Johan van Wyk was born in Jansen Street, in the suburb Dagbreek of the mining town, Welkom in 1956. The family moved to Mozambique in about 1968, and he continued his schooling at
The family moved to Mozambique in about 1968, and he continued his schooling at Bothashof in Salisbury (now Harare), Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe). The family returned to South Africa around 1972/3 and he enrolled as a first year at the Rand Afrikaans University in 1974. He changed to study at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1975, leaving the university at the end of 1976, fleeing the country as
He changed to study at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1975, leaving the university at the end of 1976, fleeing the country as objector to military service.
His first volume of poetry Deur die oog van die luiperd was published in 1976. He lived in Swaziland in a tent for a few months and was arrested during a return to his parents farm in 1977. He was in military prison
He was in military prison 3 for a day and during a breakdown was taken to the military hospital where he was for a few weeks. He was returned to prison where he eventually agreed to join the army, knowing that without basic training he would be sent back home, which would give him the opportunity to seek outside help from psychologists and enroll at the university again. He was eventually discharged from military duty based on his psychological condition.
He returned to university and completed his BA and Hons degree. He then enrolled at Rhodes University for an MA degree, which was eventually changed into a Ph.D. The MA had as its topic Die dood, die minnaar en die Oedipale Struktuur in die Ingrid Jonker-teks. His second (Heldedade kom nie dikwels voor nie 1978 ) and third volumes of poetry (Bome gaan dood om jou 1981) appeared. He was appointed as a junior lecturer in Afrikaans at the University of Durban-Westville in 1983. He left in 1988 and was appointed again in 1990.
In 1989 he compiled, with Pieter Conradie and Nic Konstandaras, the anthology SA in poësie/ SA in poetry. After returning to the University of Durban-Westville, he soon became the director of the newly established Center for the study of Southern African literature and languages until promoted to the position Head of the School of Languages. In 1996 his fourth volume Oë in ‘n kas: Aantekeninge van ‘n onbewuste appeared.
He married Elizabeth Brazelle Grobler in 1985 and had two children, Andreas and Katrina, with her. He also has a child, Tembelani, with Spilile Ndlela. His English novel Man Bitch(2001) is about the people of the Point Area, in Durban. He had a stroke in 2002, and about two months later was attacked in his flat by a lover. His output diminished dramatically after this. The photo book Trollop slaap te veel was published belatedly in 2006.