photo of Keith Garebian Keith Garebian

photo by Elisabeth Feryn

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 has contributed book reviews to the prestigious World Literature Today website in the U.S.



***Canadian Literature praises ‘William Hutt: Soldier Actor’ in an October 2018 review:

“This is a compelling, genuinely delightful biography that not only focuses on the trajectory of Hutt’s long and active career and personal life, but also situates this personal history in the development of Canadian theatre following the Second World War, and in the coincidence of that development with the advent and popularization of television, which gave working opportunities to many actors whose first love was the stage. This book is written with seriousness and insight as well as affection, it provides analysis as well as anecdote, and Garebian’s long history as a writer of theatre gives it great confidence. Both theatre historians and the theatre-loving general public will find much of interest here.”

***Bywords.ca has posted a great review by David Bateman of Poetry is Blood. Here are exercepts from it:

“Keith Garebian’s latest collection of poetry speaks of ‘differences’ with a passion for words that simultaneously touch the heart and excavate history in a troubling and cathartic manner. Gorgeous images mingle at times with at times subtle, at times gut-wrenching moments of remembered terror…

‘April’ welcomes us into a collection that is at once citational and original as a passionate voice mixes the cruelties of T.S. Eliot’s infamous month and moves it into a specific time and place, creating metaphors that simultaneously remind, urge and re-mix the memory of past and present murderous inhumanity into a single vein of intense blood poetry:

‘A month bequeathing poppies,
compact red explosions.

Insomniacs found bones
in meadows of ordinary light.’

A kind of spring-like, imagistic opening moment of poetry moves rapidly into the lifelines that memory, homage, and graphic representation can construct once skillfully brought together by a remarkable poet. From winters of ravaged discontent and bloody desecration come iconic seasonal affirmations and catharsis that must occur over and over again in order to draw our attention to the repetitions of the past we may try to overcome–as they do so skillfully in Keith Garebian’s work Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems; Frida: Paint Me As A Volcano; Children of Ararat; Poetry is Blood.

Poetry Is Blood carries on Garebian’s tradition of humanity seeking disquieting refuge in memory loss and recuperation. From the opening and re-birth of ‘April’ to the commanding open-ended closure of ‘Fetish of Last Lines,’ this beautiful and moving collection restores one’s faith in words and poetry that both warns and comforts in its great poetic narrative and import.”

2019 Finalist, Mississauga Arts Award for Established Writing
2019 Honourable Mention, William H. Drummond Poetry Contest
2019 Poem in LoveJets anthology (U.S.)
2019 Poem in 13 (League of Canadian Poets chapbook)
2018 Finalist, Mississauga Arts Award for Writing
2017 Ontario Arts Council Recomender’s Grant
2016 Judge, 31st Saving Bannister Anthology Poetry Contest (CAA-Niagara)
Shortlisted for GritLit Poetry Award
Ontario Arts Council Writers’ Reserve Grant
2015 Shortlisted for Gwendolyn MacEwen-Exile Poetry Award for
Best Single Poem from a suite
Two Ontario Arts Council Writers’ Reserve Grants
Shortlisted for Freefall magazine Poetry Award
2014  First Prize, 22nd annual Surrey International
Writers Conference Poetry Contest
Third Prize, Canadian Authors Association
(Niagara Branch) Poetry Contest
Juror, Playwright Residency, Ontario Arts Council
Canada Council Senior Arts Grant for Creative Writing
Juror for the Gerald Lampert Award for Poetry
Ontario Arts Council Writers’ Reserve Grant
Third Prize, William Henry Drummond Poetry Contest
2013 William Saroyan Medal (Ministry of Diaspora, Armenia)
Juror, Works in Progress (February 2013 Competition), OAC
Honourable Mention, William Henry Drummond Poetry Contest
Ontario Arts Council Writers’ Reserve Grant
2012 Ontario Arts Council Works in Progress Grants
Ontario Arts Council Writers’ Reserve Grant
Poems in three anthologies, including Poet to Poet
(Guernica) and Seek It (Red Claw Press)
Armenia Year of the Book Award, St. Mary’s Apostolic Church, Scarb
2011 Long-listed Re-Lit Award (Poetry), Children of Ararat
Non-fiction in Indian Voices,Vol. 1
Poems in Crave It
2010 First Prize, Scarborough Arts Council Poetry Contest
Juror for the City of Edmonton Book Prize
Children of Ararat selected as one of 10 winning
poetry manuscripts for publication as part of
Frontenac House’s 2010 Dektet series
2009 Poem of the Month, selected by Parliamentary Poet Laureate, Ottawa
First Prize, Canadian Authors Association (Niagara Branch) Poetry Contest
Naji Naaman Literary Honor Prize (Lebanon)
         Blue: The Derek Jarman Poems Longlisted Lambda Poetry Award
Ontario Arts Council, Works in Progress Grant
Ontario Arts Council, Writers’ Reserve Grant

2008 Second Prize, Queen’s University Alumni Well-Versed Poetry Contest
2007 Poems in four anthologies, including Seminal (eds. John Barton and Billeh Nickerson) and Arms Like Ladders: The Eloquent She (ed. Katerina Fretwell)
Finalist, Dan Sullivan Memorial Poetry Contest, Writers’ Circle of Durham        
2006  3rd Prize, Dan Sullivan Memorial Poetry Contest, Writers’ Circle of Durham
Scarborough Arts Council Honourable Mention for Poetry
2005 Ontario Arts Council, Writers’ Reserve Grant
Longlisted, ReLit Award for Poetry (Frida: Paint  Me As A Volcano)
2004 Queen’s Alumni Poetry Contest, 2nd Prize
2003 Ontario Poetry Society Award for Haiku
Lakeshore Arts/Scarborough Arts Council Award for Poetry
2002  Ontario Poetry Society Award for Free Verse
Scarborough Arts Council Honourable Mention for Poetry
2001  Scarborough Arts Council Honourable Mention for Poetry  


Frontenac House Announces the authors of Quartet 2019

We received over 100 manuscripts for Quartet 2019. Thank you to everyone who submitted, you made it a very challenging task to narrow the list down to only four titles. Our authors for 2019 are:

  • Keith Garebian, with Against Forgetting;
  • Natalie Meisner, with Baddie One Shoe;
  • Conrad Scott, with Waterline Immersion; and
  • Laura Zacharin, with Common Brown House Moths.

World Famous American Composer Gregory Spears has set one of my Derek Jarman poems to music for choir and instrument. It will be part of a larger work described below:


The Presbyterian Church of Chestnut Hill
Pre-concert talk with Donald, Gregory, James, and Joel @ 7pm in the Burleigh Cruikshank Memorial Chapel

newly commissioned works by Gregory Spears and James Primosch

NOVEMBER 18, 2018 at 7.30 P.M.   Berkeley Hillside Club    San Francisco
NOVEMBER 19, 2018 at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music

MAY 11, 2019 at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields at 8 PM
May 12, 2019 at the Church of St. Luke in the Fields at 3 PM

Are we called today to pacifism or activism? 
What do we protect, the integrity of capitalism
or the health of the community?

These questions lie at the root of poems by Thomas Merton and Denise Levertov. Set by Gregory Spears in a new 30-minute work for strings and choir, they also ask us to consider the relationship between technological innovation and its dangers that often lead to haunting sociological change. Philadelphia composer James Primosch sets an excerpt from Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping, an exploration of the balancing effect of desire and longing on our lives. The program includes two additional works written for The Crossing, Toivo Tulev’s A child said, what is the grass? and Joel Puckett’s dizzying, entrancing I enter the earth.

Gregory Spears The Tower and the Garden (world premiere)
James Primosch Carthage (world premiere)
Joel Puckett I enter the earth
Toivo Tulev A child said, what is the grass?


The Tower and the Garden is a setting of three poems for choir and strings. The texts juxtapose the dangers of unchecked technological advancement (the tower) and the need for a place of refuge (the garden) in a world threatened by war and ecological disaster. Each text is written by (or about) artists who used Catholic thought or Catholic imagery to challenge the status quo.

The first text, by poet and Catholic activist Denise Levertov, is a meditation on the tower of Babel and the dangers of technological collapse. The second poem, written by Trappist monk and social activist Thomas Merton, is a meditation on the garden of Gethsemane and the search for truth amidst the uncertainties of the modern world. The poem, which was published in 1968, has an eschatological tone in keeping with the turmoil-filled era of the late-60s. The final poem, written by Keith Garebian, is an homage to queer filmmaker Derek Jarman and his small cottage garden at Dungeness, England. Situated precariously between a nuclear power plant and the sea, the cottage and garden was Jarman’s austere refuge during the final months of his struggle with AIDS. While an atheist and highly critical of the church, Derek Jarman was intrigued by the role religious and hagiographic narratives could play in his filmed critiques of the British establishment. This is is most notable in his film The Garden, which was shot in Dungeness. 

Read the music review of the piece here:


552 pages Hardcover
ISBN 13: 9781771832991
$37.95 Canada, $37.95 US

Guernica Editions, Fall 2017

William Hutt showed that it was possible to be a great classical actor without sacrificing his Canadian accent or cultural identity. His imperishable portraits of Tartuffe, King Lear, Lear’s Fool, Feste, Khlestakov, Duke Vincentio, Titus Andronicus, Timon, Argan, Lady Bracknell, James Tyrone, Sr., and Prospero ensured that he will be remembered as long as there is cultural memory. Offstage, he could be charming and witty or moody and oppressively grand. He remained the Duke of “Dark Corners” to many who wished to know him more intimately. In this detailed, probing, and thought-provoking biography, Keith Garebian weaves together Hutt’s private and public lives, his most intense conflicts, deepest yearnings and anxieties in order to show how Hutt brought his life to his work and work to his life in a manner that left him vulnerable to wounds of the heart yet open to radical re-invention as an actor.

“William Hutt was one of the greatest actors of our time: a true theatre legend. He was also a deeply private person, an enigma even to those of us who knew him and worked with him. In this absorbing new biography, Keith Garebian not only offers us his personal perspective on Bill’s so potent art but also delves deep into the complexities and conflicts within the master magician himself.”  (Antoni Cimolino, Artistic Director of the Stratford Festival)

***James Karas has reviewed the biography on his website jameskarasreviews.blogspot.ca. Here are excerpts from this review:

“It is a major contribution to the history of Canadian theatre and a superb portrait of Hutt, warts and all, as a performer, artist and human being. [Garebian] leaves no stone unturned and one is continually impressed by the breadth and depth of his research…Garebian covers a large swath of theatre history in the second-half of the 20th century in Ontario as it is connected to Hutt…Hutt’s complex personal life receives well-deserved coverage…Garebian is astutely and keenly interested in Hutt’s development as an actor…From becoming proficient at comedy such as Noel Coward roles to finding his inner self or the inner self of the characters that he played was a long journey of discovery for Hutt that Garebian covers meticulously.”


“Few would dispute that Christopher Plummer is Canada’s most famous classical actor.
But when it comes to our most versatile classical actor, few, including Plummer himself, would argue that the honour goes to William Hutt. Of course, younger critics simply have to take the word of us older ones, who were fortunate to see Hutt onstage. He died in 2007, leaving behind a legacy of unparalleled performances, predominantly at the Strat-ford Festival. Unfortunately, unlike Plummer, Hutt seldom had the opportunity to commit his work to film–although when he did, as in the 1996 version of A Long Day’s Journey into Night, it proved what a magnificent actor he was.

Now, with the recent publication of Keith Garebian’s William Hutt: Soldier Actor, he has the major biography that he deserves. Keith, who published two previous books on Hutt when the actor was still alive, has been labouring on this one for years and the result is a rich, highly readable tome, lavishly illustrated with photos (as all books about the theatre should be), that covers the full scope of the man and his achievements.” (Critically Speaking, Spring 2018)

Tuesday, June 12: Art Bar Poetry Series, Cloak and Dagger Pub, 394 College St., Toronto at 6.30 pm
Sunday, July 29: The Secret Handshake Poetry Reading Series, 170A Baldwin Street,
Toronto at 1.30 pm
Tuesday, November 20: Spoken Ink, Vancouver, 6584 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, B.C., 8-9.30 p.m.

Friday, November 23: Surrey Muse, #405-City Centre Branch, Surrey Public Library,
10350 University Drive, Surrey, Vancouver. 5.30-8.30 p.m.


4 thoughts on “About

  1. Mr Garebian. I have just read you book on the making of Cabaret. i found it to be very interesting. May I ask how you got so much information on Jill Haworth? The reason I ask this is I have just been looking over her biography in Google, and some of what you have mentioned about her is not mentioned there?

    • Hello, Mr. Bell, and thank you for your comment and query. I did research in the New York Public Library at Lincoln Centre, which is probably the best place to do Broadway research.

      Hope this helps.

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