‘White Heron: The Authorized Biography of Janice Bostok’ by Sharon Dean has gone up on The Haiku Foundation website as the ‘Librarian’s Cache’ for the week.
It can be accessed at this link:
As noted by Lorin Ford, ‘this is a piece (a major work!) that will be welcomed and applauded by all Australians at all interested in haiku.’
Jan had a special relationship with Wollumbin/Mount Warning which dominates the Northern Rivers landscape of NSW, the country in which Jan was born and spent most of her life. Her connection to the mountain was profound. In feisty middle age Jan drew herself as the mountain. Mountain as naked woman. Her sketch and accompanying haiku appeared in the first (summer 1994) edition of paper wasp of which Jan was a foundation member and editor.
Late in life, when Jan moved from her beloved Dungay farm, she chose her last home with care. She could not, she explained, live anywhere where she could not see ‘her’ mountain. As with the first people of this land, Jan believed that the mountain was not only her totem, it was her strength and source of energy. I never look at Wollumbin without thinking of Jan.
above the dark earth
Wollumbin’s dawn light
Over the past 15 years I was privileged to work with Janice on many haiku activities including the international promotion of her work. As a tribute I offer this summary paragraph taken from my nomination of her in 2003 for the Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Prize.
Continue reading “Janice M. Bostok Tribute: John Bird”
This news really shakes me up. I am so sad to hear this. For me, Janice occupied a very special place. –Michael McClintock
She was a fine poet who gave much to the haiku community in Australia–and around the world. The haiku community will miss her. Rest in peace, Jan. –Penny Harter
Her poems were threaded with empathy, a sense of discovery, insight and joy. She was an enriching spirit, and we shall greatly miss her. –Katherine Gallagher
Continue reading “Memorial Page for Janice M. Bostok”
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?”
Continue reading “In Memoriam Reflection by Lorin Ford”
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
President Australian Haiku Society 2006-2010
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”