Governor Polis announced today that Bobby LeFebre has been selected as the new Colorado Poet Laureate, succeeding Joseph Hutchison.
“Bobby LeFebre has an amazing ability to empower and connect communities through the wisdom of his words; that is why we are confident he will make a fantastic Poet Laureate,” said Governor Jared Polis. “He embodies the spirit of a ‘Colorado for All’ where everyone is included. I know he will be a strong advocate for the arts and art education as a way to bring us together.”
The Poet Laureate position was created to promote an appreciation of poetry in Colorado and to honor outstanding Colorado poets. The Poet Laureate serves as an active advocate for poetry, literacy, and literature by participating in readings and other events at schools, libraries, literary festivals, and the State Capitol. The Poet Laureate will also provide the Governor with an annual account of the impact and success of the Colorado Poet Laureate program and prepare a poem for the opening of the legislative session upon request.
Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book and Colorado Creative Industries jointly support the honorary position, providing a $2,000 honoraria and up to $2,000 in travel expenses related to public presentations for each of the four years of the term.
LeFebre is an award-winning writer, performer, and cultural and social worker with “indigenous roots in the San Luis Valley that predate statehood.” A performance artist of the highest order, he says he is “fusing a non-traditional multi-hyphened professional identity to imagine new realities, empower communities, advance arts and culture, and serve as an agent of provocation and social transformation, equity and change.”
He is also an Emmy-Nominated, SAG Eligible talent with a national performance reputation. LeFebre serves as a Commissioner for the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, fellow of the Intercultural Leadership Institute, and an advisory board member of the Latino Cultural Arts Center and many other cultural organizations, including the Clyfford Still Museum and La Raza. As a co-founder of Cafe Cultura, he also produces Interfest, an arts and ideas festival “for liberationists to radically engage, boldly express and joyously unify as a community.”
As Colorado Poet Laureate, LeFebre plans to “widen poetry’s reach. To visit every corner of this state connecting with people through it. . . . I believe that my ability to impact and/or shape culture lives most-authentically in my connection to people through art. I am invested in cultural change. Poets are always at the forefront of influencing and changing culture, and before we see large-scale social or political change, it is the heart and soul of issues that change first.”
Margaret Hunt, Director of Colorado Creative Industries, added, “We’re delighted with Governor Polis’s selection of Bobby LeFebre as Colorado’s next Poet Laureate. Through his work in slam and spoken word poetry and as a playwright, Bobby has exceptional skill and experience in working with people of all ages and backgrounds. We look forward to working with Bobby during the next four years.”
Colorado became one of the first states to have a Poet Laureate when Governor Oliver Shoup appointed Alice Polk Hill in 1919. Since then seven other people have served: Nellie Burget Miller (1923-1952), Margaret Clyde Robertson (1952-1954), Milford E. Shields (1954), Thomas Hornsby Ferril (1979-1988), Mary Crow (1996-2010), David Mason (2010-2014), and Joseph Hutchison (2014 – Present).
Margaret Coval, Colorado Humanities Executive Director, said, “We have seen how poetry can build bridges of understanding. We look forward to working with Bobby LeFebre as he creates opportunities for Coloradans to experience the power of poetry in their lives.”
A Colorado Poet Laureate finalist selection committee met in April of 2019 to discuss the merits of twenty submitted nominees. The committee presented four finalists to Governor Polis based on artistic excellence, demonstrated history of community service, and effectiveness of their presentations. The other finalists were Aaron A. Abeyta, Wendy Videlock and Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.