Colorado has a new poet laureate: Boulder’s Andrea Gibson

Boulder poet Andrea Gibson.

Andrea Gibson, a Boulder-based artist, was unveiled as Colorado’s next poet laureate Wednesday at Boulder’s Chautauqua Park.

Gibson writes about many topics, including love, mental health and social justice. Their queer and non-binary identity also shines through in much of their work, and has also been inspired by their experience undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer after being diagnosed two years ago. 

Gibson, who was born in Maine, has called Boulder home since 1999. They are a four-time Denver poetry Grand Slam champion, as well as the author of six full-length collections of poetry. They’ve competed in national and international poetry slam competitions. 

Gibson is replacing outgoing state Poet Laureate Bobby LeFebre, an award-winning poet, artist, and writer with roots in the San Luis Valley. The position of the poet laureate was created to promote poetry, literacy, and literature through readings and other events.

“I want to come up with new and inventive ways to help a larger population fall in love and appreciate poetry. I want everyone to have a poem that they can go to like you would with a song. Poetry can be the vehicle that allows us to know each other and expand humanity. That’s what I hope to help do with this role,” Gibson said in a statement. 

Colorado poet laureates serve four-year terms and provide reports to the governor on the impact and success of the program every year. Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book and Colorado Creative Industries pays laureates a $5,000 honorarium and covers up to $5,000 for public presentation travel expenses.

Gibson was among four finalists nominated for the 2023-2027 term. The finalists also included Dominique Christina, Meca'Ayo Coleman, and Franklin Cruz. A panel of former laureates and poetry leaders reviewed nominees and passed recommendations to Gov. Jared Polis, who made the final decision. 

While welcoming Gibson as the new poet laureate Wednesday, Gov. Polis thanked the outgoing LeFebre, the youngest-ever Colorado Poet Laureate and first person of color to hold the position. 

“I want to thank Bobby for four years of service. When Bobby was appointed to this position, he embraced it fully. And over the last four years, he has represented our state and the arts better than we could’ve ever imagined,” Polis said in a statement. 

Since the position was created in 1919, nine people have served as Colorado’s Poet Laureate. Gibson will be the 10th person to hold the position.