look at it, but almost experiences it or at least is a little more connected to the art. When someone looks at my work I want them to walk away with almost an excitement or some amusement about the possibilities that are in the sci-fi-medieval world I fall in love with creating. The limitless freedom to make seemingly impossible stories real is what motivates me to create what I create.”
To see more Gold Medal Portfolio recipients, past and present, visit our Eyes on the Prize series.