Chris Boultwood (22 May 1952 – 13 January 2024)

Chris Boultwood, who died in January after a long battle with cancer, was born in Croydon Hospital and grew up in Norbury, South London. Chris was educated at Dulwich College, and Kings College, Cambridge, where he read physical anthropology, a subject which led to a lifelong love of gorillas. He started work for IBM straight from university, and stayed with them for nearly 40 years working on many different projects, with a variety of clients. After he retired from IBM, he went on to work for the British Council, followed by the University of Manchester, and finally UKBiobank, where he was their Chief Information Officer.

Chris had a long-standing interest in poetry and particularly in Japanese literature and culture. He became a member of the Yorkshire and Lancashire haiku group in the early 2000s, serving as the group’s joint convenor, with Sheila Butterworth, between December 2007 and May 2019. His kindness, efficiency and commitment to the group are remembered with great affection by its members. From January 2010 to shortly before his death, Chris was responsible for the Presence website which he developed as a valuable resource for poets worldwide. Later on that same year he also took the role of administrator for the annual award. His quiet competence was a great source of support to me.

Chris 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 other’s work, he was a sever critic of his own, with the result that haiku which were publishable didn’t reach a wider audience.

Chris Boultwood is survived by his wife, Anne, Daughter, Deborah, and grandchildren, Sam, Noah and Orla.

Written by Ian Storr (first published in Presence 78, March 2024)

Selected work:

tangled undergrowth conceals a KitKat wrapper

     (World Haiku Review - Autumn 2003)


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

     (Blithe Spirit 13:2, June 2003)


back home
the evening darkens
into rain

     (Presence 22 (2004), Editor’s Choice)


by the tarn
as the wind dies

     (Blithe Spirit 15:2, June 2005)


that clarity of light
a storm brings

     (Presence 56, October 2016)

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 Jones (published in Simply Haiku: A Quarterly Journal of Japanese Short Form Poetry 6:2 (Summer 2008).
  • “Wild Violets” by Chris Boultwood, Martin Lucas, Stewart Metcalfe, Helen Robinson, Fred Schofield, Ian Storr, Jane Sunderland, and Ann Thomas (published in Presence 41 (May 2010).


Presence 78, March 2024, p.116