Allen West was born in Beirut, Lebanon, in 1930 and came to the U.S. with his family after the 1941 invasion of Greece by Germany. Educated at Philips Academy and Princeton University, he served three years in the U.S. Army and received a PhD in chemistry from Cornell University in 1960. He taught at Williams College and Lawrence University until 1994, when he and his wife moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts. While there, he was a tutor at Cambridge Rindge & Latin High School and a volunteer at Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. His wife died in 1999; he has three children and three grandchildren.
He began writing poetry in 1983. A runner-up for the 1992 Grolier Poetry Prize and winner of the White Eagle Coffee Store Press’s 2000 chapbook competition (“The Time of Ripe Figs,” 2002), his poems have appeared in many journals including Passager, the Comstock Review, Concrete Wolf, RHINO, and Salamander. A long-time member of The Workshop for Publishing Poets in Brookline, Massachusetts, he credits his continued development to its director, Barbara Helfgott Hyett. Since 2007 he has lived in Lexington Massachusetts.