Government & Politics  September 8, 2023

Boulder poet named next poet laureate for state

BOULDER — Boulder author and poet Andrea Gibson has been named as the new Colorado Poet Laureate.

The appointment came by way of Gov. Jared Polis through the Colorado Creative Industries division of the Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Gibson will succeed Bobby LeFrebre. Gibson is a queer activist, author and slam poet, and will serve as poet laureate for the next two years.

“Andrea Gibson is an inspiring Colorado artist. Colorado’s Poet Laureate is an ambassador of the arts and someone who can truly share talents while inspiring the artistic abilities within ourselves,” Polis said in making the announcement. “Andrea’s voice holds a fierce conviction in inspiring others to pursue art and take action toward solving social issues and they personify our Colorado for All spirit. I know Andrea will be a strong advocate for the arts and art education as a way to bring us together, has a strong desire for unity and to bring people together through poetry.

“I want to thank Bobby for four years of service. When Bobby was appointed to this position, he embraced it fully. And over the past four years, he has represented our state and the arts better than we could’ve ever imagined.”

The Poet Laureate serves as an advocate for poetry, literacy, and literature by participating in readings and other events at schools, libraries, literary festivals, and the state Capitol. Gibson will also provide the governor with an annual account of the impact and success of the Colorado Poet Laureate program and prepare a poem for the opening of the legislative session upon request.

“We are very excited with the governor’s selection of Andrea Gibson as the new Poet Laureate. … Andrea has an incredible ability to unite people through artistic expression. We look forward to working with Andrea during the next two years,” said Eve Lieberman, OEDIT’s executive director.

Gibson, a four-time Denver Grand Slam Champion, centers work around a range of topics including LGBTQIA+ issues, spirituality, feminism, mental health, gun reform, and the dismantling of oppressive systems. 

“An artist’s job is to redirect awe, astonishment, and wonder back into people, something we were born with but culture takes out of us as we grow older,” Gibson said. 

Gibson’s work has been influenced by a treatment for ovarian cancer two years ago. “I spent so much time writing about what was wrong with the world; now I write about what I dream the world can be.” 

Colorado was among the first states to have a Poet Laureate when Gov. Oliver Shoup appointed Alice Polk Hill in 1919. Since then eight other people have served: Nellie Burget Miller (1923-1952), Margaret Clyde Robertson (1952-1954), Milford E. Shields (1954), Thomas Hornsby Ferril (1979-1988), Mary Crow (1996-2010), David Mason (2010-2014), Joseph Hutchison (2014-2018), and Bobby LeFebre (2019-2023).

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