Meet Colorado’s New Poet Laureate: University College Alumnus Bobby LeFebre
As his email signature will tell you, Bobby LeFebre is many things — word architect, performer and cultural worker, to name just a few.
And as of July, he’s Colorado’s eighth poet laureate. But he’s certainly not a literary eminence out of central casting.
You won’t find his works splayed on a page inside a bound volume lost on a shelf. And he’s not a wordsmith who versifies between hushed readings before small circles of aficionados.
Instead, he’s a spoken-word artist whose works you’ll hear and feel as they pulsate around a packed auditorium. He’s a University College alumnus whose YouTube clips and social media posts you’ll populate with expressive emojis. And at 37, he’s the state’s youngest poet laureate ever — not to mention its first poet laureate of color.
“I was pretty excited that the governor and the selection team decided to do something different,” Bobby says. “I think poets laureate of the past — not only here but in cities all over the nation — have traditionally been [drawn from] a small representation of what constitutes poetry and what poetry can mean. To take it from this heady academic tradition to a newer aesthetic and approach, I thought was very bold.”
Bobby is still figuring out just how he wants his four-year term as laureate to unfold, but his plans all hinge on inclusivity.
“I want to center, elevate and amplify marginalized voices — voices that have traditionally been left out of this position, voices that have not been reached, stories that have been undertold,” he says.
By the time Bobby enrolled at DU in the Arts and Culture Management program, he had emerged as a driving force in Denver’s alternative poetry scene, winning major slam poetry awards and founding Café Cultura, a nonprofit cultivating the creative voices of youths from Latino and indigenous populations.
Bobby credits a lot of his occupational dexterity — “I am a rare mix of artist, arts administrator and culture worker,” he says — to University College. For one thing, he studied with outgoing poet laureate Joseph Hutchison, who also serves as the academic director for the Professional Creative Writing and Arts and Culture Management programs. For another, he embraced opportunities to hone his skills in arts administration and promotion. By the time he graduated in 2013, he had learned to be a better wordsmith and a better advocate and activist.
“I wear many hats in culture, and the program was designed in a way in which I was able to further my education in all those different areas,” Bobby said. “I want to use this position to bring others along on this crazy journey.”
Learn more about our arts and writing programs at universitycollege.du.edu.
Story by Tamara Chapman | Photo by Amanda Piela