Jean Kent grew up in rural Queensland. She began publishing poems and fiction in 1970 while she was studying for an Arts degree in psychology at the University of Queensland. She has also worked as a TAFE counsellor while writing and her poems and stories have been widely published in Australian literary magazines and anthologies. Kent has won numerous prizes for her poetry and in 1988 she was a joint winner of the National Library Poetry Prize. Both her first book of poems Verandahs (1990) and her second book of poetry Practising Breathing (1991) have won awards. In Practising Breathing, Kent introduces social issues such as suicide and the death of a child. In 1994 she was awarded a residency at the Nancy Keesing Studio in Paris.
Much of Kent's poetry draws on her childhood memories and in Verandahs, for example, she writes of her parents' and grandparents' homes in Southern Queensland and of her invalid father sitting on his verandah in the afternoons. Her poems also focus on her work as a counsellor.