Growing Up with Mr Menzies
John Leonard Press, $24.95 pb, 160 pp
John Jenkins (especially in his collaborations with Ken Bolton) is normally thought of as an ‘experimental’ poet, but in Growing up with Mr Menzies he is on more traditional ground. Born in 1949 in Melbourne, Jenkins has created the fictional character Felix Hayes, who was also born in 1949 in Melbourne. In a series of poems, he traces Felix’s life from birth through to early adolescence. Rather neatly, this period of his life fits with the so-called ‘Menzies era’; Robert Menzies returned to power in 1949 and left it (voluntarily) in 1966. It is thus the parallel story of two characters, one large and looming, the other small but getting bigger.