Keith has been writing and performing his poetry since the early 1970's. Writing in both dialect and 'standard' English, he has also made several recordings often appearing alongside fellow Forest writers Winifred Foley, Harry Beddington, Joyce Latham and Dr Tandy. A founding member of Dean Forest Voice, and instigator of The Forest Faddle, Keith continues to campaign in support of Forest traditions and heritage.
Keith was born in Coleford in 1942. The son of a Collier, his mother died when he was very young. After attending St John's Primary School he gained entry to Coleford's Bells Grammar School. In 1958, whilst still at school, he began a Saturday morning job at a barber shop in Coleford – the same shop where he now still runs his barbering business.
“The barber shop is the source of a lot of my information, and stories, and yarns, and tales. You get some very interesting dialogue in there sometimes”
fter school Keith attended Cinderford's Mining Technical College (MINTEC) to do engineering course as part of an apprenticeship at Rank Precision Industries – later Rank Xerox. Keith worked there for 23yrs - whilst continuing to work as a barber on Saturdays.
He was a keen photographer and started to write poetry as extended captions to his photographs of the Forest and its people. When Forest Bookshop owner and publisher Doug McLean saw these poems one day in Keith's barber shop he asked Keith about publishing them. This lead to the publication of two collections of Keith's poems (both illustrated by local artist Doug Eaton), the vinyl album Forest Talk, and the evocative A Quat An A Chat cassette release - both featuring other local writers, poets and musicians in performance.
Keith came to know fellow Forest dialect writer Harry Beddington well. Harry had written to him after the publication of Keith's first book. Keith also corresponded with Leonard Clark. Another acquaintance and fellow performer at this time was notable countryside writer Fred Archer. "Fred used to come to the Forest a lot, staying at Noxon Farm on Bream Avenue – he did a lot of his writing there," says Keith.
A keen supporter of local traditions Keith was a founding member of local campaign group Dean Forest Voice, and was instrumental in setting up The Forest Faddle event. and the Forest Bard annual competition.
The ‘azards o’ Chimuck Szwippin (1978)
Albert’s Dree Wi’ker (1985)
Forest Talk, an evening of songs, poetry and humour from the Forest of Dean (1981)
A Quat An A Chat (1984)
The Vree Miners
Out Spake Forest