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Janice M. Bostok

Janice M. Bostok

April 9, 1942 - September 4, 2011

Janice M. Bostok was born in Mullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia.  As Australia’s pioneer haiku poet, she edited and published that country's first haiku magazine Tweed from 1972–1979.  For over 40 years, her work was published worldwide and translated into at least seven other languages.  She edited, taught workshops, judged international haiku competitions, and mentored many writers.  She was co-founder and Patron of HaikuOz.  She enjoyed all haiku-related forms and was a practicing sumi-e painter, as well as other styles and mediums.  In New Zealand, Janice was affectionately known as the Haiku Missionary.  Just a few of her many involvements in the haiku community included serving as a Panelist for the Touchstone Poem Awards.  She was Poetry Editor for Scope -- the magazine of the Fellowship of Australian Writers Queensland; Haiku Editor of Hobo Poetry Magazine; Co-editor of Paper Wasp haiku journal; Joint editor of the First Australian Haiku Anthology; and South Pacific Editor for the Red Moon Anthology series.  Janice taught haiku and its related forms in Australia and overseas for all age groups.  Her articles and reviews were published in most of the relevant magazines.

We respectfully preserve the following, written in her own words for her website:

 ~ my story ~ I was born Janice Mae Irvine, in Mullumbimby, New South Wales, Australia, in 1942.  I left school at fourteen and enrolled in a secretarial course.  In 1960 I left home and travelled to Melbourne, looking for work.  I worked for the Defence Department, The Department of Supply, and the Victorian State Tourist Development Authority.  In 1964 I married Silvester Bostok and moved to Cann River in Victoria.  I have three children, one daughter and two sons.  One son is intellectually handicapped.
     We moved to Dungay, in the hills behind Murwillumbah in 1967.  We bought a banana plantation and grew bananas.  My husband and I divorced in 1981, but remarried in 1986.  Today we are retired and still live on the property near Murwillumbah.
     My interest in haiku was triggered in 1970 when an American pen friend sent me a Peter Pauper book of Japanese haiku in English translation.  I had written some personal experience articles which had been published in the Australian Women's Weekly, as Reader's Stories.  I had also been writing free verse.  I found, however, that the short haiku poem from Japan (via the USA) had a greater affect on me than any longer verse that I had read at that time.   I immediately began to write haiku and to my surprise they were accepted for publication in American haiku magazines.  My first efforts were not as good as I imagined, but by their acceptance I was encouraged to continue writing and studying haiku in English.
     In 1972 I began to edit and publish the first magazine in Australia which was devoted to haiku. Tweed was published from Murwillumbah in northern New South Wales from 1972 - 1979.  The reason for discontinuing Tweed was the lack of interest in haiku by Australian writers.  Tweed was supported by many American haiku poets.  I believe Tweed was simply before its time.  There were not enough Australians writing and studying haiku to warrant the publication of a magazine devoted to the form.
     Between 1980 - 1986 I studied and received a Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in English Literature, from the University of Queensland.  During this period I did not seek publication.  Since 1988 I have, once again, been published in many international English language haiku magazines.
     My other interest is sumi-e.  I try to adapt some of its principles to my western sketches.  Similar to the principles of haiku, sumi brush strokes are few and carefully placed.  The use of white space is important to the composition of the painting, just as is the many words left unsaid in the haiku poem.
     If anyone is interested in reading about the history of the development of haiku in English it is recorded in a book published by the Haiku Society of America, called: A Haiku Path -- 1968-1988.  My own history and that of Tweed can also be found recorded in this volume.  I belong to the Haiku Society of America; The British Haiku Association; Ginyu, A Japanese Haiku Club; Paper Wasp Haiku Group, Australia; The Fellowship of Australian Writers Queensland Inc; and the Poetry Society of New Zealand.

Awards and Other Honors: An incomplete list includes:  Seventh Prize, Haiku Society of America Book Award for Walking into the Sun (Shelters Press, 1974); Kusamakura Contest (1996); Hiroaki Sato cited 30 of Bostok's one-line haiku in his essay, "The Agonies of Translation" (1999); Honorable Mention, World Haiku Poems Competition (2000); First Place in Britain's Seashell Game, a competition for most popular haiku published in English in 2002; Runner-up and Work of Merit, The Second R.H. Blyth Award (World Haiku Club, 2003).  Janice also placed in the Itoen Tea Company Haiku Competition and had one of her haiku printed on their can of iced tea -- on sale throughout Japan.  She was one of 45 poets whose work was selected for the video/computer game Haiku Journey.  Two of her haiku have been carved on rocks in a Council park in the mural town of Katikati, in the north island of New Zealand, known as the Katikati Haiku Pathway.  In 2003, she was nominated for the Masaoka Shiki International Haiku Prize.

Books Published: Banana Leaves (Australia, 1972); Walking Into the Sun (Shelters Press, USA, 1974); Hearing the Wind (Australia, 1976); On Sparse Brush (Makar Gargoyle Poets Series, Australia,1978); 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 (Australia, 1998); Dimmed The Mystery (Snapshots Press England, 2000) [Tanka]; Amongst the Graffiti [Collected Haiku and Senryu 1972-2002] (PostPress, Australia, 2003).

Selected Work
pregnant again
the fluttering of moths
against the window
test negative I decide to keep my promise anyway
fetching firewood
I open the door
to moonlight
hearing nothing
hearing the wind  …
hearing     only the wind
the warbler’s note
stuck on dawn
cat comes
low through the window
     bringing dusk
in this blue
the scalloped flight
of one swallow
first venus then star by star the night deepens
pheasant drumming
in time with the blood
pounding in my ears
one world ends
at the edge
of the porch light

Credits: "pregnant again" - Haiku Magazine 6:1–2 (1974); Frogpond III:2 (1980); Bostok, Walking into the Sun; van den Heuvel, The Haiku Anthology [Second Edition] (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1986); A Haiku Path: The Haiku Society of America, 1968-1988 (Haiku Society of America, 1994); Haïku sans frontières (Web); Bostok Web site; Savina, International Anthology; First Australian Haiku Anthology [] (1999); "fetching firewood" - First Australian Haiku Anthology [] (1999); Paper Wasp (1999); Paper Wasp Web site; Bostok Website; Honorable Mention, World Haiku Poems Competition (2000); "daylight" - Amongst the Graffiti (Post Pressed, 2003); Montage #8 (The Haiku Foundation, April 2009); Burns, Montage: The Book (The Haiku Foundation, 2010); "in this blue" - First Australian Haiku Anthology [] (1999); (2001); Montage #8 (The Haiku Foundation, April 2009); Montage: The Book (The Haiku Foundation, 2010): "pheasant drumming" - Higginson, Haiku World: An International Poetry Almanac (Tokyo: Kodansha International, 1996); "test negative" - ant ant ant ant ant 3 (1998); snow on the water: The Red Moon Anthology of English-Language Haiku 1998 (Red Moon Press, 1999); "hearing nothing" - Bostok, Hearing the Wind; Bonsai 2:1 (1977); "cat comes" - Savina, International Anthology 48; Kusamakura Contest (1996); "first venus" - Famous Reporter 17; Intersections: 1999 Members' Anthology (Haiku Society of America, 1999); "one world ends" - Bostok, Walking into the Sun; A Haiku Path: The Haiku Society of America, 1968-1988 (Haiku Society of America, 1994).

Sources Biography: Appreciation is expressed to (and more information may be found at the web addresses provided): HaikuOz, The Australian Haiku Society [] Sharon Dean, The Sydney Morning Herald (September 14, 2011), for information contained in "Catching the essence of life in a single breath" []; the online journal haijinx []; Jane Reichhold's AHA Poetry website []; and to  Charles Trumbull and Allan Burns for assistance in gathering representative haiku and publication credits.

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