Allan Monga

Maine Arts Commission

The National Endowment for the Arts is planning to eliminate a rule that prohibits some noncitizens from competing in a national poetry competition.

The decision comes four months after Deering High School student Allan Monga sued the federal agency for not allowing him to compete in the national Poetry Out Loud competition.

Deering High School

On Tuesday morning, 19-year-old Allan Monga of Westbrook stepped onstage in the first round of the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington, D.C. He took a breath, exhaled, and recited W.E.B. Dubois’ 1907 poem, “The Song of the Smoke.”

If it wasn’t for a federal judge’s ruling, that performance likely wouldn’t have happened, because while Monga won Maine’s Poetry Out Loud competition last month, he wasn’t considered eligible for the national finals because of his immigration status.

Deering High School

A federal judge says that a Portland student seeking asylum from Zambia can participate in a national poetry competition after he was initially barred by organizers due to his immigration status.

Maine Arts Commission

A student from from Portland's Deering High School took his case against the National Endowment for the Arts to a federal judge in Portland Wednesday.

Maine Arts Commission

A student at Portland's Deering High School has filed a lawsuit against the National Endowment for the Arts over its decision to ban him from competing in a national poetry competition because of his status as an asylum seeker.

Deering High School Junior Allan Monga recited three poems in last month's state Poetry Out Loud competition. This one, "The Song of the Smoke" first published by W.E.B. Du Bois in 1907, is an affirmation of black pride.

Courtesy Maine Arts Commission

Maine's Poetry Out Loud champion this year comes from Zambia, and he has only lived in Maine for a few months. 

Allan Monga, a junior at Deering High School, won the competition Tuesday night with the poem "In the Desert" by Stephen Crane. 

The challenge includes approximately 9,500 students from across the state. Monga says winning it one of his top achievements since arriving in Maine.