His first book of poetry, Blood Lines, was published by Fiddlehead Poetry Books in 1979. In the ensuing thirty years, he has published twelve more collections. In 1982, he took over the publication of the poetry magazine Germination from his friend and fellow poet, Harry Thurston. He published 15 issues of the magazine, which featured the work of new and established Canadian and American poets. He also founded the poetry publishing house Owl's Head Press 1986. In 1990, he published a book of poems and translations by the eminent American poet Robert Bly.
He has lived in Alma since 1991 in the house that was built by his great-great uncle. Alma and Alma House have become a source of inspiration for both his music and poetry.
Allan has been writing and performing music since he was ten. He formed the blues trio Isaac, Blewett and Cooper with Jim Blewett and Tim Isaac in 1997. Since 2001 he has pursued a solo career. He currently writes and performs for the band Rosedale, which he founded in 2011.