Colorado’s New Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre A Writer, Performer And ‘Cultural Translator’

Stephanie Wolf/CPR News
Bobby LeFebre was named Colorado’s new poet laureate at the state Capitol on Tuesday, June 23, 2019.

Colorado has a new poet laureate.

Gov. Jared Polis named Bobby LeFebre as the state’s next poet laureate at a press conference Tuesday.

“He has credentials that go above and beyond the job description, marrying the art of performance with poetry,” Polis said. “Bobby is not only an outstanding poet, but he uses his energy and his craft to give back to his community.”

Polis, who said his mother was a poet and his father an artist, added that “art is a powerful tool to bring us together and to inspire us.”

LeFebre, an award-winning Denver slam poet, writer, playwright and performer, took the mic and began by “acknowledging that we are on the ancestral lands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute people.”

“I ask that we ... honor their ancestors, past and present, and consider the many legacies of violence, displacement, migration and settlement that bring us together here today,” he said.

Addressing an enthusiastic crowd, LeFebre said the poet laureate “should not only strive to raise the consciousness and appreciation of the promotion, consumption and reading and writing of poetry, but they should also strive to raise the consciousness of our collective psyche."

LeFebre is a commissioner for the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs. He co-founded Sacred Voices, formerly Cafe Cultura, a nonprofit that uses spoken word to engage youth. He wrote a play called “Northside,” which recently closed a sold-out run at Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center. He's also a social worker with indigenous ties to the San Luis Valley.

Outgoing Colorado poet laureate Joseph Hutchison was there for the announcement. He said he’s excited to have LeFebre succeed him in the role.

“Bobby is a wonderful writer, wonderful performer and just a stellar human being,” Hutchison said.

The poet laureate program is supported by Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book and Colorado Creative Industries. The first appointment was in 1919, when Gov. Oliver Shoup selected Alice Polk Hill. LeFebre will hold the title for four years, and will receive a $2,000 stipend and up to $2,000 in travel expenses. He'll do readings around the state, mentor young poets and write poems for the opening of the legislative session.

In the honorary role, LeFebre hopes to “humanize poetry and to provide all people with entry to its power and applicability to their everyday life,” seeing a poet as “more than a writer... more than literature. The poet is a cultural translator … a steward and servant of humanity and emotion.”