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Literary Landmark honors Eberhart

There is a reason that Minnesota’s seventh Literary Landmark honoring Austin native, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Eberhart, was installed at Austin High School.

Some in the community, explained Sue Grove, wondered why the plaque, which was unveiled and dedicated Monday in the lobby of the school, “didn’t get put somewhere else,” such as the public library.

There was good reason, said Grove. Eberhart was something of a star while at Austin High School — fertile ground, it seemed, for his future endeavors.

Grove, president of the local Friends of the Library, is also a board member of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends and spoke at the dedication of the landmark.

Austin High School partnered with Friends of the Austin Library and the Minnesota Association of Library Friends for the unveiling.

Eberhart was active both academically and in activities.

The 1921 AHS graduate was head of the school’s literary society, captain of the football team, president of the junior class, and played saxophone in the orchestra.

Minnesota’s seventh Literary Landmark, that pays tribute to Austin poet, Richard Eberhart.
Deb Nicklay/deb.nicklay@austindailyherald.com

He eventually went on to teach at Dartmouth College — and, of course, wrote poetry that today stands as some of the world’s best.

Eberhart, who died in 2005 at 101, earned the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1966 and was named the U.S. Poet Laureate, following Robert Frost, from 1959 to 1961. His many poems earned the respect of critics, said Grove.

The plaque outlines his life and awards, and includes a Distinguished Alumni honor plaque, presented in 2004. It is located on the south wall of the foyer into AHS, directly across from the attendance office.

Grove read his poem, “This Fevers Me,” in tribute to Eberhart:

“This fevers me, this sun on green,

On grass glowing, this young spring.

The secret hallowing is come,

Regenerate sudden incarnation,

Mystery made visible

In growth, yet subtly veiled in all,

Ununderstandable is grass,

In flowers, and in the human heart …”

Judy Schotzko, president of the Minnesota Association of Library Friends, said Austin should be proud to be home of only one of seven Literary Landmarks in Minnesota, and 160 in the U.S.

Superintendent Dave Krenz thanked the Friends of the Library for their work and spoke of the pride of having such a distinguished alumni.

AHS Principal Katie Baskin agreed, happy that with this recognition, one of the most distinguished of AHS alumni “continues to live and breathe here. With our [Richard Eberhart named] media room, and our poetry contest, our students know Richard Eberhart. Our alumni who visit are proud to call Austin home.”

Others on hand to offer congratulations were MALF board members Debby Frenzel, who is on the Library Landmark committee for the association; and treasurer Kim Edson.

School Board member Don Leathers was also on hand, as was John Alberts, executive director of Educational Services.