Kurt Meyer Presents Pulitzer Prize Information

Hamlin Garland and Edna Furber are two Iowan authors who were recognized for their work with a Pulitzer Prize.


GIVING THE DETAILS - Curt Meyer, Iowa Humanities Speaker, explains why he thinks Iowa Pulitzer Prize winners' books were selected for the award. Meyer spoke at the American Legion Memorial Building. Eight AHS students attended the event On Nov. 16.

Many students aren’t accustomed to the names Hamlin Garland and Edna Furber, nor their accomplishments, and close to home roots. Both Garland and Furber were highly acclaimed authors and won the Pulitzer Prize for their work, but what do these two have in common with students from AHS? Both were residents of Iowa at some point in their lives, using the rural environment to help mold and develop the setting and tone of their novels.

Last week, Atlantic was visited by Iowa Humanities Speaker Kurt Meyer, who gave a presentation regarding the two authors and the importance of Iowan roots in their careers. Eight students were sent to observe this presentation, including Brynna Kern, Alexya Kern, Aly Brockob, Grace Clay, Katy Rothfusz, Chaylei Carey, Ariel Clark and Kyra Namanny.

Meyer, an Iowa resident himself, is an avid speaker on the Iowan Pulitzer Prize winners. His interest began with a book he was given as a child due to the closing of his school. The book was a copy of Garland’s “Boy Life on The Prairie,” and though Meyer did not read the book until later in his life, he became fascinated by the “close to home” novel. “His story was my story and I wanted to claim it,” said Meyer, regarding Garland’s writing. The love of the book soon spread to the love of the author, but Meyer, after realizing that the availability of accurate biographies on Garland was very slim, decided to act on this predicament. Along with a small group of Garland appreciates, Meyer re-wrote a biography using photographs of Iowa setting that connected the author to the land.

Meyer’s presentation centered mostly on Garland’s rise to fame, along with another Iowa raised author: Edna Furber. Meyer made sure to let the audience know that though the two authors shared some similar traits, they were two very different people. Garland, winning the Pulitzer Prize with his novel “A Daughter of The Middle Border,” was prominent with creating in his stories a vision of the tough and gritty life on the farm. This take on rural life was seen as very accurate and made Garland a literary trailblazer. Edna Furber, winning the Pulitzer Prize with her novel “So Big,” was a European immigrant who moved to Iowa in her youth. Being treated unfairly for being a foreigner in America, Furber used her struggles of being targeted for racism to fuel her writing. She strove to create strong women in her characters and push sexist stereotypes aside.

The last key point in Meyer’s presentation was the fact that neither of these prize-winning authors were college graduates; “[They] took their talent and made the most of it.” He also pointed out that life encounters and memories, although not always pleasant, are the true tools that create a powerful author. Carey, one of the students present at the event, felt that this idea was “good” and that the speaker was “knowledgeable and interesting to listen to.”

Meyer took time to praise the students present at the event, happy to have young minds listen to his presentation. He wants to instill in Iowa youth the appreciation of our home-grown authors while encouraging young writers to use personal experiences to mold their work.