Student from Zambia fights to compete in US poetry contest

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Lawyers for a high school student who fled his native Zambia and is suing to compete in a government-funded national poetry competition will argue their case to a federal judge.

Last month, 17-year-old Westbrook student Allan Monga won the Maine "Poetry Out Loud" contest.

The Bangor Daily News reports he has applied for asylum in the U.S., but has not been granted legal residency. That means he is not allowed to compete in the National Endowment of the Arts' national "Poetry Out Loud" contest.

The judge will hear arguments Wednesday in Portland.

NEA attorneys are urging the federal judge to let the organization's eligibility rules stand.

Monga and the Portland School District argue the NEA is violating the Constitution's equal protection clause by banning him.

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Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangordailynews.com