Joao Victor, 18, won Maine's 2019 Poetry Out Loud competition with his recitation of the poem "Bright Copper Kettles." Credit: Maine Arts Commission via Maine Public

The Lewiston City Council has named a high school senior the city’s first youth poet laureate. Joao Victor, 18, 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.

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, a state representative and mayor of Lewiston, 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 said. “Just recognizing that success comes in many different forms, and this is one of them.”

Cloutier has a child who attends Lewiston High School, and she said recognizing creative achievements is incredibly important to her. She said 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 said. “So every two years, each incoming mayor would name a youth poet laureate for their term.”

This article appears through a media partnership with Maine Public.