For 100 years, Colorado has honored the power and connective potential of poetry, beginning when Gov. Oliver Shoup appointed Alice Polk Hill to the role of poet laureate in 1919. In that century there has never been a person of color in that role.
That changed with the July 23 announcement of Bobby LeFebre, who was selected by Gov. Jared Polis to take over for Joseph Hutchison. LeFebre will serve a four-year term as the state’s ninth laureate.
“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 in his announcement. “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 spoke to LeFebre about the power of the form, what it meant to be chosen as laureate and more:
Tell me about your background
I’ve been writing poetry for a long, long time — at least since my mid-teens, and I’m 37 now, which makes me the youngest laureate we’ve had.
I came into poetry through hip-hop culture, and in college started reading more poetry and learning about the American canon. I started competing in poetry slams, which took me all over country, and started performing at colleges and universities all over the country.
What keeps poetry a vital medium?
We’re seeing more poetry used in pop culture. Performance poetry really took off and is bringing it to a new generation of people who are digesting the form differently. People on Instagram can use it and get thousands of followers, and though some people really scoff at that, I think we can have an ivory tower and also have this new form of engagement.
How do you work?
I pay attention to what’s happening and why it’s happening — sometimes it’s internal things, the news, something to be celebrated, or to be used as a tool for social or political engagement. I follow the passion that happens naturally. It’s something that’s a part of me.
What is your role as poet laureate?
The poet laureate serves as an ambassador for poetry across the state, so I’ll be traveling to places for readings and workshops. I’m looking to get to places other laureates haven’t visited. I want to center and amplify marginalized voices and introduce, or reintroduce, poetry as something that’s accessible to all, can be woven into daily life, and find connections to people through it.
I’m honored to fill the post and serve as an advocate for poetry and engage with people all over the state about how they use it and how it can be used.
Learn more about LeFebre at www.bobbylefebre.com.
Clarke’s Concert of the Week — Dave Matthews Band at Fiddler’s Green
Even about 25 years after they released their debut, the Dave Matthews Band can still rock audiences back with their blend of rock, jazz and funk like few other touring groups.
As part of their 2019 tour, they’ll be spending two nights at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater, 6350 Greenwood Plaza Blvd. in Greenwood Village. Shows begin at 8 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 23 and Saturday, Aug. 24.
The band’s catalogue is deep enough that you’re guaranteed to hear some hits — could be “Crash Into Me,” “The Space Between,” “Ants Marching” or any of a dozen or so others.
Get tickets for the shows at www.fiddlersgreenamp.com.
Get a taste of mod style at National Western Complex
The 13th annual Denver Mod Show will be held from Friday, Aug. 23 through Sunday, Aug. 25 at the National Western Complex, 4655 Humboldt St. in Denver. The event celebrates furnishings, home decor, fashion, art and electronics from the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.
This year’s event features everything from The Tiki Bar and Atomic Glow-in-the-Dark radioactive lounge, to the Miss Modernism Pageant and neighborhood tours, and much more. The Sunday Afternoon Car Klub will also be on hand on Aug. 25 to host the annual Motorama Car Show featuring a plethora of category prizes and ribbons, leading up to the $200 cash prize and trophy for Best in Show.
For tickets and all the details, visit www.denver-mod.com.
Take a trip to the ‘Northside’
How does one pull in all the different voices and stories that make a neighborhood a home into one story?
“Northside” aims to do just that during its run at Su Teatro Cultural and Performing Arts Center, 721 Santa Fe Drive in Denver, from Friday, Aug. 23 through Sunday, Aug. 25.
The show is directed by Hugo Carbajal and provides insight about the spirit of the northside neighborhood, how the dynamics of neighborhoods change, and the need to belong somewhere.
Get tickets at www.suteatro.org.
Clarke Reader’s column on culture appears on a weekly basis. He can be reached at Clarke.Reader@hotmail.com.
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