The Lewiston City Council has named a high school senior the city’s first “Youth Poet Laureate.”
18-year-old Joao Victor won Maine’s 2019 Poetry Out Loud competition with his recitation of the poem, “Bright Copper Kettles.” He then competed in the national finals in Washington D.C.
via Maine Arts Commission
Victor came to the United States three years ago from Angola and is seeking asylum. He will write and recite a poem at Lewiston High School’s ‘Night of Excellence’ on June 4.
Kristen Cloutier is a state representative and mayor of Lewiston, and she created the youth poet laureate position.
“This is something I’m really excited about, I think this could be a really positive step forward for the city and be really really good for our kids," she says. "Just recognizing that success comes in many different forms, and this is one of them.”
Cloutier has a child in the Lewiston Public School system, and she says recognizing creative achievements is incredibly important to her. She says she hopes that the Youth Poet Laureate position will become a fixture in Lewiston.
“So my hope is, and I think the plan is, what we put into the city council resolve on Tuesday is that this would be a position that would cycle in the same way the mayoral position does," she says. "So every two years, each incoming mayor would name a youth poet laureate for their term.”
Correction: an earlier version of this story erroneously stated that Cloutier had a child who attended Lewiston Public High School, rather than who was in the Lewiston Public school system. We regret the error.