Tribute to 'warmth and humanity' of poet Christo James

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The poet and arts commentator Christopher James Heyworth, known to many of his poetry friends as Christo James, has died suddenly in hospital aged 71. Christo James was a retired college lecturer and schoolteacher who published poems in many magazines and online. His chapbook After Singapore & Other Poems was published in 2003. He was described in the online arts magazine altBlackpool as “hugely passionate advocate for all things artistic and all things Blackpool, and this passion shone through to everyone who met him. During his time writing for altBlackpool he wrote articles on a diverse range of art forms including visual arts … amateur musical theatre productions and, of course, poetry.”

Sarah Miles, of Paper Swans Press, has written this tribute to Christo for Write Out Loud: “Last week, I was very much saddened to learn of the death of Christo James, a familiar and friendly presence in the world of poetry. Whilst I had only met Christo in person twice, he was someone who left an imprint and someone I considered to be a friend.

“I run Paper Swans Press and I first met Christo at the launch of our anthology, Schooldays. He was sitting upstairs in the Poetry Café in Covent Garden and as I went to pay our bill, he leapt up and introduced himself, asking if I was the host of the merriment downstairs and ‘was that Carole Bromley?’ (obviously a fan, and yes, it was!). I can still see him, in his pink blazer, smile on his face and the enthusiasm for poetry and small presses oozing out of him. He gave me his own pamphlet, After Singapore and inscribed it for me.

“Since then, we become good pals on Facebook, as I know he was with many others in the poetry sphere. What made him stand out was his warmth and humanity. Be it a comment online or a personal message, he offered genuine friendship and support as well as a sparky interest in the arts (we had a great discussion once, on Larkin and his place on the school curriculum). Personally, he was a huge advocate of my small press, remaining to this day, the only person that has bought every single thing I’ve published — in fact, I had promised to send him our next book for free. Too late now.

“I know he had suffered sad times in his own life, particularly the death of his daughter, Rebecca, and his wife, Anne, but he remained the positive, cheerful Christo that many in the poetry community, both personally and online, came to know and love. He will be missed and, Christo, wherever you are, we wish you peace and poetry.”

Christo James leaves a stepson, Damian, and stepdaughter-in-law, Alison. His funeral will be held at Carleton crematorium, Stocks Road, Blackpool on 25 August at 11 am.

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