Jean Kent was born in Chinchilla, Queensland, in 1951. She published her first poems in a literary magazine in 1970, while she was completing an Arts Degree (majoring in psychology) at the University of Queenslandl; her first collection, Verandahs, appeared twenty years later, in 1970. Since then, another eight books of her poetry have been published. The most recent are The Hour of Silvered Mullet (Pitt Street Poetry, 2015) and Paris in my Pocket (PSP, 2016).
Awards Jean has won include the Anne Elder Prize and Dame Mary Gilmore Award (both for Verandahs), the Wesley Michel Wright Prize, the Josephine Ulrick Prize and Somerset Prize. She has been a runner-up for the Newcastle Poetry Prize and winner of its Local Section, and was a judge of the prize in 2013. She has received several writing grants from the Australia Council, including Overseas Residencies in Paris in 1994 and 2011.
As well as writing poetry, fiction and (occasional) nonfiction, Jean has worked as an educational psychologist, counsellor in TAFE colleges, lecturer in Creative Writing, mentor and facilitator of poetry workshops.
With Kit Kelen, Jean was co-editor of A Slow Combusting Hymn: Poetry from and about Newcastle and the Hunter Region (ASM/Cerberus Press, Flying Island Books, 2014).
Her Flying Island pocket book is The Language of Light (2013), a selection of her poems with Chinese translations by Iris Fan Xing.
In 2020, Kit Kelen invited her to converse with him by email for his blog spot, The Daily Kit. Their conversation over six months, covering a lot of topics, including poetry, but also COVID19, the deaths of their mothers, gardening …
Jean lives at Lake Macquarie, NSW.
Flying Islands Pocket Poet Publications
The Language of Light
In National Library of Australia
Translation Iris Fan Xing
The Language of Light is a selection of poems from Jean Kent’s collections, with translations into Chinese by Iris Fan Xing. The poetry ranges from memories of childhood in country towns and on a farming property in Queensland to adult experiences visiting family in Lithuania and living in Paris. Scenes from everyday life, working as a psychologist, and at home in a bushy suburb at Lake Macquarie, NSW, also feature. Included are poems which won the Josephine Ulrick National Poetry Prize and the Dorothy Porter Prize.