The Eberhart Poetry Contest

Published 6:08 pm Friday, January 21, 2022

By Edwina Harder

Gifted Services for Talent Development Coordinator

There are many events at Austin Public Schools that students and the community look forward to, from homecoming to the annual holiday concert. One of these events is Austin Public School’s Richard Eberhart Poetry Contest. This contest, a celebration of student poetry, is named after the Poet Laureate Richard Eberhart, who was born in Austin in 1904. He published poetry volumes throughout his lifetime, winning all four major awards for his poetry.

Though Eberhart died in 2005, his legacy lives on here in Austin. The library at Austin High School is named in his honor, and every year K-12 students in Austin Public Schools can participate in the Eberhart Poetry Contest. Students submit original poems and each building’s poems are read by a committee to determine the three building finalists. Each building’s finalists are invited to read their poems at our annual “Night of Poetry” event, which the community is encouraged to attend.

Normally, this event is held at the Hormel Historic Home, but as we know, these past two years have brought much uncertainty into our daily lives. As a school district we have worked hard to pivot to create a safe and routine school experience, whether in-person or online.

If we are able to safely hold the event in-person, this year’s “Night of Poetry” will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29, at the Hormel Historic Home. Finalists will read their original works of poetry and honor a person in their life who has encouraged them in their writing. After all the poems are read, the winner for each building will be announced and they will receive a cash prize from an endowment that the Eberhart family has set up through the Austin Public Education Foundation. The Friends of the Public Library also sponsor this event and every finalist receives a book of poetry as a reward.

If we are unable to safely host the event in-person, we will produce a video that would be available on the school district website (https://austin.k12.mn.us) on the same date.

We hope you will consider joining us at the Hormel Historic Home at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29, to hear the poems these students have written. This event is a collaboration between Austin Public Schools, the Austin Education Foundation, the Friends of the Public Library and the family of Richard Eberhart. Come and celebrate the impact that one of Austin’s early citizens had on our world — the power of the written word.