We started the Poet Laureate program in 2011 to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of poetry in Fort Collins. Each year we accept nominations from the public, and a panel of local poets and writers choose the top candidates which are then put to a public vote. The Poet Laureate hosts free monthly workshops, readings, and other community events. To be eligible, poets must live in Fort Collins, and be willing to serve the community in the name of poetry. Past poet laureates have held readings, published poems, visited schools, and led workshops. The current poet will serve from July 2020 – July 2022, and will be involved in the selection of the next poet laureate. The current poet received a $250 honorarium supported by the Jason Sheppard Greer and Lucy Kim Greer Foundation for the Arts.


2024-2026 Poet Laureate

Melissa Mitchell

Our Current Poet Laureate is Melissa Mitchell. Melissa has been a Fort Collins community member for over 20 years and has a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from Colorado State University. As a long-time writer and collaborator, Melissa strives to build community through creativity. Her focus is on the curious and tender analysis of feeling that opens the door to meaningful connection and understanding and heals the untended spaces of the heart and mind. She finds inspiration in the scenic eco-magic of our philosophical and natural world and believes in the urgent and absolute truth of Mary Oliver’s instructions on living: “Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.”

Goal as Poet Laureate

As poet laureate, Melissa sees her role as contributing to the deconstruction of barriers to self-expression, facilitating the transition toward more fruitful connectivity, and spreading the word that the only way out is through it all. You can find Melissa’s work in 2024 Ocean Anthology by Kelp Journal, Mother Nature is Burning eco-poetry anthology, Scrapped Magazine, and Gulo Gulo Magazine. Find out about upcoming opportunities for connection, fun interdisciplinary projects, poetry workshops, and maybe even immersive guerilla art in nature walks by following her on Instagram (ig: @dontuchme).

Previous Poets Laureate