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Student wins Poetry Out Loud's state title

  • Anglea Goldberg
    Anglea Goldberg
Published March 19. 2010 05:00PM

Angela Goldberg, 18, a senior at Pleasant Valley High School, stood before the PVSD school board and gave an outstanding performance of reciting three poems out loud at the board meeting on Thursday, March 11.

She captivated her audience with her gestures, facial expressions and emotions, just like she did at PVHS's fourth annual Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest where she won first place; just like she did at the regional competition on Feb. 18 at the Allentown Art Museum where she won first place; and just like she did at the state competition on Monday, March 15 at the governor's residence where she won first place, competing against 11 other regional finalists in a daylong competition.

"I felt absolutely overwhelmed. You work so hard for something and then when it happens, it's the purest feeling of joy. I'm proud of myself and proud that I helped put my school on the map in some small way," says Angela.

Now this state champion will advance to the National Finals in Washington, D.C. April 25-27.

"We are thrilled. She was amazing," says Deb Lowenburg of Angela's performance at the state competition. Lowenburg and Mrs. Valerie Eblin are her PVHS coaches.

"The students competing in today's Poetry Out Loud state championship demonstrated talent, intelligence, competitive spirit, and a determination to excel," said council Chairman Diane Dalto. "We've seen Pennsylvania's participation in this exemplary national program grow into the second largest in the nation and the commonwealth can be very proud of students like today's competitors, and especially state champion Angela Goldberg."

As state champion, Angela will receive $200 from The Poetry Foundation and an expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete for the national championship during the final week of April. There Angela hopes to win the Poetry Out Loud national championship which awards a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends, with at least one $20,000 college scholarship for the Poetry Out Loud national champion.

Each competitor in the state championship memorized and prepared to perform three poems selected from print and online poetry anthologies. Evaluation criteria included voice and articulation, physical presence, appropriateness of dramatization, evidence of understanding, level of difficulty, overall performance, and accuracy.

Angela's choices of poetry were: "Come Up From the Fields Father" by Walt Whitman and two contemporary poems, "Beautiful Wreakage" by W.D. Ehrhart and "Money Refuses the Operation" by Lisel Mueller. She selected these three poems from the official Poetry Out Loud website.

"I like to say they chose me," says Angela.

In addition to reciting poetry, she loves to write her own poetry, read, draw and paint. She has been accepted at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia and so far has received its Presidential Scholarship of $50,000. She plans to major in fine arts and hopes to someday be a gallery artist, illustrate children's books and maybe someday teach other students to appreciate the fine arts.

She is the daughter of Karen and Owen Goldberg of Kunkletown.

The panel of judges for the state event were cultural leaders, writers and poets, including: First Lady Judge Marjorie O. Rendell; Karen Farmer White of Pittsburgh, a council member on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a member of the State Board of Education; Chris Estevez, a student at Stony Brook University in New York and Pennsylvania's first Poetry Out Loud state champion in 2006; Lara Brenckle, a municipal reporter for The Patriot-News of Central Pennsylvania and a three-time Pennsylvania Newspaper Association award winner for excellence in journalism; poet and playwright Maureen McGuigan, deputy director for arts and culture for Lackawanna County; and Brett Keyser, writer, performer and director for Nightjar Apothecary, a Philadelphia-based production company specializing in performances created for museum exhibitions. JoBeth McKee and Jamie Kasper of the Department of Education served as accuracy judges.

The National Endowment for the Arts and The Poetry Foundation created the Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest to encourage high school students to learn about great poetry through memorization, performance and competition.

Nine-thousand students in 90 Pennsylvania high schools across the state participated at the classroom level in this year's competition, vying to compete at one of the 12 regional competitions hosted by the PCA's Arts in Education Partners and the Pennsylvania Parent Teacher Association. The Pennsylvania Council on the Arts is a state agency under the Governor's Office that works to foster the excellence, diversity and vitality of the arts in Pennsylvania and to broaden the availability and appreciation of those arts throughout the state. The council started the Pennsylvania Arts in Education Partnership in 1995 to enhance efforts to foster educational excellence through participation in the creative process in schools and community settings.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, visit or call 717-787-6883. For further information on Poetry Out Loud, visit

Second place in the state went to DeVonna Smith, a Reading School District student from Berks County; and Kelly Kohlman of Derry Township School District, Dauphin County, won third place.

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