Checking In with Colorado’s Poet Laureate

With a new year upon us, many look for guidance to set goals and find meaning and inspiration. As we enter yet another year amid the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, art offers us a space to introspect and understand what motivates us. Lucky for Coloradans, we are in the caring and creative hands of Bobby LeFebre, Colorado’s Poet Laureate. 

Bobby LeFebre is Colorado’s eighth Poet Laureate, appointed by Governor Polis in 2019, and is an award-winning writer, performer and cultural worker who works to imagine new realities, empower communities, advance arts and culture and serve as an agent of provocation, transformation, equity and social change. While his work has always been inspired and motivated by social change and community building, the past couple years of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial reckoning in this country has brought an increased sense of responsibility to offer poetry that will help people make sense of the current state of our world. He spoke to The Durango Herald in April 2020 about how his writing evolved during these unprecedented times and, over the last year, LeFebre has participated in dozens of events, both in person and virtually, to offer readings, facilitate workshops and conferences, present keynote addresses, and was featured on camera with The Denver Channel.

In the coming year, LeFebre is working on a project granted by the American Academy of Poets where he will interview about 15 poets from across Colorado and will be featured on Rocky Mountain PBS by Summer 2022. He will travel to an Association of Writers and Writing Programs convening with other state poet laureates, and will open for the United States Poet Laureate, Joy Harjo, for a speaking event at the History Colorado Center. He also hopes to offer monthly drop-in “office hours” at local coffee shops to have conversations, share poetry and offer support to fellow artists. 

You can follow LeFebre’s work on his Instagram. 

As we begin another new year, and another year in a pandemic, we hope LeFebre’s words inspire hope in our fellow Coloradans: 

One day
the globe is spinning
we are smiling, or not
mundane or magic normalcy walks on two feet
autopilot guides our way
things are the way know them to be
New lovers braid their fingers together for the first time as the sun sets
The zocalo is full
The Mercado is loud and abundant
The city is a body living and breathing;
we go about our day
The cumpleañera blows out her birthday candles
We hug our grandmothers with reckless abandon
Every seat at the dinner table is full of friends and family
We are laughing
Mouths flung open
Words unapologetically traveling upon the wind
Vivacity abounds
The next day the globe stops
Together, we furrow our brow
Stumble off kilter
Our hearts become ticking timebombs
Panic begets panic
All of us running in place
The unknown tethers itself to our collective consciousness;
our psyche, a lone wolf howling at the moon
We retreat
Replace wings with worry
Trade the social for the solitary
Make an enemy of touch
Distance becomes our god
Six-feet apart running away from six-feet-under
We forget how to look each other in the eye
Survival becomes a dreary song we play on repeat
Hands chapped from reading one too many headlines
Then slowly, together,
we attempt to construct a new language
knowing words
like our leaders are failing us
We begin to speak in statistics
but here
the numbers are lives;
the percentages are people
Meanwhile, the curve is rising
The crescendo, a destination uncharted
The corporeal try and coax their jettisoned souls back into their bodies
And there are so many bodies
Blood, bones, flesh
Birthmarks, wrinkles, tattoos
Dimples, eyes, hearts
Existence is upended
A hemisphere uprooted
The earth confused by all the graves
here, where land is acknowledged
but never returned
Grief morphs into trauma
Collective mourning
Curses shouted toward the heavens
Candles lit where life should be
How did we become bygone?
We’ve all lost something
Found ourselves digging for unknown things
in places we have never been
Territory uncharted
Jutting emotions—a compass pointing in directions we have never traversed
Anguish operationalized
But he who has a why to live can bear almost any how
Let us return the circle
This holy hoop of hope that is unending
Let us lick each other’s wounds
Offer one another the medicine of mutual aid
Let our mourning morph into ritual
Let our grief be a tender mercy
Let these tears be libation
Let us become the altar
Something living
Something unfixed
Something capable of transforming
Let us be both the memory and the imagination
The stewards of bridging yesterday to tomorrow
Let us remember so that we never forget
And here,
atop this monument
this memorial embodied
we will learn to harness and activate our anger
Channel and transform our anxiety
we will exist unafraid to sit in our sadness
To allow for it fester until it transmutes into healing
Let our bruises become a balm
Let our gaping wounds be mouths that translate the pain;
It is ok to not be ok
Let us bathe in the brokenness
Evolve in the emptiness
Faith keeping us forward facing
And in this place we see, but have yet to arrive upon
let us create new meaning
social reconstruction in our hands
At this human memorial
At this monument in the flesh
Where we are the flowers
Where we are the prayers
Let us say and remember all of their names
Let us shout our own into the void so loudly
that the unborn waiting somewhere in the cosmos
will smile celestially and proud
And we will walk together across time and space
With understanding and empathy
Arms linked together
Experience endured
Healing and heard
And life will bend into tomorrow with promise
I promise


Show Post Date