In Memoriam Reflection by Lorin Ford

Vale Janice M. Bostok

After reading the sad news that Jan Bostok had passed away, I sat down and reflected on the strange but true story of how we didn’t meet back in the early 60s. This story came to light not long before the Second Australian Haiku Anthology went to press. Jan, with an uncanny perspicacity, had noted ‘something American’ about my haiku. This, she later told me, was because her own haiku beginnings had been encouraged by American haiku writers such as Marlene Mountain and Bill Higginson and she’d recognized something of a common style, but at the time I wrote back giving the details of where I was born and where I’d lived, hoping to prove I really was Australian and my work would be considered for the anthology.

Jan wrote back, “The hair on my neck is standing on end! Did you know my husband, Silvester?”

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Janice Bostok Tribute: Beverley George

Since news of Janice’s passing, I have sifted through her poetry and sumi-e, but it is the stories of her life recounted in conversations, and sometimes in the afterwords of her books, that have most possessed my mind. Hers was an indomitable, independent spirit, balanced by an almost surprising gentleness. I remain grateful to her for years of support in her role as senior adviser for haiku and related genres in Yellow Moon, and for her friendship.

Janice’s poetic voice was original and resonant. It is fitting that my tribute to her should be in her own words. This tanka was published in Two Thirds of Why Impressed Publishing, 2004 and another version of it in Songs Once Sung Post Pressed, 2004.

from the darkness
a cicada’s brittle shell
breaks away in wind
your voice now tightly grips
through whirlwinds of memory

Beverley George
President Australian Haiku Society 2006-2010



Janice M Bostok: biographer Sharon Dean

Janice M Bostok’s contribution to the development of Australian haiku is immense. After learning about the genre from an American pen friend in the late 1960s, Jan created the first market for haiku in Australia by founding the journalTweed. In the 1990s she wrote “The Gum Tree Conversations”, the first series of articles to demonstrate the relevance of haiku to the Australian experience and landscape. Embracing the internet in 1999, Jan then co-edited the First Australian Haiku Anthology with fellow haiku writer John Bird, which led in 2000 to the founding of the Australian Haiku Society (Haiku Oz), and then in 2006 to the publication of the Second Australian Haiku Anthology.

In a haiku career that spanned more than forty years, Jan had sixteen collections of haiku-related work published. Meanwhile, more than four thousand of her individual haiku appeared in journals and anthologies in Australia and overseas, with many featuring in unconventional places, having been carved by invitation onto rocks in New Zealand, programmed into computer games in America, and printed on the labels of green tea bottles in Japan. Her work also won numerous awards, including a Haiku Society of America Book Award in 1974 for outstanding achievement in the field of haiku publication, as well as the prize of which she was most proud: first place in the UK’s Seashell Game for most popular haiku published in English in 2002.

Jan’s work has been translated into several languages, including Japanese. In 1999, Hiroaki Sato, the Japanese poet, translator and past president of the American Haiku Society, cited thirty of Jan’s one-line haiku in his essay “The Agonies of Translation”, while the Japanese artist Takejiro Nojima was so inspired by Jan’s haiku that he rendered a selection in calligraphy, several examples of which are now held in a collection at the Tweed River Regional Art Gallery.

Continue reading “Janice M Bostok: biographer Sharon Dean”