For the past two years, Daniel’s Place (DP), a drop-in center for transitional age youth experiencing homelessness, has been home to Speak Out, a monthly writing workshop. Volunteers Lindsay and Jason Blakely brought the group to DP to encourage writing and expression through the art of poetry. “We simply wanted to share the beauty of poetry with our neighbors. It’s amazing how it has the ability to grab people.”

At each workshop, two poems with a similar theme from two different authors are read and discussed. Recently the theme was “waiting” and featured pieces by Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen. The members then write something of their own on the same theme, expressing themselves in any form they like: a tweet, a rap, a poem, or a letter. Those who are willing read aloud their work.

“We really do see the full gamut of expressions. We’re always so impressed by their on-the-spot free-styling, creativity, and willingness to be vulnerable.” says Lindsay. “What struck us the most is that they respond to the beauty of poetry as much as we do. There are so many other things the members could be doing, but they choose to participate and are inspired to take the risk to create something and share it. In this workshop we are all the same.”