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Chris Boultwood

Chris Boultwood
Photo from his website

Chris Boultwood (born May 22, 1952, Mayday (Croydon) Hospital, Thornton Heath, London, England; died January 13, 2024), information technology engineer, designer, and administrator, haikai poet, and amateur photographer. He published his poetry sparingly, almost exclusively in the British journals Blithe Spirit and Presence. He was active in the Yorkshire and Lancashire haiku group and served as webmaster for Presence for many years. Last resided in Chester, Cheshire, England.


Background

Chris Boultwood was born in South London, and grew up in the section of Norbury. He attended Dulwich College, a private boys school, and Kings College, Cambridge, where he was awarded a bachelor of arts with honors in physical anthropology in 1973. Upon graduation he joined the IBM UK corporation, but he also pursued graduate studies and received a master of arts degree in 1977.

Boultwood remained with IBM for nearly 40 years working in a variety of positions: information technology (IT) systems engineer, regional office systems specialist in the north of England and Scotland; Complex System Design Group; and IT architect. In 2011 he joined the IT Strategy and Architecture team of the British Council and later worked for the University of Manchester, and finally chief information officer for UKBiobank, a biomedical database and resource for healthcare research.

Boultwood and Haiku

Chris Boultwood had a longstanding avocational interest in poetry as well as Japanese literature and culture. He was a member of the British Haiku Society and joined the Yorkshire and Lancashire Group soon after its formation in 1999. He was also a member of the Haiku Society of America from 2003. He was closely associated with the leading British journal Presence. He served as guest editor for issue #26 (June 2005), and was responsible for its website and provided editorial support from January 2010 until shortly before his death. He also served as coordinator for Presence’s Martin Lucas Haiku Award from 2010 until 2023.

In the obituary he wrote for his friend and colleague, Presence Editor Ian Storr suggested some reasons why Boultwood was not more widely published:

[He] had over two dozen haiku published in either Blithe Spirit or Presence between 2003 and 2009. After this, with one exception, he seemed to have stopped sending out submissions although he continued to write and present his poems to the regular group meetings. Generous in his opinion of others’ work, he was a severe critic of his own, with the result that haiku which were publishable didn’t reach a wider audience.

Boultwood’s haikai, especially in the early years, were often enigmatic, descriptive of a small scene and of a significance that the reader can only guess at. The poems are tinged with sadness or loneliness—what the Japanese call sabi:

no more wine
clearing up after dinner
one chair out of place1

a year gone
the half-heard cry of gulls
the wind on the hillside1

light falls on the lake
a child’s arm curves through the air
to skim a pebble1

riding the metro
past bare black trees into town
no face in the crowd2

back home
the evening darkens
into rain3

by the tarn
as the wind dies
birdsong4

news of a death—
in the school cloakroom
the smell of paint5

in a beech wood
I grow nostalgic
for the things we haven’t done5

unspoken—
that clarity of light
a storm brings6

late lambing—
a crow caws
from the old quarry7

Still, Boultwood could display a sense of humor, favoring irony:

autumn evening
halfway through tidying up
the mess is worse8

typical—
the cat across my path
merely tabby8

zen therapy
the sound of one duck quacking
down by the river9

Sunday morning
cigarette smoke rises
to the sound of bells10

autumn—
switching on the headlight
as I leave for work11

Besides haiku and senryu, Chris Boultwood occasionally participated in the writing of collaborative linked verse. At least two jūnicho (12-link renku) were published: “Winter Moon” by Joanna Ashwell, Chris Boultwood, John Carley (sabaki), and Colin Stewart Jones12; and “Wild Violets” by Chris Boultwood, Martin Lucas, Stewart Metcalfe, Helen Robinson, Fred Schofield, Ian Storr, Jane Sunderland, and Ann Thomas.13

Boultwood last resided in Chester, England, and was survived by his wife, daughter, and three grandchildren.

Compiled by the Haikupedia Editors

Sources / Further Reading


Notes

  1. Blithe Spirit 13:2 (June 2003). [] [] []
  2. Blithe Spirit 13:3 (September 2003). []
  3. Presence 22 (2004), Editor’s Choice. []
  4. Blithe Spirit 15:2 (June 2005). []
  5. Presence 27 (September 2005). [] []
  6. Presence 56 (October 2016). []
  7. Presence 39 (September 2009). []
  8. Blithe Spirit 13:4 (December 2003). [] []
  9. Presence 22 (January 2004). []
  10. Presence 24 (September 2004). []
  11. Presence 28 (January 2006). []
  12. Composed via email February 20–April 14, 2008 and published in Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry 6:2 (Summer 2008). []
  13. Completed in Boultwood’s home town of Chester on January 30, 2010 and published in Presence 41 (May 2010), 36. []
Updated on June 13, 2024