Poetry Out Loud

Maine Arts Commission

The Lewiston City Council has named a high school senior the city’s first “Youth Poet Laureate.”

For the second consecutive year, an asylum seeker from Maine has made it to the final round of a national spoken poetry 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.

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.