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Librarian’s Cache: Poet of the Month – Janice Bostok

Janice Bostok made significant contributions to the development of Australian haiku. A thesis about her life states that after learning about the genre from an American pen friend in the late 1960s, Bostok created the first market for haiku in Australia by founding the journal Tweed.

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. In 1999, she and John Bird edited the First Australian Haiku Anthology, which led in 2000 to the founding of the Australian Haiku Society (Haiku Oz).

More than four thousand of her haiku were published and she won many awards, edited journals, mentored two generations of haiku writers, judged national and international haiku competitions, and conducted numerous haiku workshops.

Two examples of her haiku include:

stationary bus
talking we visit places
within each other

half a magpie’s note
drops off into the sound
of the surf

Some of the books in the Digital Library about her and her poetry include:

Never Really Mine. A Posthumous Collection of the Haiku of Janice M. Bostok. Edited by Jim Kacian. Red Moon Press, 2011.

White Heron: The Authorised Biography of Australia’s Pioneering Haiku Writer Janice M. Bostok. School of Humanities, Arts, Education and Law, Griffith University, 2011. A thesis submitted by Sharon Elyse Dean in fulfilment of the requirements of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, 464 pages, with bibliography.

Amongst the Graffiti: Collected Haiku and Senryu, 1972—2002. Post Press, 2003. Bostok did her own illustrations and followed the poems with an account of her life involvement with haiku entitled A Haiku Journey.

First Australian Haiku Anthology. Bird, John (editor), Bostok, Janice M. (editor), Murray, Jacqui (book editor). Paper Wasp, 2003.

Poet Profiles: Janice Bostok. AHA Poetry, 2001. Ty Hadman’s appreciation of the groundbreaking Australian haiku poet, Janice Bostok.

Dimmed the Mystery: A Collection of Tanka by Australian poet Janice M. Bostok. Snapshot Press, 2000.

Shadow Patches: A Book of Haibun by Janice Bostok, Bernard Gadd and Catherine Mair. Hallard Press, 1998.

Still Waters: A Book of Haiku by Janice Bostok. Earthdance, 1997.

The Farmer Tends His Land: A Book of Haiku by Janice Bostok. Tiny Poems Press, 1997.

Silver Path of the Moon: A Book of the Haibun of Janice Bostok. Post Pressed, 1996.

Walking into the Sun: A Book of Haiku by Janice Bostok. Shelters Press, 1974.

Thanks for reading,
Dan Campbell

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I missed this article until today! Many thanks, Dan, for archiving these books and articles I was aware that the late Garry Eaton planned to do something like this with Jan Bostok’s work..
    I ‘met’ Jan by email after sending a submission for the Second Australian Haiku Anthology . Jan wrote to tell me that the anthology was for Australians only, so my submission wouldn’t be considered. (!!!) Since I am Australian and have only been out of the country once in my entire life, I was confounded. I quickly wrote back giving details : where I was born and where I’d lived. My father had run the Cann River hotel from when I was 9 . (Cann River was/is a remote timber town in Victoria) I received a quick response with (much to my surprise) the query “Did you know my husband” and an attached wedding photo : Jan and Silvester ( Bostok!) I’d known Silvester but I’d never known his surname. He was a quiet, polite young immigrant who became foreman of one of the five mills in the town. Jan wrote that Cann River was the last place on earth she would’ve thought anyone who wrote haiku would’ve come from! (Obviously not taking herself into account, as she’d lived there for several years, before convincing Silvester to move to Queensland.) Jan didn’t write haiku while there either, but did write short stories for woman’s magazines. Anyway, I did have haiku accepted for the anthology, published by Paper Waspin 2006. Jan also was kind enough to have a look at my MS when I was putting my little book, A Wattle Seedpod,/i>, together and suggest which haiku I might keep and which I could lose.
    It wasn’t until 2009 that I actually met Jan in the flesh, at ‘Wind Over Water’ (the 4th Haiku Pacific RIM Conference) – organised and convened by Beverley George. We both had our Cann River stories. We both left school at age 14. It was great to meet her.
    “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.” – Janice M. Bostok
    bushfire country all the brick chimneys standing
    -Janice M. Bostok –
    Amongst the Graffiti, Post Pressed, QLD, 3rd reprint, 2005.

  2. Although I never knew her, Janice Bostok led me to haiku poetry. I read her obituary in the “Sydney Morning Herald” newspaper (September 2011) with amazement and awe to learn that this poet of international reputation was Australian. I was embarrassed to think I’d never heard of her, and I didn’t know much about haiku either. It wasn’t taught at the schools I attended. I resolved to seek out more information about haiku, and did so, for which I’ll be forever grateful. I love her poetry, and remain in awe of her ability. She was a true pioneer. Thank you, Dan, for the list of books about Janice and her work.

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