By Edwina Harder
Talent Development Coordinator Gifted Services
Students and the community look forward to many events at Austin public schools, from homecoming to the annual holiday concert. One such event is the Austin Public School Richard Eberhart Poetry Contest. This competition, a celebration of student poetry, is named for Poet Laureate Richard Eberhart, born in Austin in 1904. He published volumes of poetry throughout his life, winning all four major prizes for his poetry.
Although Eberhart passed away in 2005, his legacy lives on here in Austin. The Austin High School library is named after him, and every year K-12 students at Austin Public Schools can enter the Eberhart Poetry Contest. Students submit original poems, and each building’s poems are read by a committee to determine the building’s three finalists. Finalists from each building are invited to read their poems at our annual “Night of Poetry” event, in which the community is invited to participate.
Normally, this event takes place at the Hormel Historic House, but as we know, the past two years have brought a lot of uncertainty to 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 in-person event, this year’s “Night of Poetry” will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29 at the historic Hormel House. Finalists will read their original works of poetry and pay tribute to someone in their life who encouraged them in their writing. After all the poems are read, the winner of each building will be announced and they will receive a cash prize from an endowment the Eberhart family created through the Austin Public Education Foundation. The Friends of the Public Library also sponsors this event and each finalist receives a book of poetry as a reward.
If we are unable to safely host the in-person event, we will produce a video that will be available on the school district’s website (https://austin.k12.mn.us) on the same date. .
We hope you will consider joining us at Hormel Historic Home at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 29 to hear the poems these students wrote. This event is a collaboration between Austin Public Schools, the Austin Education Foundation, Friends of the Public Library and the family of Richard Eberhart. Come celebrate the impact that one of Austin’s first citizens had on our world: the power of the written word.