LEWISTON — The City Council named Lewiston High School senior Joao Victor the first “Youth Poet Laureate” of the city after he won the state’s 2019 Poetry Out Loud competition and was among nine national finalists.

Joao Victor recites the poem “Bright Copper Kettles” by Vijay Seshardi in the national Poetry Out Loud competition in Washington, D.C. in May. Screen grab from the National Endowment for the Arts livestream

Victor, 18, won the state finals in Waterville in March and read poetry at the national finals earlier this month at The George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

Victor came to the United States three years ago from Angola and speaks seven languages. He won the state competition in March, beating nine other contestants from around the state, including last year’s winner, Allan Monga, of Deering High School in Portland.

Victor previously referred to Monga, who fled violence in his home country of Zambia, as a role model. Both are seeking asylum in the U.S.

The council’s resolve Tuesday stated, “Joao’s success has brought attention to the creativity of the youth of the city of Lewiston and brought positive attention to our community and our school system.”

It goes on to say that “the honorary position of Youth Poet Laureate is intended to provide ongoing recognition to the creativity and accomplishments of youth in the city.”

The council voted unanimously to support the position.

According to the council resolve, the mayor is authorized to appoint a resident of Lewiston who is an elementary or secondary school student to the position, with the appointment made by the mayor following each regular municipal election.

“The Youth Poet Laureate shall be invited to participate in various school and city ceremonial occasions throughout the student’s term in office, including writing and reciting an original poem at the city’s inauguration ceremony,” according to the resolve.

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