Bobby LeFebre, state poet laureate, to speak at ACC

Poet seeks to elevate marginalized voices in free talk

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Colorado's Poet Laureate will speak at Arapahoe Community College on March 4, and he hopes he's not the only one.

“My work lends itself to conversation,” said Bobby LeFebre, who was named the state's poetic ambassador in 2019. “A lot of my work is focused on cultural and social issues. I want people to love it and hate it.”

At 37, LeFebre is the state's youngest-ever poet laureate, and the first person of color to hold the title. He said he hopes to use the position to focus on marginalized voices.

LeFebre believes other young poets of color were qualified to hold the title before him, but weren't chosen. “That speaks to institutional and structural racism about what poetry means, who it's for, and how it's honored and celebrated. I want to lift up the voices who aren't always heard.”

LeFebre said he's not coming to ACC with a particular plan.

“It depends how I'm feeling that day or what's going on in the world. Every poetry set is different. People in the audience influence it.”

LeFebre's goals speak to poetry's history, said ACC English professor Jamey Trotter, who is hosting the event as part of the Writers Studio program he spearheads with professor Andrea Mason.

“Poetry allows you to criticize conventions of poetry you wouldn't otherwise,” Trotter said. “Some people see it as an elitist genre, but really it's among the most accessible and ancient forms of writing and speaking. It begs to be read aloud.”

The reading is a chance for people who don't typically attend poetry readings to expose themselves to challenging ideas, Trotter said, and maybe write some poetry themselves.

“You can write good poetry,” Trotter said. “It doesn't have to be the sappy stuff we wrote in high school. Artists and poets can effect change.”

LeFebre is also a good example for young poets, Trotter said, citing LeFebre's degree from Metropolitan State University of Denver.

“He comes from a humble background,” Trotter said. “From a teacher's standpoint, I can say, 'This can happen to you if you work hard and care enough.'”

LeFebre said the time is right for young people looking to express themselves through poetry.

“There's a resurgence of interest in poetry,” LeFebre said. “People are experiencing it in new ways. It should always be evolving as we and technology evolve. We relegated poetry to books, but we can find it in songs or old family recipes. It's creating a connection between things that don't seem to be connected. Poetry is a worldview. We'll talk about whatever comes up.”

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