Born to an Armenian father and an Anglo-Indian mother, Keith Garebian holds a doctorate in Canadian and Commonwealth Literature from Queen’s University. The author of twenty-two books and a chapbook, he is a widely-published writer. His reviews and articles have appeared in over a hundred newspapers, journals, magazines, and anthologies. In 2000, he became the first critic-at-large to be appointed by a public library, when he was contracted to post theatre and book reviews for three years on the website for the Mississauga Public Library. His poetry has been published in Impulse, Echo, Inscape, The Antigonish Review, Literary Review of Canada, Exile, Quarry, Grain, The Malahat Review, and various anthologies. The winner of the prestigious William Saroyan Medal in Armenia, and the 2000, 2008, and 2013 Mississauga Arts Award for Writing, he won First Prize in the Canadian Authors Association Poetry Contest in 2009, writing grants from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council, and top prizes for poetry from a variety of journals and arts councils. Some of his work has been translated into French, Armenian, German, Chinese, Romanian, Bulgarian, and Hindi. A member of the League of Canadian Poets, he is available for public readings and symposia. He contributes book reviews to the prestigious World Literature Today website in the U.S.
Keith’s next poetry reading is for ‘th secret handshake gala poetree reading seeries’ (organizer: bill bissett) on Sunday, March 26 at 170A Baldwin St., Kensington Market, Toronto. He is one of the featured readers and the reading begins at 2 pm.
Keith’s latest book, ‘Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady,’ (Routledge) has just been reviewed by arts journalist-poet David Bateman on batemanreviews.blogspot.ca. Here are excerpts from this review:
‘Poet, arts journalist, and acclaimed musical theatre expert, Keith Garebian has neatly combined queer theory, biography, and his own special brand of accessible, engaging writing that adds a unique perspective to the presence of a great play that became a great musical. He doesn’t shy away from the intimate personality details that mingle with the characters that both Julie Andrews and Rex Harrison brought to their interpretations of the pivotal roles of Eliza and Henry. Nor does he mince words about Moss Hart’s presence as a closeted homosexual director who brought the kind of vigour and skill necessary to push this iconic score through arduous rehearsals, revisions, and a variety of fascinating behind the scenes scenarios. …Telling the truth in the light of late twentieth-century queer theory, with the aid of extensive research and impressive knowledge of the musical theatre genre, Garebian gives his reader a delightful and enlightening new look at an old somewhat “politically incorrect” text. Not to dismiss the beauty of the songs, or the romance of the tale, and yet Garebian himself speaks directly to the misogyny of the text, to Harrison’s reputation as a somewhat abrasive ladies man, Andrews’s trained “innocence” and “chaste femininity” that had to be sculpted carefully by Hart, not to mention the subtly crafted homosocial triangle that occurs between the two men vying for the attention of the fair lady….It is the mixture of machismo, innocence, and a severely delineated class structure–the division between the rich and the poor–that creates the dramatic tension–a tension that is simultaneously heightened and alleviated through song (courtesy of the genius of Lerner and Loewe) that gives Garebian’s text such a lively and engaging tone–contributing to an ongoing discussion regarding one of the most popular pieces of 20th century musical theatre.’
Another positive review–this one from Jeffrey Round, posted on Vailed, March 27, 2017:
‘In an age of seemingly exhaustive biographies and prolific cultural studies, Routledge’s Fourth Wall “study series” offers a refreshingly intimate look at some turning points in modern theatrical history.
Keith Garebian’s Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady is a distillation of years of the author’s intimate knowledge about this and other musicals. His love for his subject and his impeccable prose make reading it a delight, as he cleverly dissects the personal and artistic, showing how one helped form the other in what was to become the Broadway version of George Bernard Shaw’s much-loved tale of the erudite Englishman who teaches a Cockney flower girl to pass as a “lady.”
Most revealing are his stories of how Julie Andrews struggled to broaden the scope of her acting, at times under duress from the callow egotism of co-star Rex Harrison, and how in real life Harrison managed to combine the role of well-bred Englishman with that of the sexist alpha-male. (With an eventual full count of six wives and two autobiographies to his credit, or discredit, he was well-suited to the part.)
Wisely, Garebian includes Moss Hart, the show’s “sexually ambiguous” director who put the show through numerous revisions until it became what has been referred to as “the perfect musical.” The contributions of Hart…ensured that there would be a gay code to the musical’s making. Garebian dives directly into this aspect as well, linking theories of sex roles and sexuality. The use of academic “queer theory” jargon all the rage in some quarters, is thankfully minimal…
On the whole, there is far greater emphasis on the show’s lyrics than its music, but this only serves to underline Garebian’s mastery of the language (he is also a poet). It’s here he shows his full understanding of the work’s literary elements. The result, a thorough yet easily digested analysis, makes the work relevant to today’s audiences, rendering it far more than just a lovely anachronism.’