Janice M. Bostok (9 April 1942 - 4 September 2011)


Jan Bostok is considered as the doyenne of Australian haiku. She not only introduced the genre there, but she led workshops, judged competitions, edited journals and anthologies, worked on collaborative projects, and mentored aspiring haiku writers. Jan Bostok was born on 9 April 1942 in Mullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia.  Jan’s interest in haiku was triggered in 1970 when an American pen friend sent her a book of Japanese haiku translated into English. After that Bostok created the first market for haiku in Australia by founding the journal Tweed, which ran for almost a decade. In the 1990s she wrote The Gum Tree Conversations, a series of articles demonstrating the relevance of haiku to the Australian experience and landscape. Janice M. Bostok wrote: "The persistence in continuing to mirror Japanese haiku can be clearly seen when writers stubbornly use cherry blossoms and Buddhist temples in their Australian haiku. The English language is a beautiful language. We should be using it in exciting and modern ways. We write haiku about kookaburras, kangaroos, rotary clothes hoists, holdens, akubras, and the mountains and terrain of our own country. . . .We do not claim to write Japanese haiku.” In 1999 Bostok co-edited The First Australian Haiku Anthology with a fellow haiku writer John Bird. This led to the founding of the Australian Haiku Society in 2000, and the publication of The Second Australian Haiku Anthology (2006).

Jan Bostok had 16 collections of haiku-related work published, and more than 4000 of her individual haiku appeared in journals and anthologies in Australia, the USA, Canada, England, Japan, Romania, Croatia, India, and New Zealand. Her poems have been translated into seven languages. Many featured in unconventional places, carved (by invitation) onto rocks in New Zealand, programmed into computer games in the US and printed on the labels of green tea bottles in Japan. Bostok's work has been translated into seven languages, including Japanese. In 1999 Hiroaki Sato, the Japanese poet, translator and past president of the American Haiku Society, cited 30 of Bostok's one-line haiku in a landmark essay, The Agonies of Translation. Jan Bostok has won many awards, including a Haiku Society of America Book Award in 1974 for outstanding achievement in haiku publication.

Jan was not only devoted to writing haiku, haibun and tanka. Her other interest was sumi-e as she found its main principles very similar to haiku. Towards the end of her life Jan wrote, “I gave up my family's religion and I took up haiku as a religion. Haiku gave me a path that connected me to the sacred mystery in every moment. It calmed me, and the sharing of it was very healing and cathartic, as proven by the warm and wonderful reaction of readers from all over the world. I'd feel people supporting me, even if I'd never met them.” Janice M. Bostok died peacefully in the Murwillumbah Hospital on 4 September 2011 but she will be remembered as one of Australia's leading writers of haiku.

Some of Jan’s haiku:

amongst the graffiti
a tiny violet

in this blue
the scalloped flight
of one swallow

stationary bus
talking we visit places
within each other

summer dusk
day lily petals fold
into night

no money for the busker I try not to listen

morning flying ant wings on the cat's whisker








Katikati Haiku Pathway
photo courtesy of Sandra Simpson.

Two of Janice's haiku have been carved on rocks along the Katikati Haiku Pathway, in Katikati on the North Island of New Zealand.


Books Published:

Banana Leaves Self Published, Australia, 1972. Haiku
Walking Into the Sun Shelters Press, USA, 1974. Haiku
Hearing the Wind Self Published, Australia, 1976. Haiku
On Sparse Brush Makar Gargoyle Poets Series, Australia,1978. Poetry
The Lure proof press, Canada, 1996. folded renga sheet
Silver Path of Moon PostPress, Australia, 1996. Erotic haibun
Still Waters EarthDance, Australia, 1997. Haiku, illustrations by Cornelis Vleeskens
The Farmer Tends His Land Tiny Poems Press, USA, 1997. Solo Renga
Shadow-Patches Hallard Press, New Zealand, 1998. Haibun by Janice Bostok, Catherine Mair and Bernard Gadd
A Splash of Sunlight Self Published, Australia, 1998. Haiku
Dimmed The Mystery Snapshots Press England, 2000. Tanka
Amongst the Graffiti PostPress, Australia, 2003. Collected Haiku and Senryu 1972-2002

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