Kris Hemensley

Kris Hemensley at Collected Works Bookshop photo: Francesca Jurate Sasnaitis

Kris Hemensly was born on the isle of Wight, England in 1946. He is the son of an Egyptian mother and an English father and spent his initial years in Alexandria, Egypt. Back in England for his teenage years, he developed a facility for literature, but left school early. He took a job on the Fairstar boat, which docked in Melbourne, Australia. He was impressed by the city and moved to Melbourne as an assisted immigrant in 1966.

He became involved in the poetry and theatre scenes in the 1960s and 1970s, partly due to meeting Loretta Garvey, later to become his wife. He edited various independent literary magazines, including Our Glass and The Ear in a Wheatfield. He was the poetry editor for Meanjin from 1976-1978.

In 1984 a group of Melbourne writers set up a small publishers' collective, funded under an employment scheme by the government, to train people in the making, distributing and marketing of books. This folded, but a smaller group of participants opened Collected Works bookshop in Smith St, Collingwood. As people drifted away into different lives, Kris and Loretta became the focus of the bookshop. It has had several homes over the years, the most recent in the Nicholas building in Melbourne’s CBD. The variety of poetry in the shop is extraordinary and wide ranging. In 2018 the shop closed and became an appointment only affair run out of the family premises.

Hemensley documents.       Hemensley poem

Hemensly at collected works

UMA 005.0004.01183 unit 168.  Poetry reading at Collected works bookshop in the Nicholas Building.