Winner of the overall OCM Bocas Prize for Literature 2015.
The judges said, 'Vladimir Lucien's Sounding Ground demonstrates considerable emotional and stylistic range, and makes inspired use of various kinds and registers of Creole.'
About the book
Vladimir Lucien’s poetry is intelligent, musical, gritty in observation, graceful in method. You can see a young man building his house of poetry, just as his poems reflect on building a marriage and making his home. The world where he builds his house, St Lucia, has deep fault-lines of class and culture, with two languages – English and the French patois of the people; a society confronting the legacies of colonialism and the impact of tourism and global capitalism. While Lucien’s poems are never abstractly or overtly political, there is often a witty and self-reflective politics embedded in them. He builds his house with stories of ancestors, immediate family, the history embedded in the language choices of a St Lucian writer, reflections on the submerged belief system of Tjenbwa, and heroes such as Walter Rodney, CLR James and a local steelbandsman.
This is a collection that is alive with its conscious tensions: between divergent family visions of respectability and revolt, tradition and modernity. It is enriched by an instinctive humanity that encompasses socially aspiring ancestors, an authoritarian headmaster and the rebellious children of the poor – the “negative elements” of the squatter settlements. There is, too, amidst a young man’s zest in life, a tender awareness of the inescapability of the frailty of age. In the music of the poems themselves, there’s an enlivening counterpoint between the natural rhythms of creole speech and the metric organisation of the line and its patterns of sound.
SOUNDING GROUND for me, is the sign of the at last starat of a New Tradition (in the anglopho Caribb) - based, as it shd be - at last - on our oldest - the bwa itself <<..>>
- Kamau Brathwaite.