Tributes: Dr Jacqui Murray

Dr Jacqui Murray: Patron of the Australian Haiku Society, spent many years running the JAL Children’s Haiku Contests in Australia, thus forging a generation of enthusiastic and talented haiku poets.
Alongside her many achievements in the promotion of haiku in this country and overseas she also co-edited The Third Australian Haiku Anthology (paperwasp:2011) and the anthology still heading out: an anthology of Australian and New Zealand haiku, two remarkable collections amongst others that she was instrumental in producing.

In supporting and championing haiku writing in Australia, Jacqui did extraordinary work in co-founding paper wasp — a long-running Australian haiku print journal – in 1994, together with John Knight and Ross Clark. The paper wasp team was soon joined by Katherine Samuelowicz, with whom I was an occasional editor. The last special issue of paper wasp was published in 2016 for haiku with an Australian flavour or theme.

Although severely ill for the final years of her life Jacqui was able to keep alive the ideals in furthering the development of haiku in Australia. She was always kind, patient and supportive.

without regret
they fall and scatter
cherry blossoms

Issa (1821)

Cynthia Rowe (Past President [2011-2016], Australian Haiku Society)

Please post your tributes in the comments section below. Comments will remain open for two weeks.

9 thoughts on “Tributes: Dr Jacqui Murray”

  1. More than ten years ago, for roughly a year of my PhD candidature, Jacqui was my external associate supervisor. We’d discuss haiku sitting under the poincianas outside the pub at Brunswick Heads, or in the beautiful Ocean Shores home she shared with her devoted husband Alan and their beloved feline fur baby Smudge.

    My memories of Jacqui are intense and multi-faceted; she was always incredibly kind to me, and struck me as fiercely articulate, deeply compassionate, and keenly attuned to the natural world. When Jacqui wasn’t giving various government ministers a serve, writing a speech for a book launch or brainstorming ways to alleviate social and economic issues as a key member of an independent think tank, she would be watching floodwaters rise and inventing ways to make sandbags, or stitching a handmade quilt to raise money for bushfire appeals. Once I learned more about her life, I was in awe of her personal courage.

    The official tribute at the top of this webpage presents some of the formal highlights from Jacqui’s immense contribution to Australian haiku. What I’d love to add here is how much it meant to haiku writers in the Northern Rivers that Jacqui was present at the first Cloudcatchers gathering in Brunswick Heads in 2005, and also that with fellow haiku writer Jan Bostok, Jacqui wrote Stonewashed Moon, a linked-verse collaboration believed to be the first one-hundred-verse renga written in English.

    I loved listening to Jacqui talk about haiku. In a speech she presented at the 2007 Byron Bay Writers’ Festival, at the launch of Sand Between the Toes: Haiku from Byron Bay and Beyond, she described haiku as “bright spotlights on nature”, referring to the way they “demand that we look, that we see beyond our own minds … [and in doing so] demand of us consideration … of, as much as anything else, humanity’s place in a world where our planet’s welfare … is our own”. Haiku, Jacqui explained, ask us to “look beyond ourselves and respect what we see”.

    Jacqui didn’t often write haibun, but back in 2008 gave me one she’d written in Japan. I have no idea if this particular haibun was ever published, but I do know Jacqui was happily sending it out into the world for potential public viewing. So here it is, perhaps blinking in the light of day for the first time, a testament to the heightened sensitivity that served Jacqui so well not only in her writing, but also in her life.

    Yama nobe no michi

    The embrace of autumn in Japan is wholehearted. With the passing of summer’s flowers autumn rolls down this long land of islands, spreading its glories first across the narrows of the north, where it lingers for only a little while before being chased on by the early breath of the Arctic. It proceeds in quite regal splendour south until, reaching the Pacific and China seas, it burns itself out under a tropical sun. Autumn is now in central Japan where the harvest is in, peas spread on mats dry in the sunshine of farm yards and garish clusters of persimmons hang under the eaves of solid houses. Hillside orchards are delivering up their fruit to tiny vehicles plying steeply winding tracks.

    gourd-faced old farmer
    bolt upright on red scooter
    trees sway and sigh

    Below lie neat paddy fields and beyond them the industrial plain of yet another smog burdened sprawl of city. On this ancient track at the foot of the mountains, the Yama nobe no michi, I turn my eyes back to the path as it curves around a stand of swamp bamboo to reveal a small lake looking oddly wild and restful against the rising backdrop of mountain forest.

    I drink in
    the lake’s peace with the water
    from my flask

    before winding on between more paddy fields and orchards where the last of the orange persimmons cling bold to stark trees. The sun is now full risen unseasonably fierce and bounces hot from one of the many huge upright rocks carved with the words of much greater poets who trod this earth before me.

    sorely tested by that
    shiki shiki bird

    I turn off the track and upwards on hundreds of steps of a cool forested staircase, relishing the increasing cool and peace the higher I climb. Then suddenly my eyes swing shut against the white of a wide forecourt and dazzling display of huge rosettes and minute chrysanthemum of a traditional autumn bonsai contest.

    row upon row
    of bonsai prizes bake in
    unexpected sun

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for this tribute Sharon. What a privilege it must have been to know Jacqui and discuss haiku with her. She leaves an important legacy for Australian haiku which this tribute, along with all the others, underscores. Thank you again.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s very sad to know that Jacqui Murray has passed away after severe illness. John Bird introduced me to Jacqui and her
    husband, in 2008 (I think it was 2008! ) among others, at a lovely old-fashioned pub on the way to John and Wyn’s home. As a teacher, Jacqui had attended a JAL haiku writing event for children in 1990, which led to the Paper Wasp haiku journal and,also, the Paper Wasp Jack Stamm Awards. (See Jacqui’s ‘Perspectives on History – Haiku History 1980 -‘ here:

    Click to access perspectives-on-history-haiku-history-1980-on-by-jacqui-murray.pdf

    Jacqui was General Editor for ‘the Second Australian Haiku Anthology ‘(2006)and, with Katherine Samuelowicz, editor of the ‘Third Australian Haiku Anthology’ (2011) and ‘Still Heading Out – An Anthology of Australian and New Zealand Haiku’ (2013), all of which I’m honoured to have some of my haiku in. Jacqui also edited the Paper Wasp Jack Stamm anthologies, of which I still have the 6th (2004),7th (2005) 8th (2006), 9th (2007) and 10th (2009) on my bookshelves. (I was lucky enough to be awarded equal first prize with Jeffrey Harpeng for the 6th and first prize for the 7th.)
    I wish that all of the on-line pages relating to the Paper Wasp Jack Stamm Competitions had been preserved.
    Jacqui was a supportive presence, encouraging me in my own efforts to provide a journal for haiku and related poetry.
    She won’t be forgotten.


  3. I’ve had email contact with Jacqui over the years as our haiku interests intersected here and there, so am very sorry to hear this news. I was honoured to have my work included in ‘still heading out’. My condolences to her family and friends.
    Sandra Simpson


  4. Vale Jacqui, I never had privilege to meet you.
    I was featured in ‘still heading out’ where you were one of the editors. Your expertise and talent will be sadly missed.


  5. I never got to meet Jacqui in person as I left for Britain at the same time I was invited, alongside Janice Bostok, to be a member of the Brisbane haiku group ‘paper wasp’. So many things happened, as we know, during the mid-to-late 1990s which culminated into this incredible Australian Haiku Society, an international Paper wasp group and journal, and those haiku anthologies.

    So many great people forged ahead and Jacqui was one of those wondrous people! Thank you Jacqui, and I treasure our correspondences, and you are still greatly missed.

    three white-faced heron

    and are lost in blue

    Alan Summers
Commission: The Beggar King performance haibun
    (Bristol Old Vic Theatre, England October 2003)

    Anthology: First Australian Haiku Anthology (Paper Wasp 2003)
    Collection: sundog, an australian year (sunfast press 1997 second print 1998)

    dusk at the golf club
    part of a marker pole
    a tawny frogmouth

    Alan Summers
    1st Prize, Fellowship of Australian Writers, Queensland, Haiku Competition, (June 1995)
    Anthology credit: First Australian Haiku Online Anthology (October 1999)

    I bet you are still ‘marking’ papers with your cat, up at midnight and every other golden hour!

    cat and coffee marking midnight papers

    Jacqui Murray

    thank you so much for all that you have done, and that so many of us continue to reap those benefits you laid before us.


    Alan Summers
    founder, Call of the Page

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My condolences to the Australian poetry community.
    I’m a writer from Mumbai, India, and very keen to contact any member of Dr Murray’s family or close friends. Please do get in touch if you see this?

    Liked by 1 person

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