John Jenkins was born in Melbourne in 1949, in the bayside suburb of Elwood, the youngest of two children. He was educated at Burwood Technical School and Box Hill High School and studied Business at the Swinburne University of Technology.
Sometimes associated with the group of poets known as the 'Generation of '68', Jenkins was one of the first poets to read at Melbourne's famous La Mama theatre, and in the 1970s helped to write pop songs with various musicians. Throughout the seventies, he was co-editor and editor of a number of literary journals, Etymspheres: The Journal of the Paper Castle (1974-75), Aspect (1976-77) and in the early eighties, Helix (1981-82).
During this period he worked for a publisher of children's books/library supplier and took part in readings and performances in Melbourne. His first book, Zone of the White Wolf, appeared in 1974, just before he moved to Sydney, where he lived on a small grant from the Australia Council. His second book of poems, Blind Spot, appeared in 1977 and he also began working as a journalist, first for a Sydney art journal and then a large commercial magazine company.
Jenkins travelled to London in 1981, where he worked as a research assistant in the BBC's regional radio division; and later travelled throughout Europe.On his return to Melbourne in 1982, he met many of the rising generation of new Australian composers, and wrote a libretto with composer Richard Vella, and several radio plays with his good and long-time friend the composer Rainer Linz.
Jenkins has worked widely as a journalist, for a variety of magazines and newspapers, and in radio, and as a teacher of creative writing . He has worked on, or contributed to, magazines as various as Cosmopolitan, Dolly, Signature (the Diners' Club magazine), Overland, Art and Text, The Age Monthly Review, ABR, Heat, Artstreams and many more. He has also travelled extensively, in South East Asia, China, Japan, India, Europe, the US and elsewhere, sometimes while working on travel magazines and as a book editor.
In recent years, John Jenkins has been a teacher of creative writing, while continuing to work as a poet, journalist and editor. In addition to his volumes of poetry, Jenkins has also published 22 Contemporary Australian Composers (1988), Arias: Recent Australian Music Theatre (with Rainer Linz, 1997) and contributed (as Jan Zavaskar) to The Pink Violin: An Anthology of Writings about the Music of the Rosenbergs and edited the anthology Travelers' Tales of Old Cuba (2002).
He is a nephew (through his mother) of Andrew Mallon.
Poet, art critic, editor and publisher, Ken Bolton has an Arts degree from the University of Sydney, with First Class Honours in Fine Arts, and a PhD in English from the University of Adelaide. He is the author of many volumes of poetry, some of which he has written collaboratively with John Jenkins. His extensive travels have informed much of his work, and he has spent time in Rome on an Australia Council residency. He moved to Adelaide in 1982 and has worked for the Experimental Art Foundation, editing the literary journals Otis Rush and Magic Sam and running a small press called Little Esther Books.