Allan is a past National Sonnet Slam Champion.
9) Allan can recite hundreds of poems from memory.
8) Allan did not like school.
7) Allan has a pet chicken named Atilla the Hen.
6) Allan has two goldfish named Lewis and Clark.
5) Allan plays drums with a band called The Dead
4) Allan never watches television. (He doesn’t
even own one!)
3) To relax Allan plays guitar or juggles.
2) Allan dreams of one day living in a house with
a secret room.
1) Allan can ride a skateboard standing on his
Wolf, General Biography
Wolf is an author, poet, performer and educator
who lives in Asheville, North Carolina with his
wife and three kids. After three years teaching
at Virginia Tech, Wolf became the Educational
Director for Poetry Alive!, a national touring
company that presents theatrical poetry shows
for all ages. Wolf is also a member of The Dead
Poets, a musical trio who transform classic poetry
into toe-tapping tunes. An active organizer in
the early days of the poetry slam competitions,
Wolf’s mission has always been to take poetry
to the people. His home town made history in 1995
as the smallest city to ever win the coveted National
Poetry Slam Championship title. Wolf now writes
and presents full time. His books include The
Blood-Hungry Spleen and Other Poems About Our
Parts (Candlewick Press), and New Found
Land: Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery
(Candlewick Press), a novel in verse chosen as
a School Library Journal Best Book, an ALA Best
Book for Young Adults, and an IRA Children’s
Book Award Notable. He is the author of a book
about writing poems titled, Immersed In Verse:
An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally
Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet’s Life
(Lark Books) and a new YA novel in verse titled
Zane’s Trace (Candlewick Press).
Conducting more than one hundred presentations
every year, Allan Wolf is a veteran traveler through
all the diverse worlds of verse from poetry slams
to public schools, salons to saloons. And with
literally hundreds of poems committed to memory,
Wolf is always ready to spin out a stanza or two.
Storrs, CT, February 26, 1963
Beeks Elementary School, Blacksburg, VA
Middle School, Blacksburg, VA
High School, Blacksburg, VA
Tech (BA,MA English), Blacksburg, VA
Instructor (Writing and
Composition), Virginia Tech
Co-director, Poetry Alive!
Summer Institute for Teachers
Keynote Presenter, Janet
Allen Content Literacy Institutes
Over 100 presentations,
workshops, and in-services annually
Favorite Things in My Youth:
track, snakes, tarantulas, friends, snow days,
girls, music, and writing on my bedroom walls.
wife and three children, reading, writing, drawing,
basketball, music, books, and sleeping.
Wolf - Author. Poet. Performer. Educator. Person.
Wolf, the Author. Allan’s published
works include two books for teachers, an illustrated
book of poems for kids, a how-to book for aspiring
poets, a poetry chapbook, and a historical novel
in verse. His seventh book, a verse novel for
young adults, is due out soon. Allan’s writing
has earned many honors, including a School Library
Journal Best Book, an ALA Best Book for Young
Adults, and an IRA Children’s Book Award
Notable. His books of poetry have been selected
by Scholastic Book Club, Scholastic Book Fair,
and the Children’s Book of the Month Club.
Wolf was also a finalist for the Southeastern
Booksellers’ Association Poetry Award.
Wolf, the Poet. Wolf writes poems in
a variety of styles and for a variety of audiences.
His poems for children are carefully crafted and
full of wonder. His children’s poems never
preach, but celebrate kids for who they naturally
are—good and bad. His poems for young adults
and grown-ups tackle more complex themes. The
people who populate Wolf’s poems live normal
lives, yet to Wolf they are the heroes and heroines
who make our Earth turn. With uncompromising wit
and warmth, Wolf’s poetry illuminates the
beauty and absurdity of being human.
Wolf, the Performer. Wolf’s unique
performance style results from his varied influences.
He possesses the edgy intensity of a slam poet,
the intellectual sensibility of an academic poet,
the theatrical showmanship of an actor, and the
aw-shucks ease of an Appalachian storyteller.
Add to this a musicality drawn from his long tenure
with The Dead Poets, the popular band that transforms
classic poems into toe-tapping tunes. Wolf views
performance the same way he views writing, as
a craft to be mastered. Years of training and
experience enable him to hold the attention of
Wolf, the Educator. Allan’s stage
savvy is complemented by his experience and skill
in the classroom. After earning his Master’s
Degree in English, he taught writing at Virginia
Tech, where he received the Richard L. Hoffman
Teaching Award. He left this teaching position
to join the poem performance troupe, Poetry Alive!,
allowing him to travel the country visiting hundreds
of schools and working with literally thousands
of students from Pre-K to College. He served for
fourteen years as co-director of Poetry Alive!’s
Summer Institute for Teachers. Since leaving Poetry
Alive!, Wolf writes and presents full time.
Wolf, the Person. Allan was born February
26, 1963, raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains,
and now lives in Asheville, NC. He is the father
of three children. His pets include four chickens,
two turtles, and a bearded dragon. His favorite
things to do: reading, writing, playing music
(drums and guitar), skateboarding, shootin’
hoops, and traveling.
I wrote poetry at a very early age, my life as
a writer officially began on April 12, 1975 just
after my twelfth birthday. That was the day I
began to write on my bedroom walls. I started
small, writing the date lightly in pencil, behind
the bed where it couldn’t be seen. It felt
good. It gave me a feeling of peace and relief,
as if I had just scratched a really urgent itch.
A few days later I wrote some more. I gradually
began using permanent markers and writing out
in the open where the words were in full view.
I wrote words and phrases, poetry and pictures.
I wrote deep thoughts and shallow nonsense. My
walls became a diary upon which I recorded the
events of my life. I wrote on my walls every day
for years until my room had become one huge continual
tattoo of words and pictures that spread over
all four walls, the ceiling, the floor, even some
of the furniture.
earned my Master’s degree in English at
Virginia Tech and taught college composition there
for a while. I left the classroom to join a traveling
troupe of poets and actors that performed poetry
as theatre in schools all over the United States.
My many years with Poetry Alive! showed me a side
of poetry that I never saw in graduate school.
Because of my experiences in school and with Poetry
Alive!, it was only natural that I became an author
of books for young people.
first book for kids, The Blood-Hungry Spleen and
Other Poems About Our Parts, was inspired by a
sixth grade life science class project I saw while
working as an artist-in-residence at a school
in Seoul, Korea. The kids created an anatomy chart
of the human body by writing poems about all the
various parts. On the long plane trip back to
the U.S., I began writing. Because I consider
myself a life-long learner, I like to write books
that require some amount of research. My interest
in American history led me to write a novel in
verse about the Lewis and Clark expedition, New
Found Land. If I really want to learn about something,
I write a book about it.
usually write by hand onto pads of paper. Then
I type it all in later. I type very quickly and
very inaccurately. I use an Apple MacBook Pro.
With three kids and deadlines to meet, I’ve
gotten pretty good at just plopping down anywhere
and getting to work. But my best writing usually
requires quiet and solitude. I converted my garage
into an office where I am surrounded by wall-to-wall
books. My office has a desk for writing, a sitting
area for reading, and a “play space”
for juggling, memorizing poems, playing the trombone,