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

Keith’s book, ‘Lerner and Loewe’s My Fair Lady,’ (Routledge) has 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.’


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

ISBN13: 9781771832991

ISBN10: 1771832991

$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.



Teaneck, N.J. – After years in the making, The Dictionary of Armenian Surnames, researched and compiled by Armenian Weekly newspaper columnist C.K. Garabed, will be available online. The occasion will be marked with a slide lecture called “What’s in a Name? The Etymology of Armenian Surnames” to be delivered by Garabed at St. Illuminator’s Pashalian Hall (221 E. 27th Street, NYC 10016) on Sunday, December 9, 2018 following Holy Badarak.

The program will start at 1 pm and is sponsored by the Regional Executive of the Hamazkayin Armenian Educational & Cultural Society and St. Illuminator’s Armenian Apostolic Cathedral.





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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