Emely Paz Gil, a fourth-grader at Southgate Elementary School, smiles and holds up her check after her poem, “Where I’m From,” was named one of the winners at “A Night With Our Poets” at Austin Public Library Monday night. -- Jason Schoonover/jason.schoonover@austindailyherald.com
Emely Paz Gil, a fourth-grader at Southgate Elementary School, smiles and holds up her check after her poem, “Where I’m From,” was named one of the winners at “A Night With Our Poets” at Austin Public Library Monday night. -- Jason Schoonover/jason.schoonover@austindailyherald.com

Archived Story

‘A fine night’; Austin students share poetry at annual Eberhart finale

Published 11:04am Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Austin kindergartner Brendan Humphress was all smiles when he was named one of the winners of the Eberhart Poetry Contest Monday night, even when he received many hugs and kisses from his family.

Brendan was one of 23 Austin Public Schools students whose work was featured at “A Night with Our Poets,” the annual culmination of the Eberhart Poetry Contest held Monday at the Austin Public Library.

Brendan was pretty surprised when he won, according to his mom, Kellie Humphress.

“I won’t let him fib, he told me he was worried in the car,” Humphress said.

Kindergartner Brendan Humphress, center, and Gifted and Talented Coordinator David Wolff, center right, smile after Brendan is named winner for his poem “My Grandma” during “A Night With Our Poets” at Austin Public Library Monday. night.
Kindergartner Brendan Humphress, center, and Gifted and Talented Coordinator David Wolff, center right, smile after Brendan is named winner for his poem “My Grandma” during “A Night With Our Poets” at Austin Public Library Monday. night.

Brendan’s poem was titled “My Grandma.” When asked why he wrote this poem about his grandma, Brendan simply said, “Because she’s very sweet.” He said it felt ‘good’ to win, and he was happy that his grandmother, who is actually his great-grandmother, was able to attend.

The event was started by the family of Richard Eberhart, a famous poet and Austin native, to preserve their father’s legacy, according to David Wolff, Austin Public Schools’ gifted and talented coordinator. The event also inspired children to write their own poetry

“They’re encouraged to write their poetry on their own,” Wolff said.

Taylor Sharpe smiles at the crowd after finishing his poem “Every Evening Was a Fine Night.”
Taylor Sharpe smiles at the crowd after finishing his poem “Every Evening Was a Fine Night.”

Monday’s event featured the poems of 23 finalists, and most read their work for more than 80 people in attendance. The winners received prize money ranging from $25 for kindergardeners to $200 for high schoolers.

The event has been going on for about 15 years, but last year was the first time organizers opened it to the public. According to Wolff, in the past it was just the children and their families.

When the event partnered with the Friends of the Austin Public Library, they came up with the idea to invite a guest poet.

“The kids get an opportunity to see a real poet,” Wolff said.

Kindergartner Reese Whiteis reads her poem Monday.
Kindergartner Reese Whiteis reads her poem Monday.

This year’s guest poet was Tim Nolan, who spoke and read four of his own poems.

“[Poets] pick up things that don’t seem to matter, and they make it matter,” Nolan told the crowd.

Seventeen-year-old Taylor Sharpe wrote about a middle-aged man who hadn’t lived his life to the fullest and was regretting it.

“I just went in, sat at my computer, cracked my knuckles and just kept typing until I was pleased with it,” Sharpe said.

The Austin High School senior said his prize-winning poem, “Every Saturday was a Fine Night,” just came to him naturally.

“It all came from the heart,” he said.

Sharpe competed against two other finalists from AHS and admitted he had pretty good competition. Sharpe, one of the oldest competitors featured Monday, said the contest was a good way to get young students interested in poetry.

“It’s a good thing the library is holding this event to raise awareness to all the kiddos about this underrated medium,” Sharpe said.

2014 Eberhart Winners
2014 Eberhart Winners

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