Charles Watts was curator of Special Collections in Simon Fraser University’s library from 1980-1997. A man of rare enthusiasm and energy, he is credited with having built SFU’s contemporary literature collection into one of the best on the continent. In 1995, he and Edward Byrne organised a conference in honour of Robin Blaser and later edited a collection of essays under the same title The Recovery of the Public World (Talonbooks 1998). He published one book of his own poetry, Bread and Wine (Tantrum 1987), and a number of essays and papers in journals. At the time of his death he was working on a PhD thesis on Herman Melville.
Of his vocation, Watts said: “I consider my real graduate education to have begun when I became curator of the contemporary literature collection, I began to know something in detail of the energy, the remarkable production of work by North American poets writing since the end of the Second World War, both of little magazines and books.”
Watts was raised in Roseville, California, and came to Canada for Masters studies under Robin Blaser at SFU. Blaser remembers that “Charles had a genius for companionship and drew others to him. He was a key figure in the writing community, particularly in Vancouver.”