Raymond Keen graduated from Pueblo Central High School in 1959.
Raymond has done many important and interesting things in his life, but his most noteworthy achievement has been as a poet. What is most evident is that his service as a Navy officer and Vietnam Veteran, as well as his long career as a psychologist and world traveler, have profoundly affected his development as a poet.
As an honors student in English at Case Western Reserve University, Adelbert College (1959-1963), Raymond began writing his first poems. In 1965, while a graduate student at the University of Oklahoma, Raymond won an "Honorable Mention" for four of his poems in the State of Oklahoma College Student Poetry Contest.
Raymond was called up for active military duty from his Navy Reserve unit in Norman, OK in 1965, after completing the first year in a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at the University of Oklahoma. He was able to obtain one year's deferment in order to earn his Master's degree, and on September 1, 1966, he received a direct commission as an Ensign (O-1) and clinical psychologist in the Medical Service Corp.
Raymond served on active duty from September 1, 1966 to August 27, 1969. One year of that Navy service was in Vietnam (July 1967 - July 1968). He served in Vietnam with the 1st Marine Division, at 1st Medical Battalion, just outside the city of DaNang. It was in Vietnam in 1967 that he began to make regular diary entries of poetry. During his Vietnam tour in 1968, he was promoted to Lieutenant (O-3).
Later Raymond obtained a LIFE credential with the state of California in school psychology. Raymond would continue working as a school psychologist with the Department of Defense Dependents Schools (DoDDS), as well as in the states of California and Washington. By the time Raymond retired from DoDDS in 2006, he had lived/worked in the following countries: Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Japan, Panama, Okinawa and Turkey.
For his service in Vietnam, Raymond was awarded the Vietnam Service Medal with FMF Combat Insignia, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, and the National Defense Service Medal. He is a Life Member of Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA) and a Life Member of Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). He is a certified school psychologist in the states of California and Washington, and a licensed mental health counselor in the state of Washington.
While in Würzburg, Germany in 2001, Raymond began to transform his diary entries and notebooks of poetic fragments into poetry. By 2003, he had compiled over 150 poems. In July 2005, he had 5 of his best poems published in The American Poetry Review. This was a watershed event for him, as APR is considered one of the most important poetry publications in the U.S. It was at this time that Raymond realized his poetry was good enough to justify publishing as a book. During this period of time, Raymond was also published in 24 literary journals. His volume of poetry which he had been developing for 12 years, Love Poems for Cannibals, was published on February 5, 2013.
The quality and originality of Raymond's poetry is reflected in the top reviews on Amazon.com. The best rating for a book on Amazon.com is 5 stars. Love Poems for Cannibals has 24 reviews, 21 of which are 5 stars and 3 of which are 4 stars.
Two of the top book reviewers in the U.S. have described Raymond's Love Poems for Cannibals in glowing terms. Kirkus Reviews wrote the following in high praise:
"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 . . . . Thought-provoking, incisive and entertaining; a remarkably well-rounded debut."
Love Poems for Cannibals was named to "Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2013."
Another of the top book reviewers in the U.S. – Clarion Reviews – gave Love Poems for Cannibals 4 out of 5 stars, and wrote the following:
"This beautifully designed volume is filled with the polished work of a seasoned writer."
Richard Fenwick, Tucson poet and author of Around the Sun Without a Sail, wrote the following:
"Love Poems for Cannibals is a brilliant collection. In between reams of irony and a sense of futility, Raymond Keen announces the answers: truth and love. He derides the creators of The Vietnam War (in which he participated), describes the worthy-though-fragile quest for religion, and questions a society that seems bent on stroking its own ego."
Doyle Raymond Vines is a poet, and editor of SouthPass Publications. He wrote the following:
"Author Raymond Keen gives us Viet Nam from the field, political and social icons of our era with their pants down, a running dialogue with God, an absorbing, educated probe into the fabric of modern life, and unforgettable irony. Hitler to Charlie Manson, Freud to Einstein, the media and the remedial always coming at you from an abstract angle, seldom from a point of view you've ever considered. Masterful . . ."
Susan Blanshard was born in Hampshire, England. She is a best-selling author and an internationally acclaimed poet and essayist, who currently lives in Hanoi, Vietnam. She wrote the following:
"Seldom have I read in a single book of poetry such richness and diversity of thought. These poems range from the Vietnam War to our very deepest spiritual and existential concerns . . . We are shown again and again that here is a deep-thinking poet with a magic touch for saying things that are breathtakingly original."
Raymond is not finished with his writing. He has had a deep interest in drama since his days as an undergraduate at CWRU. This year Raymond will be publishing his play, The Private and Public Life of King Able. He is also in the planning stages of writing a novel.