In the Beginning and Other Poems

Description

48 pages
$9.50
ISBN 0-9685339-1-4
DDC C811'.54

Author

Year

1999

Contributor

Ronald Charles Epstein is a Toronto-based freelance writer and published poet.

Review

W.J. Keith read his poetry at Toronto’s (Anglican) St. Thomas’s
Church. In 1999, the church issued the volume under review, a verse
collection that explores life’s philosophical dimensions.

Keith is a culturally curious poet who explores First Nations and
Buddhist beliefs. He defends Christianity in an ecumenical manner; his
poem “In San Pedro” champions Peruvian Catholicism in an
Anglican-Canadian publication. His verse chooses simple faith over
intellectual anomie by endorsing an old Lima woman who “has chosen
angels rather than angst, and they answer her.” To the poet, all
churches provide comfort. He also rejects contemporary poetic
conventions. In “For George Johnston,” he praises the poet for
“words that ... even rhyme.” The traditionalist follows his beliefs
by using rhyme in a manner that recalls older works without overt
anachronism.

On the other hand, “Judas” is problematic. The protagonist’s
actions are prompted by talking creatures—is this poem intended for
children? Yet his novel, and effective, rhyme scheme gives this piece a
solid foundation, making it an example of proficient “Sunday School”
verse.

An avid birder, Keith is inspired by his hobby. In “The Birds of
Brazil,” he intersperses species names with questions about the
ornithologists who named them. This poem displays his intellectual
awareness; he is not satisfied with mere facts. He comments on the
appearance of a “Brown Bird” found outside its habitat, proving that
poetry can be informative.

Keith goes beyond mere self-expression, aiming for an emotional
resonance expressed in a technically accomplished manner; fortunately,
he is usually able to achieve his goal.

Citation

Keith, W.J., “In the Beginning and Other Poems,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed July 15, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/8466.