College bestows highest honour on former dean

Acclaimed author and retired Okanagan College regional dean John Lent will receive the distinguished service award

Acclaimed author and retired Okanagan College regional dean John Lent will receive the distinguished service award next month during the college’s Vernon Convocation ceremony.

Lent is the fourth person in college history to receive the award, which is the highest honour bestowed upon a former employee.

The award recognizes past employees who have given outstanding service to Okanagan College, who share and support its mission, vision and values, and are active within and outside the college community.

“John Lent is a very deserving recipient of the distinguished service award as he significantly contributed to the national reputation that Okanagan College has earned for creative writing and publishing,” said Okanagan College president Jim Hamilton.

“He was also instrumental in creating a community infrastructure that supports creative writing across the Okanagan region, including the development of ground-breaking projects like the Kalamalka Press.”

For more than 30 years, Lent taught English at Okanagan College in Vernon. In 2007, he became regional dean of the Vernon campus, a position he held until he retired in 2011.

In addition to his work at the college, Lent has been a successful author with an international reputation for three decades, having published 10 books in poetry, fiction and non-fiction.

“I am thrilled to receive the award,” said Lent. “When you do something you love over a span of decades, you don’t ever look at it holistically, you just find yourself completing one thing and moving on to the next.

“To be recognized for it is both humbling and gratifying.”

Residing in Vernon with his wife, artist Jude Clarke, Lent is hard at work on his latest book, a work of fiction called The Kitchen Sessions, and a currently untitled book about the poetics of the writing process he’s co-authoring with Okanagan College English professor Jake Kennedy.

During his career, Lent has received many accolades for his work including being short-listed for the BC Book Prizes in 2005 for So It Won’t Go Away, and long-listed for the Re-Lit Award in 2009 for Cantilevered Songs.

As homage to Lent’s contribution to Canadian poetry, Kalamalka Press established the John Lent Poetry-Prose Award in 2012, which was designed to recognize and support Canadian writers in the early stages of their careers. In addition to his literary talents, he is also an accomplished jazz/roots/blues singer with The Lent/Fraser/Wall Trio.

As the fourth recipient of the distinguished service award, Lent joins past recipients Lynda Wilson (2010), Gary Dickinson (2011), and Catherine Williams (2012).

Lent will receive his award on the evening of June 25 during the Vernon convocation ceremony. He will also address the graduating students during the ceremony, which is held at 4:30 p.m. at the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.