Glenys Kohnke moved to Madang, Papua New Guinea while still a child. After studying creative art at the Akademie der Bildenden Kunste in Stuttgart, Germany in 1969, she returned to Port Moresby.
She travelled extensively and lived in villages throughout Papua New Guinea, painting and collecting legends, after which she published her first book Time Belong Tumbana (1973). Kohnke has held exhibitions of her paintings and sculptures and her work is represented in art collections in Europe, the United States of America, Africa and Australia.
The Literature board of the Australia Council for the Arts awarded her a writers fellowship grant in 1975.