Kris Hemensley’s My Life in Theatre

Sleeve Notes:  Hris Hemensley’s My Life in Theatre

Of writing poetry Kris Hemensley says, “It’s an existential act, it’s vocational, a necessity, a way of working things out.” From the tangle of secret gardens, through the nearly unbearably tender to the surrealism of urban directions, Kris Hemensley dispenses something that closely approximates wisdom – of the kind and funny variety.  In 2005 Jane Sullivan writing about Hemensley being awarded the prestigious Christopher Brennan Award for poetry, noted that this was despite his reluctance to publish a new book ( he has some twenty published and out of print) and remarked, a little wistfully,  ‘Perhaps some enterprising editor might persuade him to bring out his own collected works.’  This new collection, with an incubation period of three decades, does just that.

Biographical Note

Originally a playwright as well as a poet, Kris Hemensley was active on both the Melbourne and English “new poetry” scenes in the ’60s and ’70s. His poetry and prose writing continues to reflect the idiom and topography of both milieu although he has gradually moved from an ‘avant garde’ to a ‘traditional’ relationship to language & subject. A commentator on ABC Radio’s Books and Writing in the late ’70s, and a correspondent briefly for PN Review (UK) in the late ’90s, Kris Hemensley has been regarded as an ‘internationalist’. Represented in several anthologies, including The New Australian Poetry and Australian Religious Verse, his major books include a selected earlier poems, Domestication (1974); The Poem of the Clear Eye (1975) and A Mile From Poetry (1979). Since the late ’60s Kris has always edited his own magazines (the Earth Ship series included The Ear In a Wheatfield (1973-76) and culminated with H/EAR (1981-86). In recent times he posts regularly on his poetry archive/magazine at He coordinates the activities of the poetry and ideas bookshop, Collected Works. He was awarded the Christopher Brennan Award in 2004.


The text for these poems is also embedded in the ‘lyric’ sections of this CDs audio tracks.

Playlist: My Life in Theatre

1.    My Life in Theatre   1’ 38”
2.    Tangley Lodge          2’ 49”
3.    My Mission              1’ 04”
4.    Giving Directions to McDonalds   1’ 26”
5.    “As tho’ a grey bell’s blue ringing”  1’ 55”
6.    “three in the heat”      0’ 50”
7.    In The Heart Of The Country   1’ 28”
8.    The Badger: along a line of Seamus Heaney’s, for Peter Gebhardt   1’ 46”
9.    Dear Connor O’ Callaghan  2’ 03”
10.    “to come away with Hesiod”   1’ 19”
11.    Four Haiku    1’ 08”
12.    “what doesnt go away”    0’ 28”
13.    Five Cairns   1’ 17”
14.    “after boy dies”   1’ 25”
15.    “Our dead are forgotten in the heart of us”   2’ 44”
16.    I Saw My Name   1’ 33”

Running Time:  24’ 7”

Copyright Kris Hemensley © 2009

Copyright River Road Press Pty Ltd © 2009

This audio CD was recorded in January 2009 and produced by Carol Jenkins for the River Road Poetry Series.

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory board.