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Bringing poetry to the people

Posted: February 7, 2014 4:59 p.m.
Updated: February 10, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Allan Wolf, a poet, author and performer, has a goal in mind when he performs before an audience -- it is, as he says, “to show people how to see the world in a different way and (how) to find the extraordinariness of the ordinary.” Wolf has written books for both elementary school age children as well as for young adult audiences.

Originally from Virginia, now Asheville, North Carolina, Wolf has been traveling from school to school performing for students and leading follow-up sessions where he works with them in a classroom setting “for 25 years,” he said.

“I was teaching at Virginia Tech for a few years and then I left the classroom and hit the road and started performing. Now I understand poetry, language and literacy much better through my connection with poetry,” Wolf said. He will perform Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the Doby’s Mill Elementary School (DMES) Multi Purpose Room. The public is invited and his performance is appropriate for all age-levels.

Wolf’s performances typically consist of him reciting poems from memory, both poems he has written himself and poems by other poets. “It’s dramatic, fast-paced, theatrical,” he said. “I call kids onto the stage to perform parts with me, (treating) poetry like a script so we can act it out. It teaches the kids to look for character, action, setting, theme; it leads them to analyze the poem, though we don’t say the ‘A-word.’”

He further describes the experience as incorporating “a lot of call and response,” adding that he will have his guitar at the ready and that music will sometimes accompany the poetry.

“I’ll sing a song,” he said, “and then play the guitar along with it and then I’ll remove the guitar and the melody and I’ll be reciting the words so that students see that it’s a poem. A song is a poem,” he said. Wolf said he aims to show students that words have sound, rhyme and meter within themselves.

The show will be open to adults and children, Wolf said, and will also appeal to both. He says it’s a benefit for parents to attend such an event with their children because it allows them to see what their children react to and what they find amusing and entertaining.

Wolf said he will perform poems from his book The Blood-hungry Spleen and Other Poems about Our Parts as well as selections from his novel The Watch that Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic. Audience members can also expect to hear what he calls “new poems or poems that I haven’t written down, that I keep in my head.” One such “new poem” is called This Book is Haunted by a Cow, and Wolf said that its performance at DMES will be “a world-premiere.”

Wolf’s self-described “one-man show” aims to present the world to kids and adults alike through the poet’s eyes. He said there is great value in seeing the world through a poet’s eyes because it teaches people to be imaginative, which teaches them to be innovative.

“Poetry gives us (the opportunity) to be immersed in the best aspects of language, the best aspects of all types of writing. It requires us to look at a situation and see the world as though we’re seeing it for the first time,” Wolf said. “Everyone hears a poem differently depending on who they are … to be a poet is to notice.”

For more information about Wolf and his books, visit www.allanwolf.com. Community members, young and old, are encourage to attend his performance Tuesday.

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