Commissioner Keith is flying high with new poetry book
- May 15, 2017 -
Catriona Stewart from the Glasgow Evening Times reports
Glasgow Airport's chaplain has published a collection of poems about his life to raise money for charity.
Inspired by his mother and written in memory of his late wife, Salvation Army officer Commissioner Keith Banks's book is about life, love and loss. Commissioner Keith began writing poems in his thirties as a way of recording personal moments in his life. Now 74, the father-of-two has gathered a selection of his writings together in a book called Contentment.
It was his mother Muriel’s gift for writing poetry that prompted the Salvation Army stalwart to follow suit. “Her playful writing impressed me. I remember laughing with her about the things she had written. My mum derived endless pleasure from perfecting her art. “I started to do the same, although my verses were far less amusing than hers. "I had an inclination to write more seriously but I have no doubt that the desire to do so sprang from the love of crafting words that my mother had given to me.”
As previously told in the Evening Times, during his life as a Salvation Army officer, Commissioner Keith has worked as the Officer Commanding for the church and charity in Papa New Guinea. He has also been Chief Secretary in Japan, as well as being the International Secretary for Personnel at the organisation’s International Headquarters in London. Despite being officially retired as an officer, Commissioner Keith continues to remain active and has been the chaplain at Glasgow Airport since 2009.
He leads the Salvation Army’s chaplaincy team at the airport and works alongside his assistants Captain Stephen Baker and Jim McDonald, a volunteer from Govan Salvation Army.
Throughout his book, Commissioner Keith tells many of the stories and secrets that shaped his poems. He reveals he wrote Over There just hours after scattering the remains of his wife Pauline, who died in 2008.
He said: “At the time I could see the Isle of Cumbrae from my home. "The day before Pauline’s funeral, I sat looking at the island and contemplated matters of life, death and life after death. "The sky over behind the island was beautiful and a yacht sailed into the distance. For me heaven was on the other side of the island. "So that’s where my daughter Alison and I scattered Pauline’s earthly remains. Over there.”
Commissioner Keith’s book is also filled with happy memories and moments of humour that his mum would have been proud of. In one poem called Say it Again he writes about a friend, seated behind him in a car, who never seems to hear things first time. Commissioner Keith reveals that the ideas behind his poems are rooted in all aspect of his life. He added: “It could be a deep emotion. A person, something someone says, an object, the beauty of nature. Anything.” The commissioner has a long history of turning his hand to literary challenges. In fact, he has written the lyrics for many Salvation Army songs and even a few Salvation Army stage musicals.
In 2015, he wrote the lyrics for a musical performed in LA and London to mark the 150th year of The Salvation Army. Even though he is officially a retired officer, Commissioner Keith also recently finished writing the lyrics to 10 songs for a musical to again be performed in LA later this year. Contentment is illustrated by fellow retired officer Lieutenant Colonel Lucille Turfrey.
Every penny from the proceeds of the book goes to support the work of The Salvation Army.