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I’d been chatting with Catherine O’Neill Thorn for a few minutes when Marie Verrett stepped in to join us.”Would you like to hear a poem?” Marie asked, and without any hesitation launched into a piece from one of the organizations young wordsmiths, Ricardo. “This one’s my favorite,” she explained as she sat up and drew a focused smile across her face, “it’s called The Dance My Father Taught Me and it goes like this.”

You were teaching me how to dance as a dad,
like how not to take certain steps.
But once I took a wrong step
and stepped on your foot by saying no to you.
You quickly hit me,
so my mom left you.
Now my mom is teaching me how to dance,
and I want to tell you,
she is more swift on her feet.
I don’t have to listen all day just to learn one step.
She shows me where I should step,
and she taught me the steps you could never teach me—
how to be a real man.
She taught me every dance by herself.
She taught me the waltz, the salsa and the man dance.

It’s an elegant piece, and it’s even more impressive when you consider that Ricardo is twelve years old and he wrote it in under three minutes with almost no previous poetic experience. Art from Ashes has an immense talent for taking people who have little or no experience writing poetry and reminding them that they were born as creative geniuses. Every person that completes a workshop leaves with a poem, often an astounding one, and certainly one that speaks from the heart and gets to the root of a struggle they face, and AFA’s hundreds of prompts ensure that writer’s block is never an issue. It is therapeutic and empowering, and has been shown again and again to help kids find peace in difficult situations.

To meet Catherine and Marie, take a look at the video below. Their energy and dedication are infectious, and you may just be inspired to write a quick piece of your own.

If you are interested in discovering your own creative genius, visit www.artfromashes.org and find a workshop that fits your schedule. They are always looking for volunteers, and opportunities are available on the site as well.

To meet more remarkable local leaders like Catherine and Marie, visit www.friendsofbeanstalk.org, where there are always new opportunities to get involved in incredible community projects. Follow us on Facebook to stay current with the great things happening in Denver and beyond.

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