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Raymond Keen

Raymond Keen was educated at Case Western Reserve University and the University of Oklahoma. He spent three years as a Navy clinical psychologist with a year in Vietnam (July 1967 – July 1968). Since that time he has worked as a school psychologist and licensed mental health counselor in the USA and overseas, until his retirement in 2006. He is a credentialed school psychologist in the states of California and Washington, and a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Washington. Raymond lives with his  ...See more >


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"Keen’s debut poetry collection arrives at the party already a little drunk, a bit raucous and talking a mile a minute, but the longer the night goes on, the more sense it seems to make. After all, he’s not out to hurt anyone; he’s just trying to figure out where it all went wrong for all of us."

Kirkus Reviews


AWARDS, PRESS & INTERESTS

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2013: Love Poems for Cannibals

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2013, 2013: Love Poems for Cannibals

Named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2013, 2013: Love Poems for Cannibals

Hometown Pueblo, CO

Favorite author William Shakespeare

Favorite book Hamlet

Day job Retired psychologist

Favorite line from a book What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculty! in form, in moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what

Favorite word Scheiße

Unexpected skill or talent Stand-up comedy

Passion in life Philosophical inquiry that examines language as a distortion (reduction) of reality


BOOKS REVIEWED BY KIRKUS:

Pub Date:
ISBN: 978-1470182687
Page count: 166pp

Startling, cynical, satirical free verse about life among the postmodern ruins.

Keen’s debut poetry collection arrives at the party already a little drunk, a bit raucous and talking a mile a minute, but the longer the night goes on, the more sense it seems to make. After all, he’s not out to hurt anyone; he’s just trying to figure out where it all went wrong for all of us. With considerable energy and tightly coiled wit, Keen ranges across the political, spiritual and pop-culture landscapes only to find them all a little disorienting and largely bereft. “There is no sadness,” he writes, “But the fear of sadness. / There is no despair, / But the distraction from despair. / There is no suffering, / But the avoidance of suffering. / We’re living in bad times, / Biochemically speaking.” Regardless of where he looks, nothing essential remains. Love is sold “in bottles now, / and smells like aftershave,” Christ is “lost in all the traffic” and “so far away from now.” Even your sense of self is suspect: “In this cellular moment, / This eternity / Among strangers, / You see / Yourself / In bits / And / Pieces, / Impossible to describe.” Trapped by the postmodern condition and yearning for the teleologically secure time “before the world was shattered,” Keen’s narrators respond in seemingly the only way available—playing their own language games, answering absurdity with absurdity and papering over fragmentation with pastiche. Meditations on death are peppered with popular advertising slogans, and the apotheosis of Western civilization is reduced to Michelangelo’s David infested with maggots. With no certainty, even of the self, the poems join in the cannibalizing of culture, seeking irony in unexpectedly ironic situations. Amid the brutality arises humor, and Keen ably joins a long tradition in American avant-garde poetry of lampooning demagoguery with poems like “The Demystification of Henry Kissinger” and “Even at Night All Snakes Swallow Their Prey Whole: Looking Back at Arafat & Some of His Peers.” Supporting the politics, satire and social commentary is a more than capable, sometimes beautiful verse that relies heavily on repetition—from anaphora to choral refrains—and startlingly precise imagery (“sway-backed surgeons, / Peeling human skulls like eggs”) for great effect.

Thought-provoking, incisive and entertaining; a remarkably well-rounded debut.

UTube Video Book Trailer - "Love Poems for Cannibals"