May 5, 2020 is a new international day for supporting nonprofits affected by the COVID-19 crisis— #GivingTuesdayNOW

Fury by Hayle

Read a wonderful poem written in only three minutes by Hayle, a 16-year-old creative genius at Endeavor Academy in Arapahoe County…

The Colorado Sun

Colorado Sun Article

Thank you to poet, activist and Art from Ashes board member Theo E.J. Wilson for this wonderful piece in The Colorado Sun!

The Colorado Sun

Poetry program helps inner city kids navigate their way past depression and suicidal thoughts


Writing Prompt-Defying Gravity

Set a timer for three minutes and write without thinking or editing until the time is up! Here’s a prompt to help you get started…

World Denver Youth Workshops

Each year World Denver partners with Art from Ashes to present our program to dignitaries around the world, including the Philippines, Great Britain, Malaysia and other nations. We also are privileged to provide workshops for the Iraqi Youth Delegation.

The Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IYLEP) for high school students and adult mentors is a program sponsored and funded by the U.S. Embassy, Baghdad and U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Youth Programs Division. Through IYLEP, participants can develop skills in leadership and civic engagement through workshops as well as build mutual understanding between the people of Iraq and the U.S. through homestays.

My Voice Is
By Tava

My voice is stuck
Between the real self
And the person I want to be
Who is the person I want to be?
It’s the person people want to see

A person that keeps quiet
A person that society wants
A person who ‘behaves’

Could the self be defined
Without society’s standards?
Is there such a thing
As the self?
With the personalities
And looks
That society has taught us?

If I grew in the mountains, the trees,
Next to the water
Would I have been louder?

Catherine O’Neill Thorn Honored As A Westword Colorado Creative

100 Colorado Creatives are chosen by journalist and artist Susan Froyd for the Westword honor and published on their site (below). You can read the Executive Director of AfA’s thoughtful and often irreverant ideas on the state of the arts in Colorado and her personal motivations and inspiration for her work. Susan’s Facebook post is also linked below.

Click here for the story in Westword

Click here for the Facebook post

2018 Westword Article

Catherine O'Neill Thorn is a Colorado Creatives in all the best ways, as an eloquent writer, speaker and poet, as well…

Posted by Susan Froyd on Monday, December 3, 2018

ROTG Recap

Running of the Gays flyerby Boone Riddle

High heels and high spirits, open hearts and open bar tabs, tears and twerking, performance and passion. At the intersection of activism and celebration, where vulnerable expression and raunchy comedy are served up in spades, where dedicated warriors pour out their souls as they pour another cocktail—THIS is Running of the Gays. 

The 9th Annual Running of the Gays once again put on this faux marathon in heels to highlight the brilliance of our youth. A silly event with the serious purpose of supporting empowerment workshops for queer youth.  

Our 2018 event was both a familiar family reunion, and a leap forward for our organization. Our incredible youth poets captivated the audience with open, raw, and frequently hilarious expressions of their struggles and their victories. Other performers threw down sultry musical performances as the crowd cheered and tipped and begged for more. However they chose to express themselves, the showcase of talent from our youth performers was a powerful, tangible display of their hearts—and AfA’s work to facilitate their transformation.

Running of the Gays continues to gain visibility with local media, community, and supporters. Many new faces joined the team and gave their all to make this event happen. Running of the Gays was even featured on the FOX31 network! Our incredible network of staff, volunteers, and donors is stronger than ever. Planning for next year’s Running of the Gays is already underway! This is all made possible by your support for Art from Ashes. Thank you. We’ll see you at the 10th Annual Running of the Gays next year!

Thank you to our 2018 sponsors!

Ace Eat Serve



Fleur Salon

X Bar

The Bank of Denver

Charlie's Nightclub Denver

Pizzeria Locale

For some hilarious photos and videos of the event, check out our Facebook page:

Writing Prompt-I am a poet

Set a timer for three minutes and write without thinking or editing until the time is up! Here’s a prompt to help you get started…

Youth Interview-Desmond

An interview with 20-year-old Desmond Dukes, AfA workshop participant and guest poet 

by Anna Ingraham

Anna: How did you first get involved with AfA?

Desmond: Well, that’s a funny, mysterious story. My friend and I were riding the H-train to 16th street downtown, when we noticed an RTD guy walking up the isle scanning train passes. We didn’t pay for passes! So we hurried and exited at the next stop, which happened to be 10th and Osage. I walked around for a little and was drawn in by the Art from Ashes poster. Then, I found out about the weekly art workshops, and have been popping up there ever since. I like to think the universe guided me there that day.

Anna: So it sounds like you’ve mostly been to the drop-in workshops. What has been your experience with those? 

Desmond: Well, it’s really nice having a community of people to come spend time with. All of my family is back in Texas, so having a group of people to create with really helps me to not feel lonely. I love all of the different things we create! I have magnets and banners and paintings throughout my house now that all remind me of AfA. I try to go to both (the poetry and art workshops) as often as possible. 

Anna: I’m glad it’s been such a good experience for you! Were you an artist and writer before AfA? 

Desmond: I was an artist and writer before AfA. I was writing stories in English class and looking up words in the thesaurus to find words that better fit the picture I was trying to paint. This translated into my music skills later. Around my freshman year, a friend asked me to freestyle with him, and I found I was actually pretty good! So I went from story writing to eventually poetry and rapping and singing over beats I found on Soundcloud and Youtube. Being in choir and percussion taught me rhythm and helped me to find my distinct sound. 

Anna: How has being a guest poet for AfA been for you?

Desmond: I really like the experience of being impactful to high school kids, because I remember when I was in high school, and I just know how influential a message can be. It’s very rare that people can be influential these days, and I know that I can be a positive impact. I want youth to know that they don’t have to give in to the social norm. It’s okay to love yourself! You can just be yourself, and everything’s going to be okay. You don’t have to fit in just to get more followers. When you don’t have a lot of followers because you’re being yourself, those who are following you are doing so because they genuinely like you and care about your work.

Anna: That is such an important message! Do you think that you’re going to continue being a guest poet?

Desmond: I definitely think that I will as long as I’m in Colorado. I really like the AfA community, and anything that I can do to be a part of it, I’m more than willing. 

Anna: Do you feel like creating art, writing, and music has helped you embrace yourself more fully?

Desmond: I feel like creation is a way for us to see what our minds look like, and to hear what our thoughts sound like. You don’t have to try, everyone just exists in a different way. Creating is a very good way to find yourself as an individual. 

Anna: What do you see yourself doing in the future?

Desmond: Eventually, I want to go to school to become a counselor of some sort. I think that I’m very good at talking to people and observing their problems objectively. I feel like I would be good at helpingkids to see what’s causing their problems. A lot of methods these days, instead of finding the root of the problem, kind of just suppress it. I want them to be aware that everything they experience has a reason behind it. 

Anna: It sounds like you’re really passionate about this work. Do you think that the arts will continue to be a part of your life as you move towards a counseling career?

Desmond: I feel as if when I do help people with counseling, I’ll probably sing to them and help them to bring out their inner voice. I believe that everyone can sing, you just have to find out where your range is. I’ll help people to draw, because it’s not about if it looks cool, it’s about learning about yourself. I think I’ll be that kind of counselor and I really feel like I’ll effect peoples daily lives. 

Anna: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me! We are lucky to have you involved with us at AfA! 

Recently I bought a synthesizer(basically a piano) and a looper pedal, and I’ve been practicing adding layers on eachother. Eventually I want to get to a point where I perform live with it. I hope you enjoy this recording I did on my phone of a song I’m in the works of orchestrating. Never forget to shine your light☀️

🕯 sʜɪɴᴇ ʏᴏᴜʀ ʟɪɢʜᴛ 🕯

Poem written by Desmond in three minutes:


In this time day and age of a government suppression
many minds are confused, many people conjure questions
and though they tell you the answer’s simple, small, flat, and green
i’m here to share with you it’s not as simple as it seems
shoving products in your face to keep you always wanting more
keep you always wanting money, keep you knocking at their door
no it’s not a fucking want, its a motherfuckin’ NEED
their method of control is individuality and greed
and you think im fuckin’ crazy, don’t think i know just how i sound?
but if you look a little closer, then these words will be profound
there’s no need for feeling empty and no need for feeling down
everything possesses beauty if you take a look around
for the primary function of the universe is love
from the atoms made within us to the galaxies above
all the legs, fins, wings, plants, underneath the sun
all are infinite in unity, all a spirit of one


Brian Smith Pastry Chef

Pastries and Poetry

With all that extra time at home, perhaps you’ve binge watched several seasons of The Great British Baking Show and are ready to try your hand at making a trifle that would earn you a Hollywood Handshake. We’ve got the perfect event, just for you (complete with youth poetry performances, too)!

Mark your calendars! Tuesday, September 22nd at 5 pm, Art from Ashes is hosting Pastries and Poetry, a delicious virtual event that you DO NOT want to miss!

Learn to bake a delicious dessert with Brian Smith, Pastry Chef for the TAG Restaurant Group, from the comfort of your own kitchen. While your creations are baking away, our youth will bless your lil’ chef ears with poetry and spoken word PLUS you’ll even get to hear from several local guest poets!

Plus PLUS you’ll be supporting our mission to empower struggling youth with creative expression all in one fun, sugar-filled evening!

What a Tuesday!

Donations start at only $35 (we’ll even provide ingredients for just a little more) —hurry and get ’em because they’re selling like HOT CAKES! ha.

Click here link to purchase your tickets ASAP!

Pastries and Poetry

Pastries and Poetry Part Deux

Pastries and Poetry

In a different kind of workshop, our second Pastries and Poetry virtual event will be held Tuesday, November 24th from 7 to 8:30pm. (For those who donated to a previous invitation, you don’t need to reserve another spot.) We’ll once again feature Brian Smith, Pastry Chef with FNG, and our very own, Laura Peña. Brian has more than 15 years experience in the pastry and restaurant biz and is donating his time to provide an entertaining spin on how to bake a PECAN PIE right in your own home. There will be youth performances during baking time, and you’ll get to learn a little more about what Art from Ashes does.

A $35 donation gets you a spot to join in the fun. A Zoom link will be sent to you in your confirmation email after signing up. A list of ingredients you will need on hand is under Details.

Please let us know when you RSVP if you have dietary restrictions and/or preferences so that we can work with you to accommodate them.

Thank you for supporting the work that Art from Ashes is doing for their community. We’ll see you in your kitchen soon! Register here!

Strawberry Cheesecake

Pastries and Poetry part 3

Did someone say strawberry cheesecake? You bet!

Laura Pena and Chef BrianIt’s the third event in our Pastries and Poetry series presented by Chef Brian Smith, coming to you just in time for Valentine’s Day. Click the link to reserve your spot for Monday, February 8th at 6pm MST and treat yourself to this first taste of spring with a [suggested] $35 donation that goes directly to our youth empowerment programs. You’ll hear some incredible youth poets perform as you create your very own edible art. We are berry excited, and hope you are too!

A suggested $35 donation gets you a spot to join in the fun. But if you can’t donate that much, please choose your amount and join us to support the youth poets by listening to their voices!

See below for a list of ingredients.

Please let us know when you RSVP if you have dietary restrictions and/or preferences so that we can work with you to accommodate them.

Thank you for supporting the work that Art from Ashes is doing for their community. We’ll see you in your kitchen soon!

Tools you’ll need:

10-inch Cake Pan
Kitchenmaid Mixer or Hand Mixer
Rubber Spatula
Small/Medium Pot
Sheet Pan/Cookie Sheet big enough to hold cake pan
Pan Spray

Graham Cracker Crust
12 oz (1.5 cups) graham cracker crumbs
3 oz (1/2 cups) melted butter
6 oz (3/4 cups) sugar
½ tsp Salt
Cheesecake Filling
1 pound (4 cups) cream cheese, room temp
5 oz (10 tbsp) Sugar
3 eggs
12 oz (1.5 cup) sour cream
2 oz (6 tbsp) flour
Strawberry Compote
1 pound strawberries
12 oz (1.5 cups) water
2 oz (4 tbsp) sugar
½ oz (2 tsp) cornstarch


Strawberry Cheesecake

First Friday

First Friday Youth Phoenix Rising Workshop

FOR YOUTH (12 to 24)

YOU ARE A CREATIVE GENIUS! Come share your voice with us and others every first friday of the month at the First Friday spoken word & poetry workshops, now happening virtually.

Prior to April of last year, First Fridays were celebrated in person at Art from Ashes in Denver. Due to the pandemic we’ve had to move online, but that means we’ve been able to have young people attend from all over the globe!

ALSO you get to hear one of our amazing performance poets from the community do a piece just for you!

Join us from wherever you are every First Friday and let your voice be heard!

Contact the Director of Programs here.

Did we mention we pay our youth poets when you perform? See you on Friday! 🙋🏼‍♀️

First Friday Youth Poetry Performance

Laura and Daniella First Friday on Instagram

Laura Peña and youth poet Daniella First Friday on Instagram


Join us every First Friday for youth spoken word performances via Instagram @afaphoenix between 6 and 6.30 pm.

Show support for the young people who participate in our Phoenix Rising youth empowerment program. Listen as youth poets ages 12 to 24 tell their stories in metaphor through poems written in only 3 minutes.

Much more than a public performance, youth gather through a Zoom workshop at 5pm for a FREE one-hour Phoenix Rising writing and performance workshop, featuring a local performance poet. All youth are welcome.

Go here for more details or contact Director of Programs email hidden; JavaScript is required for more information.

Unfamiliar with Instagram? Here’s our handy dandy cheat sheet:

How to Instagram

virtual workshop promo

Phoenix Rising Wednesdays

FOR YOUTH (12 to 24)


Each week on Wednesday at 4pm, when we used to host our Phoenix Rising on-site workshops, Art from Ashes provides a series of FREE writing prompts for youth on Zoom with a featured performance poet/musician from the community!

You don’t have to think you’re a poet, we already know you’re a creative genius. Come and speak your truth with other youth!

If you are between the age of 12 and 24, please contact our Director of Programs to reserve a spot and get the info for Zoom.