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Business Poetry Winner: Dr Lew Watts (BSc 1974)

Dr Lew Watts (BSc 1975)

Dr Lew Watts (BSc 1974)

27 November 2014

Dr Lew Watts (BSc 1974) was both the winner and the runner up in the Financial Times’ haiku competition within the ‘business travel’ category.

Lew has had a 35-year career within the energy industry and delivered a sell-out lecture on fracking in May to an audience of fascinated and engaged Bristol alumni. But few among the audience may have known the Geology graduate is also the author of beautiful poetry. His latest collection is Lessons for Tangueros and appeared in 2011.

Early haiku in English comprised seventeen syllables, as with the classic Japanese forms. But since syllables in English are much longer, most contemporary English language haiku are shorter, as in Lew’s winning haiku about a business flight:

slow descent –
this sudden urge to share
life stories


Lew was praised highly by the competition judge, Jima Kacian: ‘what might have been for us an insular flight becomes, at the last moment, an opportunity to find, even among strangers, a common humanity. This assertion of what matters most to us is triggered by a moment’s anxiety, suggesting such things lie much nearer to the surface than we normally allow, and perfectly caught in this small gem.’