The winner of the 2015 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature is Vladimir Lucien, for his first poetry collection, Sounding Ground.
Following in the steps of fellow St Lucian Derek Walcott, who won the poetry prize and went on to capture the overall prize in 2011, Vladimir Lucien has just been announced as the winner at this year’s Bocas Literary Festival.
Lucien’s work has been published in a variety of Caribbean venues, from The Caribbean Review of Books, Small Axe, BIM, Caribbean Beat and Wasafiri. A poet, screenwriter and actor, he graduated with honors in English and theater form the University of the West Indies (St. Augustine), where he is pursuing a masters’ degree in philosophy.
He published this first award-winning collection with Peepal Tree Press. Here is their description of the book:
Vladimir Lucien is a young poet with so many gifts; his poetry is intelligent, musical, gritty in observation, graceful in method. His poems contain stories of ancestors, immediate family, the history embedded in his language choices as a St Lucian writer, and heroes such as Walter Rodney, C. L. R. James, Kamau Brathwaite, and a local steelbandsman. Although never overtly political, there’s an oblique and often witty politics embedded in the poems, as where observing the rise of a grandfather out of rural poverty into the style of colonial respectability, he writes of the man “who eat his farine and fish / and avocado in a civilize fight between / knife and fork and etiquette on his plate.” This is a collection that is alive with its conscious tensions both in subject matter and form. There’s a tension between the vision of ancestors, family, and of the poet himself as being engaged in the business of acting in the world and building on the past, and a sharp awareness of the inescapability of age’s frailty, the decay of memory and of death.