Current Weather
Overcast

53°

Casting About: MSU's Keeler hooks audiences with his wit

Greg Keeler is a man who defies definition. He is the "fishing poet" of Montana State University, a full professor who turned into a "fool professor," as he puts it. He is a troubadour whose comic lyrics and plays hook audiences, in the fishing parlance that he is so adept at twisting. Some say Keeler is a state treasure. But no one - not even Keeler - can say where his mutant mind will turn next.

One day Keeler's writing a poem about "The Big Two-Fisted River" or a song about "Neoprene Waders." Another day he's painting "Girl with Big, Mad Kitty," his version of a Picasso. He's written a play about trout and songs about hot dogs. Some nights, he stands before a studio audience, strumming his guitar and singing ditties like "Little Bitch Creek" to the tune of "Little Deuce Coupe." It's a Beach Boy-style tribute to one of the most versatile flies he's ever found for fly fishing.

"I think Greg is one of the true lights at Montana State University," said Sara Jayne Steen, head of the English Department. "He is very modest, but his work is recognized nationally. His poetry is published in anthologies used nationwide. His work turns up on PBS. He does songs for national and international documentaries. … He is also an incredibly gifted teacher."

Keeler came to MSU in 1975 and became buddies with the late American novelist Richard Brautigan, who was then a visiting professor at MSU. He brushed with public broadcasting big time when his style and familiar-sounding name came to the attention of Garrison Keillor of "A Prairie Home Companion."

He has written or co-written five plays for the Vigilante Theatre Company. They include "Rewinding Montana," "Aliens and Canadians (his favorite)," "FTV - The Fishing Channel," "WUF!" and "Clark and Lewis." Keeler also co-hosts and performs on "The Mainstreet Show," a radio variety show out of Livingston. His latest CD is "Live from Nowhere," with many of the songs written by or co-written with his friends Ed Dorn, Rich Hall, David McCumber and Mike Devine.

"It's a very big draw if you say 'Greg Keeler,'" said Marla Goodman, bookings and promotion manager for the Vigilante Theatre Company. "Everybody wants to come. That's all over Montana, not just from the Bozeman area."

The father of two sons, Keeler was born in a nest of professors and is married to Judy Keeler, an adjunct professor of English. His only brother is an economics professor at the University of California-Berkeley. His mother was a professor in Family Relations and Child Development at Oklahoma State University-Stillwater. His father was an English professor who wrote poems and essays and enjoyed fishing.

"He didn't have to try to be an influence," Keeler said of his like-minded father who died in 1979. "I just liked to do the stuff he liked to do."

When he's not fishing, Keeler writes about fishing, sings about fishing or paints his neighbor girls fishing.

"Sort of what Greg does is use fishing as a poetic metaphor," Steen observed.

In the spring of 2001, he'll host and teach a nationally advertised seminar at MSU on the topic of fishing literature. With 10 to 15 participants expected the first year, the weekend, full-days seminar is expected to grow and eventually will serve as a fundraiser for the MSU English Department. It will incorporate flyfishing with guest lectures, panels and, of course, plenty of exposure to MSU's fishing poet.

"He's not afraid to use anything to catch fish," said Mike Devine, creator of "The Mainstreet Show" and co-host with Keeler. "He's not a proud fisherman. He just likes to catch fish and he's just out there doing it. … It's in his blood."

© 2015 Bozeman Daily Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Posted on

Unlimited Access

The Chronicle allows readers to view only seven articles for free each month. To make sure you have unlimited access to the best local news, purchase a digital subscription for just $6.95 per month.

The Bozeman Daily Chronicle welcomes public comments on stories, but we do require you to abide by some ground rules. In general: be polite, don’t post obscenities, stay on topic, respect people’s privacy, don’t feed the trolls and be responsible.

Comment deleted? You can discuss comment deletions by writing to comments@dailychronicle.com.

comments powered by Disqus

Connect with us

Apr 4

Equus

  • MSU Black Box Theatre
More Events

1000 SF Warehouse w/ Bath in Belgrade - $550, Growers $700. Call 406-580-5816

See full ad

CONDO DOWNTOWN BOZEMAN 1BR, Main Street unit, fully furnished. Historic bldg, great skylights! Available 4/1. $850 Includes utils. 406-539-7355

See full ad

RENT / RENT / RENT MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATES 586-6500 Bozeman Rentals 1175 Bur stand-alone 3BR, 2BA home. $1550/month 2642 Typha Court #19 3BR, 2.5BA, 2 level condo. $1300/month Belgrade Rental…

See full ad

388-1010 NEW UNITS available, all sizes SECURE outside storage BEST RATES IN TOWN.

See full ad

(1) Room for female-$475. In stylish newer home mo.- mo. Absentee owner. Includes Sat & wifi, W/D, NO Pets. Fully furn. Avail. now. $200/dep. 406-595-1189

See full ad

ALLOW US TO MANAGE YOUR RENTAL PROPERTY. Your partner in property management. Call Steve Cichon for a free consult. Property Partners of MT 587-9004 www.PropertyPartnersMT.com

See full ad

Single Offices $400 - $550/mo. Office w/conference room. Sean@future-farm.com

See full ad

10 x 20 Storage Garage in Central Bozeman. No electric. $70/month. Call 579-4701

See full ad

Luxury Apartment ***Brand New Spring 2015*** 1652 Tempest Court Starting at $1325/month High Quality Construction Spacious 2 BED & 2 BATH OVER 1100 sq.ft. With many Luxury Upgrades: -St…

See full ad

Prev Next

Total Renovation-Hist. Dist. Lg 3BR, 3BA hm. Call for more info. All R.E. Services in Montana, LLC Jaclyn Katz, Broker 587-8373

See full ad

120 ac. Ranch unique house-borders F.S. & Pioneer Mtns. 406-925-0506 sugarloafcanyon.com .

See full ad

10 acres CAMERON BRIDGE ESTATES corner lot, private well, electric & cross fencing. Linney Road & Waterfowl $199,000. 928-716-3709

See full ad

GOLF COURSE LOT #7 fairway on Bridger Creek. 12,632 S.F. $160,000. Cory Robinson CBRCI Realty 581-4576

See full ad

Prev Next
Loading…