I enjoy meeting the young people who read my books. I have been making author visits and presentations for years in schools, libraries, young author celebrations, and teaching conferences. The video below shows me in action with elementary school and family audiences. I alter presentation content and style to accommodate the older audiences. The presentation descriptions below are a starting point. If you have a different vision, we can discuss it.
Meanwhile, if you are interested in booking me for an appearance, please send me an email using the contact page.
READ THIS BEFORE YOU HIRE ME
A personal note from Allan Wolf
I take my duties seriously and I show up prepared. Whether I’m doing an assembly show, a small workshop, an author visit, or a keynote talk, I begin every presentation with a clear idea of where I’m going and how I’ll get there. I am a dynamic speaker and a skilled presenter with 25 years of experience in the “business.” My presentations are entertaining and educational, and that, I suppose, makes me an entertainer and an educator. All that said, I am first and foremost a poet. I believe that poetry is the portal to imagination and that imagination is the portal to innovative thinking. And at the risk of freaking you out, I believe that poetry is the portal to enlightenment, both personal and global. In short, I believe that poetry is more important than target competencies, educational objectives, and pedagogical standards.
WHAT ALL OF ALLAN WOLF’S ASSEMBLY SHOWS HAVE IN COMMON
Allan performs poetry from memory mixing traditions of theatre, slam-style spoken word, and Appalachian storytelling. His set is minimal, usually just a simple table and chair. Occasionally he may include a power point presentation with projector and screen. He typically opens with a high energy introductory poem, followed by a montage of shorter pieces in a wide variety of styles and subjects. Then he’ll speak to the audience informally between clusters of poems connected by theme. One moment he will whisper a heart-felt story in verse. The next moment he will transform himself into a hungry Tyrannosaur driving a Volkswagen. He will rattle off a hip-hop piece and segue into a quiet sonnet. Then he’ll pick up his guitar to add background to his spoken words, or sing a song about Emily Dickinson or Edgar Allan Poe. And from beginning to end, Wolf gradually reveals the mission he is on, urging audience members to see their world with a poet’s eyes. Although all presentations have some participation, elementary and family shows usually contain more participation and call & response. ALL PRESENTATIONS feature Allan’s books in some way and contain a mixture of his own work and poems written by other poets.
The descriptions below are general. Allan may combine elements of different presentations as necessary, and reserves the right to alter a presentation based on the audience’s needs in the heat of the poetic moment.
IMMERSED IN VERSE: DIVING INTO POETRY
(6-8, 9-12, Family, General, or Adult)
Immersed in Verse: Diving Into Poetry is the general name of Allan’s spoken word, poetry performance presentation for older audiences. With hundreds of poems committed to memory, he adapts this presentation’s content based on each audience and occasion. Allan plays some music and recites poetry like a storyteller. Even older audiences can find themselves becoming part of the presentation. Wolf is aware that most audiences contain future (or practicing) poets, so he makes a point of speaking about the joys of writing and living the poet’s life. Immersed in Verse typically contains one or more of the following “lessons:” The Po-Folk vs The NO-PO;The Lesson of the Wire Coat Hanger (Po-folk transform the ordinary into the extraordinary); The Lesson of the Baby (Po-folk see their world as if seeing it for the first time); The Lesson of the Maple Syrup (Po-folk gather sap and boil it down to something sweet); The Lesson of the Bedroom Walls (Po-folk write themselves into existence). This presentation typically requires the host to provide a digital projector and a screen appropriate to the size of the audience.
ALLAN WOLF’S POETRY PALOOZA
(K-2, 3-5, K-5, Families)
Live high-energy literary entertainment, Poetry Palooza, is designed with family or elementary school audiences in mind. Award-winning author, Allan Wolf has been presenting poetry shows to audiences of all ages for twenty-five years. With literally hundreds of poems committed to memory, Allan plays music and recites poetry like a storyteller. Poetry Palooza introduces young readers to four important elements of poetry: Rhyme, Rhythm, Music, and Story. Audience members become an important part of the show through call-and-response, participation—even joining him on stage to bring the poetry to life. The name of this presentation can be altered to suit the needs of the occasion: Summer Reading Poetry Palooza; Family Poetry Palooza; A/B Honor Roll Poetry Palooza; Literacy Night Poetry Palooza; etc.
VOICES FROM THE TITANIC: EXPLORING HISTORY THROUGH A POET’S EYES
(3-5, 6-12, family, adult)
More than a century after the doomed luxury ocean liner sank to the bottom of the north Atlantic, the iconic story of the RMS Titanic continues to capture imaginations young and old. Now author and poet, Allan Wolf, feeds that insatiable interest with an engaging presentation based on his award-winning book, The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic.
Wolf immerses his audience in the world of 1912 through historical photographs, documents, costumes, and props. He engages his audience through storytelling, music and poetry. And he involves his audience through participation and readers’ theatre, transforming his listeners into Titanic passengers and crew of every rank and class. Even a ship rat and the iceberg itself come to life.
Using a five-foot-long Titanic model “puppet” Wolf demonstrates how the ship was constructed, struck ice, broke in half, and then sank. Wolf addresses Titanic myths (was Captain Smith drinking?), facts (why were there four smoke stacks?), and trivia (how many dogs were aboard?”. But Wolf spends equal time addressing the ship’s “human cargo.” John Astor, the “richest” man in the world. Margaret “The Unsinkable Molly” Brown. Frankie Goldsmith, a nine year old boy. Fredrick Fleet, the ship’s lookout. Oscar Woody, the sea postman. A group of 1st Class promenaders and their 3rd Class counterparts.
Wolf approaches the iconic story of the Titanic as a poet and author, explaining how he came to be a writer and a lover of history and the process he uses to transform historical fact into his own unique brand of historical fiction. More than just an “author talk” or a “history lesson,” Wolf’s meaningful and memorable presentation will show his listeners how they can make history themselves through the power of words.
(k-2, 3-5, 6-12, adult)
Wolf loves to visit with schools, classes, book clubs, and other groups who have read his books. A day of Author Visits tends to be informal although it may include more formalized presentations as well. Wolf will share the story of how he came to write one or more of his books. He’ll describe his writing process, answer questions, and sign books. New Found Land, The Blood-Hungry Spleen, and The Watch That Ends the Night, all have accompanying Curriculum Guides with study questions, suggested activities, plus information and secrets behind the making of the books.
(3-5, 6-8, 9-12, adult)
Allan offers specialized in-depth presentations, usually with visual slides, that focus on the content and creation these individual books:
- The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic
- Immersed in Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet’s Life
- New Found Land: Lewis and Clark’s Voyage of Discovery
- Zane’s Trace
- The Blood-Hungry Spleen: And Other Poems About Our Parts
Allan is available to speak to a variety of gatherings. Allan’s “lectures” include lots of poetry recitation and performance. His general themes are the transforming power of language, how we transform history and everyday life into poetry, how poetry can be found literally everywhere, and (most importantly) how we can transform the ordinary into the extraordinary when we choose to see the world through our own “poet eyes.” Allan has delivered keynotes at educational and library conferences, young author celebrations, club lecture series, churches, and literary festivals of all kinds.
YOUNG AUTHOR CELEBRATIONS
Allan loves presenting and signing for young author celebrations. Aside from reading and presenting from his own books, he usually shares the story of how he came to realize the power of writing in his life. This typically includes the popular slide presentation that accompanies the story of how he began his writing career at the age of 15 by writing on his bedroom walls!
WRITING or Follow-up WORKSHOPS
(3-5, 6-8, 9-12, adult)
Allan facilitates poetry writing workshops with young people and adults. Typically his follow-up/writing workshops are scheduled after a larger assembly where students have seen how poetry “performs on the stage.” The follow-up session is a time to explore how poetry “performs on the page.” Allan will introduce students to example poems, stopping to note the specific qualities of each. Follow-up sessions which also involve writing, will include an appropriate writing prompt. Allan especially likes to model poems based on Georg Ella Lyon’s poem, “Where I’m From.” With enough time, this activity can culminate with the students creating an audio recording of a large-group spoken-word piece. Allan uses presentation throughout as needed, stopping to recite appropriate poems to illustrate a point or offer an example.
POETRY PERFORMANCE CLINICS
(K-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-12, adult)
Active Voice: Experiencing Poetry through Presentation and Drama. Participants learn what performance poetry is and a few theatre/presentation techniques to help them better understand and appreciate the poems they read. Wolf demonstrates how students can conduct themselves in front of a group of people and find their own personal power and charisma. Participants learn how to transform a poem into a script and how to put on a complete poetry extravaganza of dramatic and “stand-up” verse. Allan can also conduct this session for teachers, including classroom ideas.
TEACHER IN-SERVICES AND WORKSHOPS
Allan is available for Teacher Workshops and extended in-services that explore “best practices” in the teaching of poetry. Focus varies and may include performance, writing, reader response, content literacy, using poetry across the curriculum, and community building. Wolf has conducted workshops from 45 minute break-out sessions to weeklong in-services.
Allan is available for a limited number of “residencies.” These longer visits allow him to conduct a variety of classes, performances, and activities for individual schools, districts, writers’ groups, or educational institutions.
Click here for more information about Allan’s presentations.