EVERETT — Garry Larson is known around school for his inspirational poetry. This year he was selected as a GEAR-UP student Ambassador, and will travel to Washington, D.C., as a representative of students from Washington state.
GEAR-UP stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs and aims to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter college.
Question: Tell me about being a GEAR-UP Ambassador.
Answer: I'm going to Washington, D.C., in July. It is such an honor. I'm just humbled how they (my classmates) chose me out of all the other kids that I feel could be better than me, and I'm one out of six kids in the whole state. So I just want to put out a good word for everyone I love.
Q: What are your plans after high school?
A: I definitely want to go to a university. I'm not 100 percent sure, but I'm thinking Gonzaga or the UW. I don't have a solid plan in place, but I really love science. I kind of want to go more into history, because I love about learning about the wars, and how we need to learn about history so we don't repeat it.
Q: What was your home life like growing up?
A: I kind of have a complicated story because I lived in the foster care system for 10 years, so it was back and forth between Washington and California. I got adopted when I was 13, and I just kind of look at that as a second chance. Previously, I had no chance of success, I wasn't in a position where I could flourish, but now I'm in a position where I'm succeeding in school, I'm starting to think about my potential.
Q: How does that translate into your high school life?
A: My identity is kind of pliable, just how I think of myself changes really quickly. Everyone my age questions who they are, and even I still do that. But my morals are established. Some of my future characteristics are open to question. I just think how much dramatically I've changed over time and how my outlook's changed, and that's why I like writing so much, it's like keeping a log.
Also I can take different morals and lessons from poems I write and stories I tell. I just really love writing, because there's a sort of rhythm that goes with it, and it ties into my love of music. You can even yell in part of your poem to emphasize certain events, or you can have a dramatic pause to let things sink in. I like to think of you know your heart beats in a rhythm, and that's just like sometimes the tempos in my life change, and I love to write stories and songs in different tempos.
Q: How are your grades?
A: Three As, three B-plusses. They're not perfect grades, I'm working on them. But having a job, (working) 4:30-9:30 p.m. sometimes... I'm getting better at time management, so hopefully they'll start to bump back up. I try to do homework during school, during lunch, and sometimes when I get home from work at seven or eight and I'll have time to do it after that.
Q: Your football teammates gave you an award a year or two ago. What was that about?
A: The Most Inspirational award. I enjoy writing poetry, and we were playing a rival school, and I read them a football poem I wrote to pump them up. They had me read it twice.
Q: How did you get started writing poetry?
A: I always loved writing as a kid. I struggled in school for a very long time, I learned a lot slower than the other kids. But I also excelled at writing, so I put all my energy into that. A few years ago, I started writing again because I didn't want to lose that. And I started rhyming, and I thought, “This could be poetry.”
Q: What inspires your poetry?
A: I'm a very passionate person. I've always used writing to get my thoughts to organize them for other people to understand. Anything I'm passionate about, I go all out. I really like to inspire others, I don't want them to get discouraged from pursuing their own talents.
Q: Do you rap as well?
A: A little bit. I still have to expand my horizons into that. I'm still just setting a base level of things I can do. I definitely want to do other things. Some music these days is a little too literal, it seems like it's about drugs. I love music that's poetic, when you listen to the lyrics it makes you think. I think Twenty One Pilots is really cool, they just implement so many literary elements into their singing, and it conveys other meanings.
Q: Do you have any favorite poets or writers?
A: Not necessarily. I just love listening to different spoken words from other people. Even though many people think Shakespeare is boring, when you're reading it aloud, it's just ... whew! Mind blown.
Q: What's your favorite Shakespeare play?
A: I'd have to say “Romeo and Juliet.” It's kind of the mainstream one. It comes from a sense of identity, who you are. Even though I'm a little skeptical about the drama and the love, it makes you question your own morals, who you are. It's kind of rebellious.
Q: What else do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: I love to jog a lot. And listen to music. My body goes to a tempo with the music, and enters a rhythm, like my writing does. It connects the free-flowing thoughts in my mind. It can be like a hurricane at times, but when I connect them in writing, everything seems to make sense and I feel down to earth. Sometimes I feel I can jog 10 miles at a time, just to live in that moment.
Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.