Welcome to Poetry Alive.

Poetry Alive!® Vita

Founded: 1984 in Asheville, NC.



Carney Gray:

Carney is an Asheville based professional producer, director and actor, working in film, video, commercial, industrial, voiceover, print, hand modeling and the stage. He has extensive experience with both classical and contemporary drama. He has worked all over the country, and abroad. He has also taught Introduction to Theatre and Fundamentals of Acting at The Ohio State University.

Nationally, he has worked with Kentucky Shakespeare Festival in Louisville, performing Casca in Julius Caesar, King Antiochus in Pericles, Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Navarre in Love's Labour's Lost; the Contemporary American Theatre Company (CATCO) in Columbus, Ohio, playing The Mayor of Hooverville in The Grapes of Wrath; Door Off Broadway in Door County, Wisconsin, playing Abbot Costello in Monky Business; Festival Theatre in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, playing Larry/Scrooge in Inspecting Carol; Commonweal Theatre in Lanesboro, Minnesota, playing David Bliss in Hay Fever, Van Helsing in Dracula, and Lane/Merriman in The Importance of Being Earnest; Paul Bunyan Playhouse in Bemidji, Minnesota, playing Frank in Educating Rita, Tom in Dinner With Friends, and Harry the Horse in Guys and Dolls.

He also has extensive stage credits in the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, having appeared as Captain Harcourt in Melville Slept Here at Park Square Theatre; Father Mark in Tony n' Tina's Wedding at Hey City Theater, Froggy LeSueur in The Foreigner at Seasons Dinner Theatre, and Felix in The Odd Couple for Pigs Eye Theatre, among many others. Carney holds an MFA in Theatre (Professional Actor Training Program) from The Ohio State University, as well as a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Minnesota. - email Carney

Michelle Schwantes:

Michelle is co-owner and president of Poetry Alive. She hails from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She has toured nationally with Boston Repertory Theatre, Climb Theatre and Giggle Poetry Theatre. She has also worked with Children's Theatre Company of Minneapolis, Gremlin Theatre, SteppingStone Theatre, Stages Theatre, the Minnesota Rennaissance Festival as well as many others. She has extensive experience working as an Actor/Educator, Director, Choreographer, Producer and Managing Director. She is also classically trained in ballet, tap and jazz dance.

She enjoys literature and poetry. Among her favorite literary figures are Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Jane Austin, Edgar Allan Poe, Mark Twain, and Victor Hugo. - email Michelle


Bob Falls:
Bob is founder of Poetry Alive! and originator of the in-service program. He holds both a BS and an MA in History from Virginia Tech at Blacksburg. He has performed and conducted workshops since 1984, and has taught at both the high school and college levels. - email Bob 


Wendi Loomis:
Wendi has been with Poetry Alive! since 1997 and filled a variety of roles performing full time for four years and continuing to peform part time in addition to the day to day administration of the company. Relocated from Seattle to Asheville, NC, Wendi has degree from Western Washington University in Acting, Playwriting & Musical Theatre. She also performs locally with other theatre groups with with her jazz band The Red Hot Sugar Babies. - email Wendi

Background Information:

Since 1984, Poetry Alive! has produced educational performances for student audiences throughout the United States and beyond. Poetry Alive! couples poem performance of curriculum-based literature with both in-class workshops for students and in-service workshops for faculty. A two-person "team" of professional performers conducts both the performances and the workshops. Poetry Alive! has 5 or 6 teams touring throughout the school year depending on the schedule. Team members are college graduates with degrees ranging from Fine Arts to Education. Many are former educators. Student audiences range from kindergarten through the university level. A typical 35-50 minute show includes 20-25 poems tailored to fit the ages and interests of the audience. The poems, memorized and performed theatrically, are found in popular textbooks and anthologies. Our shows change each year and the current year show list is sent out in advance of the visit. Special requests are honored when possible. Adult performances are also available.

Poetry Alive! has been active in providing instructional workshops for national, regional, state and local organizations (and affiliates) such as the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), the International Reading Association (IRA), the Core Knowledge Foundation, Teachers Applying Whole Language (TAWL), the American Library Association (ALA) and the National Middle School Association (NMSA) plus numerous Literacy conferences, Arts-in-Education conferences, Black History events, Writers conferences, cultural diversity workshops, library events, arts festivals, etc. Poetry Alive! has performed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Argentina, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Guam, Japan, Peru, Puerto Rico, Saipan, South Korea, Turkey and Venezuela.

Each school year, Poetry Alive! conducts approximately 2500 performances, over 900 classroom followups, and 250 teacher workshops for an estimated 600,000 students nationwide.

Poetry Alive! has also worked with NCTE affiliates and IRA affiliates in states such as Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Florida, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Saipan, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.



Put our Experience to work for you!
Check out our Assembly Shows, InService, and Institute options!