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A night for the poets; Eberhart contest draws over 170 poets

There was no worry Monday that poetry was a dying form of expression.

Over 170 students in Austin Public Schools entered the Richard Eberhart Poetry Contest, created 12 years ago from an endowment by the family of local alumnus and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Eberhart.

The 24 finalists in the contest — three from each of the district’s eight schools — gathered at the Hormel Historic Home Monday to read their poems. Winners were then named, one from each school.

“Being a finalist is quite an accomplishment,” said John Alberts, executive director of Educational Services for Austin Public Schools, who also served as emcee. “You have a talent for writing and great potential.”

The poems varied in length, content and tone.

Wren Clinefelter, an eighth grader at Ellis Middle School, created a somber note with “To Whom It May Concern.” Here is a portion:
“ …Our pain is not yours.

You don’t get a say

If who I am

Or whom I love

Or how I live

Is proof enough

To say you have a place above

Someone who barely knows your name

Because causing harm is not a game

And you have no right to gamble with pain.”
Nora Curtis, however, a senior at Austin High School, raised chuckles with her “An Ode to Girl Scout Cookies.” Another taste:

“Someone, please write an ode to Girl Scout Cookies.

They are the ever-present embodiment of happiness,

Tucked away in colored boxes,

Stacked neatly upon tables

Behind which little girls stand.

They are ambrosia sent from Aphrodite herself —

In brown paper packages

Adorned with bows.

These cookies are like apples

Dangling in Eden

Tempting, tantalizing, deliciously thin, crispy cool mint.

Or hearty Samoa, with a chewy grace …

If Emily Dickinson can devote an entire poem to snails —

Then why can’t Girl Scout cookies be praised as well?”

Richard Eberhart Poetry Contest winners, from left front, Woodson Kindergarten Center, Banning Korfhage; Banfield Elementary School, Emma Stanley; Neveln Elementary School, Izaak Belden; and Southgate Elementary School, Lucas Myers. Back, I.J. Holton Intermediate School, Ajulo Awow; Ellis Middle School, Wren Clinefelter; Austin High School, Nora Curtis; and Sumner Elementary School, Enar Zaki. Deb NIcklay/deb.nicklay@austindailyherald.com

Here is a full list of winners:

•Woodson Kindergarten Center: Banning Korfhage.

•Banfield Elementary School: Emma Stanley.

•Neveln Elementary School: Izaak Belden.

•Southgate Elementary School: Lucas Myers.

•Sumner Elementary School: Enar Zaki.

•I.J. Holton Intermediate School: Ajulo Awow.

•Ellis Middle School: Wren Clinefelter.

•Austin High School: Nora Curtis.

The event is sponsored by the Austin Public Education Foundation, Hormel Historic Home, Friends of the Austin Public Library and the Austin Public Schools’ Gifted and Talented Services; all in partnership with the Richard Eberhart Family.