LEWISTON – A Lewiston High School senior seeking asylum in Maine is competing today against eight other students at the Poetry Out Loud National Finals in Washington D.C.

Joao Victor of Lewiston High School shouts with joy after he was named winner in the Poetry Out Loud state final held at the Waterville Opera House on March 11. Victor will compete for the title of National Champion of Poetry Out Loud on Wednesday in Washington, D.C. Morning Sentinel photo by David Leaming

It has been an impressive run for Joao Victor, 18, who came to the U.S. three years ago from Angola and speaks seven languages.

He won the State of Maine Poetry Out Loud contest March 11 against a field of nine other students.

On Tuesday, Victor won a spot into the National Finals by defeating 14 other students from the East, Central, and Northeast Region in the semifinals.

Now, Victor, from a field of more than 275,000 students who participated in the contest nationwide, is one of nine students competing in the finals.

According to the Poetry Out Loud website, the Poetry Out Loud National Finals will award a total of $50,000 in scholarships and school stipends, with a $20,000 college scholarship provided to the Poetry Out Loud National Champion.

The three poems students recite in the competition must be chosen from the national Poetry Out Loud anthology, according to the Poetry Out Loud website. One of the poems must be be 25 lines or fewer, and one must have been written before the 20th Century.

The finals, which take place from 7 to 9:15 p.m., can be live-streamed on the National Endowment for the Arts website.

Morning Sentinel Staff Writer Amy Calder contributed to this report.

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