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

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