Poet, writer, wordsmith, biker... J. Barrett Wolf has lead a multi-faceted life since childhood. Born in 1954, Freeport, NY, he's the eldest of three brothers, the son of a truck driver father and entrepreneur businesswoman mother. His fondness for motorcycling may harken all the way back to this photo(rt) of Barrett on the back of a scooter driven by his dad around 1958.
In High School, Barrett attended the Washington Workshops program in civics and government, and developed an ongoing interest in journalism and music, becoming active on the Freeport High School newspaper and radio station. It was also during his high school years that Barrett began his creative journey as songwriter, guitarist and poet.
As a student at the University of New Haven, Barrett worked as as both writer and photographer at the college paper. He returned to Long Island in 1974, thoroughly immersing himself in a singer-songwriter community that centered at Middle Earth Switchboard in Hempstead, NY. In 1979, he went on to organize the 'Great Cultural Conspiracy' Coffeehouse in Huntington.
But, the road called. After a season or so in Boone, North Carolina, playing with Bluegrass musicians, Barrett headed out west to San Francisco, where he worked as a street musician on the waterfront, playing original songs for the tourists.
One day, he asked himself, "What would be the most difficult, challenging thing I could attempt at this point in my life?" The answer shocked even his closest friends... He joined the San Francisco Police Department in 1981, and was awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor for saving the life of a San Francisco civilian in May, 1982.
In 1984, Barrett returned to New York State as a songwriter, branching out to explore writing prose and poetry. It was then he spent three weeks hiking the North Carolina mountains on an Outward Bound wilderness expedition, learning and testing survival skills.
Barrett moved to Stamford CT in 1990, And worked at the Stamford Public Library and joined the Stamford Loft Artist Association, where he was elected President his first year.
In August 1992, he traveled to Ireland, to study at the Irish Writer's Center in Dublin, with Poets Eavan Boland, Paula Meehan and Theo Dorgan.
WHile living in Stamford, he continued to hone his writing, entering the 1993 Stamford Festival of the Arts Poetry Contest and receiving their First Prize for his poem "Old North Field". He also performed regularly as half of the bilingual, English-Spanish poetry duo "Café con Leche" with noted Dominican poet Marianela Medrano.
In 1994, he was chosen one of only eight poets for a coveted slot on the Connecticut Commission on the Arts 'Touring Artist' roster.
In 1998, Barrett moved again, this time to Cape Cod in MA, where he worked in web and graphic design, all the while booking other songwriters and acoustic musicians at New Driftwood Coffee House, and furthering his creative evolution from songwriter and musician to writer and poet. His work was being was published regularly, in literary and general interest magazine around the country, including Black Bear Review, Portland Review of the Arts, Amelia and Cats Magazine.
It was on Cape Cod that his avocation of motorcycle riding intersected with the written word. He joined the Highway Poets Motorcycle Club, the international association of published bikers, and began to tour with them and perform throughout the Northeast every August, during National Biker Poetry Month. He currently edits RoadPoet-NY the online biker poetry journal.
Barrett moved to upstate New York State in 2004, settling in Harpursville a small town in Broome County. He's been hosting the monthly poetry open mike at RiverRead Books, in downtown Binghamton, for the past two years and just edited their first chapbook anthology, "RiverReadings: The pen Like Poets of RiverRead Books: 2011.'
Barrett's 'day jobs' have ranged from factory worker to police officer, musician to private investigator... computer salesman, alternative book store manager, night club manager, graphic designer, web designer, carpenter, saw mill worker, volunteer firefighter... In an era of over-specialization, J. Barrett Wolf is a generalist, a jack of all trades, and master of some: an ideal background for a poet.
2011 will mark some major milestones in JBW's career as a writer: His first book of poems, "Stark Raving Calm" was published in June by Boone's Dock Press of Amityville, New York, and he'll be traveling to Huntsville, Alabama this September to feature at the Eleventh Annual Limestone Dust Poetry Festival.
The Broome County Arts Council (BCAC), awarded Wolf a United Cultural Fund (UCF) grant for 2012 in order for him to produce "Here and There: Poets from Near and Far," a five-reading series paring local poets with poets from the greater northeastern US. The series will begin in April and continue through November. He was the ONLY individual artist to receive a 2012 grant.