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Hampton junior continues to excel in the arts

Wednesday, March 6, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Anna Voelker's interest in the arts is earning her accolades and taking her to Harrisburg to compete at the state level.

Voelker, a junior at Hampton Township High School, will compete against high school students from across Pennsylvania on Monday, March 11, in a contest for Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest.

The contest is presented in a partnership with the PA Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation to encourage high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

Voelker will advance to the state level competition after winning the regional contest held at the Pittsburgh Filmmakers/Pittsburgh Center for the Arts last month.

Hampton High School did not have a school-level contest, which normally is required to compete in the regional competition; however, Voelker lobbied for a waiver.

“I'm really excited and glad I got to compete,” said Voelker, who also performs with Young Steel, a youth poetry slam league, which is part of the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective.

“I do a lot of performance poetry for my own stuff, so I have my own style that works with my poems, but I thought this would be interesting.

“I think it is useful because I definitely learned some things about different ways to present poetry that I now consider when I do my own stuff.”

Voelker memorized and performed three poems — “Famous” by Naomi Shihab Nye, “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold, and “I Am Offering this Poem” by Jimmy Santiago Baca. Students are judged on voice and articulation, physical presence, dramatic appropriateness, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, overall performance and accuracy.

When Voelker takes the stage later this month, she will be competing for the state champion title, $200 from The Poetry Foundation and an expense-paid trip to compete in the national championship.

Voelker's passion for performance started at a young age and the poetry recitation competition combined her love of performance with poetry, for which she also has received local recognition.

Recently, Voelker was recognized by the Alliance for Young Artists & Writers through the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards for her written poetry, as well as her photography and digital art.

Voelker has been writing poetry for several years and only recently started exploring photography as another artistic outlet.

“I think photography in and of itself is pretty poetic,” Voelker said of pursuing both interests.

“I think they both attempt to explore things and articulate them in their own ways.”

Bethany Hofstetter is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-772-6364 or




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