SINCE 1978, I have had ten books of poetry or fiction or non-fiction published by Canadian Publishers and Presses. The last four of these books are still available as trade books through Thistledown Press or as eBooks through Thistledown, Kobo, Amazon, and Kindle.
As of January 2018, I also have new books emerging in the next two years: first a book of poems called A Matins Flywheel which will be released by Thistledown Press in 2019; second, a book of meditations and conversations about contemporary writing called Marshal Fields and which is currently under consideration. The other six books listed below can still be purchased (except for A Rock Solid) through me. Just use the ‘contact’ link provided in the website. Over the years, all these books have been reviewed in various Canadian Journals, Periodicals and newspapers. Please see the CV section listed above on the opening page of the website if you wish to pursue these reviews. We have provided the links for you.
A Matins Flywheel has just been released and its big launch will be on Thursday, September 26, at 7:00pm at The Okanagan Regional Library, Vernon Branch. Kerry Gilbert will also read from her new book of poems, Little Red.
A MATINS FLYWHEEL
|Some background notes for A Matins Flywheel|
In his new book of poems, A Matins Flywheel, John Lent brings a life-long fascination with literary forms to the hybrid prose/poetry of a new long poem called “Matins for St. Agnes of The Crossroads: 62nd Avenue and 109th Street, Edmonton”, and to the new, loose, genre-mixing poems and prose sketches about growing up in Edmonton, Lent’s love of jazz, his travel to Prague, and his remembering the writing legacy of Robert Kroetsch. Because these meditations and poems are rooted in the visceral struggles to find the necessary love and honesty required to live through some harrowing health events, these meditations surface close to the bones of our contemporary lives and celebrate an almost unearthly delight in texture and breath and light and love.
This writing wants a lot, and like the work of Lent’s self-declared models—Robert Kroetsch, Sheila Watson, Eileen Myles, John Berger, W.G. Sebald, Per Petterson, Sharon Thesen, Pierre Michon, Jake Kennedy and Marilyn Robinson—he tries to sing the reader smack dab back into the density of these times and some of its luminous joys and sorrows. “I feel I have been writing towards this book all my life,” Lent said, explaining what he was trying to do in A Flywheel Matins; “It tries to run with some things I have learned about forms of consciousness in literature into a kind of baffling wonder at the truth of those shattering, fragmented forms themselves, the human exhilaration in them as subject and object.’ A Flywheel Matins is an exciting, new book by an accomplished, innovative writer.
Some advance praise for A Matins Flywheel:
“All the glittering, hilarious muck of grace — that’s what’s here: all of the doggy and sun-edged textures of grace. John Lent’s A Matins Flywheel is a book of exquisite meditations that makes up an entire world — you just go into it, you wander around inside, and you are changed utterly by its rainy, profound, dazzling days and nights.” — Jake Kennedy, author of Hazard, The Lateral, and Merz Structure No. 2: Burnt by Children at Play
“A Matins Flywheel — a bibliography of the saints of poetry, literature, and music; a late-life and very personal “defence” of the living truths of art; an awesome sanctus for the beauty of the world — is John Lent’s finest and most important testament. From the complicated standpoint of someone given a “second chance” after a near-fatal heart attack and in his tenderness toward the health concerns of his beloved wife Jude, Lent actively proposes in this gorgeous text that his subject, as Patti Smith says of her own in M Train, is “life.” This is one of the most heartening books I’ve read in years. It is also a serious reckoning we should all take note of and be inspired by.” — Sharon Thesen, author of The Receiver, Oyama Pink Shale, A Pair Of Scissors, The Good Bacteria
BUY A COPY OF A MATINS FLYWHEEL
THE PATH TO ARDROE
The Path to Ardroe is an exploration of friendship and its limits, life changes, and the challenges and aspirations of writers. Peter Chisholm, a writer wrestling with his craft, finds himself at forty-two without direction, and so it seems an eerie coincidence to him that unplanned events have conspired to place him in Lochinver, Scotland, developing his next novel, seeking out his former lover, and trying to find a solution to his restlessness and self-imposed fakery. But he has no idea of the fearful ghosts he will conjure. In various states of introspection Peter’s friends are also coming to terms with their own life-changing moments. For emerging writer Melissa Picard, on a six-month trip to Strasbourg, France, it will be her struggle with the past criticisms of her writing. Through a budding friendship with a celebrated writer and a transformative affair with an artist, she begins to understand that her challenges are not unique and that to write with a simple purity, the way Derain painted, she must finally listen to her own voice.
Another friend, Rick Connelly, at a creative crossroads of self and meaning is struggling with the control of his writing voice and intently floundering in his need to show what his father meant to him. He seeks the solitude of nature to reshape his instincts about himself and the life path he has chosen.
Finally there is Tania, who lost her mother too young and whose immigrant roots shape her in ways she is only beginning to understand. Faced with her own immanent death from pancreatic cancer, she is stripping her life bare of all pretense, while taking stock of the people and events who have made her who she really is. But it will be Peter Chisholm at the novel’s end, who in a profound epiphany, will discover the fulcrum that balances private compromises with the artistic quandaries of the literary life, and it will not be the revelation he assumed.
Readers familiar with John Lent’s work will be drawn into Cantilevered Songs by his impressive ability to make poetry useful, not in the sense that it will solve problems, or create codes or alibis for how live. No. Useful in the sense that we all live somewhere, come from somewhere, hear things, see other things, and remember. When we share this with others as writers do, we transform the ordinary. We make it magical; make it important. This is Lent’s gift – to remind us all that we have lives worth thinking about; to remind us that our own backyards, roads home, work, play and love are uncommon wonders. This is what he means when he says: “Play that song. Play it again. Now, improvise,”
Lent’s poetry gains its energy from his own recognition of its usefulness as much as it gains its art from his own experiences with music, art, family friends and the his work as a teacher, musician and writer in the Okanagan. And while it is important to recognize his structured play with visual architecture, to make the poems resemble what they observe, to capture the cadence of those crazy personal mysteries, to hear the backbeat moments of when you catch a big and strange idea sideways and then it disappears, in the end it is the small, but beautiful, epiphany of feeling triumphant for no reason other than you have lived.
- Longlisted for the 2010 ReLit Award for Poetry
“I can think of no Canadian writer who so thoroughly positions us in front of the mirror that might offer us at once both reality and the imagined. It is to Lent that I turn when I need to be reminded, when I need to discover again, how the writer works in the daily world of place while aspiring to what endures. He is there, the writer writing out of and in the present.” — Robert Kroetsch
SO IT WON’T GO AWAY
Lent continues to explore the spatial viewpoints of the unique, often funny, dysfunctional Connelly family, to whom readers were first introduced in his previous experimental fiction, Monet’s Garden. Then, as now, we get to hear and see Neil, Rick and Jane dissect their own thinking, second-guess their destinies, and generally revel in and reinvent their relationships with each other as they confront their addictions, dreams, and failures. Throughout the ride, Lent’s humour and Lent himself transcends the page to join us through the read. While sharing such intimacy, he engages us in another dialogue, one that has a lot to do with fiction’s relationship to reality, one that rearranges our fixed perception of the writer’s place in the written work.
- Nominated for the 2006 Ethel Wilson BC Book Prize for Fiction
“I think what I most love in Lent’s writing is the way it lifts ordinary speech toward lyric without sacrificing its ordinariness.” — Don McKay
“…John Lent has written a book of tender short stories which carries the kind of insight that encourages the reader to read on. His use of detail including the familiarity of Western Canadian landmarks creates an introspective that draws out aspects of Canadian culture which are often difficult to define.”
— Vernon Daily News
“…his powerful expression of the hypnotic rhythm of the ordinary…” — Michael Estok
THE FACE IN THE GARDEN
“John Lent’s suite of stories and poems is a disarming and pleasing work that resists categorization.” – Malahat Review.