Colorado selected its first poet laureate in 1919. And today, 100 years later, another poet laureate was announced by Gov. Jared Polis: Bobby LeFebre, who is a talented poet, performance artist, writer (of many genres, including the play Northside), member of the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, and on and on.
I attended the announcement, thanks to an invitation from a friend who works for Colorado Creative Industries. It was a joyous event, with a few speeches – including from the Governor – and a spoken word performance by LeFebre. The audience included many of the actors from Northside.
Colorado’s poet laureate serves a four-year term and is chosen by the Governor through a program administered by Colorado Creative Industries and Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book. So it’s a collaborative program, expecting the laureate to deal with myriad duties across the state. Colorado was among the first states to select a poet laureate.
Performances at Su Teatro of Northside have come to an end, though it had been extended; apparently there will be a couple of other performances, but in different venues (including, perhaps, a park). If you missed it, find a performance. Northside captures the change rolling through one neighborhood – and roiling many other neighborhoods – as Denver has been transformed in so many ways.
In a clip from 9News, LeFebre said, “The poet, and more importantly to me, the poet laureate, should not only strive to raise the consciousness and appreciation and the promotion and consumption and reading and writing of poetry, but they should also strive to raise the consciousness of our collective psyche, and heal where there is hurt, celebrate where there is joy, share where there is peace, disrupt where there is stagnation, build where there is opportunity, fight where there is conflict, and challenge where there is complacency.” The photograph above is a detail from the 9News online story.
Said Polis of LeFebre: “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.”
I’ll toast to all of that.
For more on this event and on LeFebre, here are links to the release with a lot of information on his work and background, a story in Westword, and a piece on 9News.