John Mark Eberhart, a noted local author, editor and literary critic and a graduate of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, died early Tuesday.
Eberhart, 52, had been battling cancer for some time. In 2007, he was named the Alumni Achievement Award winner for the College of Arts and Sciences. He earned a master’s degree in English from the college in 1998.
He was Books Editor of The Kansas City Star from 2000 to 2009. According to an article in The Star, “As Books Editor, Eberhart encouraged local writers and brought a variety of reviewers to the pages of The Star’s books section. A poet himself, he gave space and time to many area poets.” Eberhart published two volumes of poetry, “Night Watch” and “Broken Time.”
Robert Stewart, editor of UMKC’s New Letters magazine, praised Eberhart for the encouragement he gave his friends and colleagues.
“Not only was he a wonderful journalist, he was a very active literary editor,” Stewart told The Star. “John Mark really inspired a lot of local people to pursue writing, to believe in it and believe that it was valuable.”
The nomination for Eberhart’s 2007 alumni achievement award stated: “John Mark not only has excelled as a journalist for The Kansas City Star, but as the Star’s book review editor, he has expanded the paper’s literary coverage to an unprecedented degree. Notable among all of this, John Mark Eberhart has used his talent and energy to advance the reputation of the UMKC literary community.”
The writing life
Eberhart worked in newspapers for nearly 30 years, starting in the early 1980’s in Baton Rouge, La. where he served as Environmental Reporter for The State-Times from 1983 to 1986. He joined the staff of The Kansas City Star in 1987, and was the Books Editor from 2000 to 2009.
The Star‘s Political Correspondent and Up to Date Host Steve Kraske recalls Eberhart took great pride in the number of times his byline appeared in the paper.
In March 2009, the Star cut nearly 30 positions, including Eberhart’s.
In a 2012 article in the J-School Magazine of the Missouri School of Journalism, Eberhart gave this advice to journalism students:
“Your writing is something that is going to develop over a long period of time … I’m still learning. Writing is tough and getting better at it takes time. Your progress tends to be incremental, not dramatic. Don’t worry about that, just persevere. Third, the world is changing. I had to make a career change because my newspaper career ended. But, I still use my journalism degree every day.”
Most recently, Eberhart served as the Reader’s Advisory Coordinator for the Johnson County Central Resource Library in Overland Park, Kan. He joined the library staff in 2010.
Eberhart also authored two poetry collections, “Night Watch” (2005) and “Broken Time” (2008). “Broken Time” was a finalist for the 2009 Thorpe Menn Award for Literary Excellence, which recognizes local authors. His poems appeared in journals such as Coal City Review, Mid-America Poetry Review, New Letters magazine, New Millennium Writings, Pleiades, and The Midwest Quarterly, among others.