Vladimir Lucien: ‘Poetry is a matter of bravery’

Repeating Islands


FOR VLADIMIR Lucien, 27, poetry is not for the faint-hearted, André Bagoo reports in this article for Trinidad’s Newsday.

“I think it is a matter of bravery both in terms of technique and in terms of the things you have to say,” Lucien says. “And it is a matter of being willing to put in the work that is necessary for that to happen and being very aware of tradition and respecting it.”

Lucien is a St Lucian poet. His first collection of poetry, Sounding Ground (2014), was earlier this month awarded the OCM Bocas Prize. His work has appeared in BIM, Caribbean Review of Books, Wasafiri, Small Axe, and several other journals. In 2013, he was awarded the Small Axe Literary Prize for poetry. Writer Shivanne Ramlochan has described Lucien’s debut – which was launched at last year’s Bocas Lit Fest – as, “a careful succession of exultances.”

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FOOD: Homemade Almond Butter

I developed an allergy to peanuts about eight years ago. It sucked having to give up one of my favourite foods but I got used to, despite the occasional nostalgia for warm wheat toast slathered with chunky peanut butter.

I was on the phone today with my friend Mitch, who said he was eating something with almond butter on it. I groaned a little that I’d love to have almond butter but I’ve never seen it here (St. Kitts) and if I did find it, it’d probably be pretty expensive. Then he said that almond butter is just almonds in a blender.

I didn’t believe it was that easy so I looked it up and all of the recipes that I found confirmed it. Half an hour later I was in the supermarket buying a tub of raw almonds.


It’s actually pretty surprising how easy it is to make this stuff. Literally all you need is almonds and a strong food processor and maybe some patience.


I popped about a cup of these babies into a simple food processor and let it rip. After about 2 minutes, it turned into a gritty sort of almond meal.


A few of the recipes online had added extra ingredients like sugar, honey, maple syrup, vanilla extract, cinnamon and other spices. I decided that I’d add some sugar and a bit of cinnamon.


The recipe I followed said to keep it going for a while until it turned a little pasty and to keep scraping it off the sides every few minutes.

This was easy enough but I realized after about 15 minutes, that this was going to take forever. I realised a little pastiness happening at the bottom but it was too little after too long. I’m not a patient man.











So I scraped it all out and switched to my more powerful Osterizer blender and hit ‘liquify’.


I let that blend for about 10 minutes before I realized that there was a soft gooey paste forming at the bottom that looked like the start of the buttery end result.


I kept it going for another 10 minutes before I saw the paste expand and the whole mixture turned into a kind of chunky cream.


Super excited, I let it continue for about 10 more minutes before it achieved the beautiful, smooth, creamy texture I was hoping for.


Ultimately I’d say this is totally worth doing as long as you can stand the loud blender noise for a while and are willing to sit patiently while it finishes. I bought the almonds for $EC 21.00 and used about half. So we can call this an EC $10 recipe for what’s a decent amount of healthy, home made almond butter.


The thing is, for most of the time I had thought I wouldn’t be successful. It’s only near the end do you realize this is actually gunna work. So it’s all about keeping it up and trusting the process I suppose.


The only real challenge will be trying to scrape EVERY LAST DROP of this delicious, creamy, nutty goodness out of the blender when it’s done. You wont want to waste any of it!


Tip: Avoid adding sugar if you can. I’m not much of a sweet tooth so I found that the mixture was a little on the sweet side because of the sugar. I’m pretty sure the almonds would have been sweet enough on their own.

  • 1-3 cups almonds (0r how much ever the hell you want!)
  1. Place the almonds in a food processor/blender fitted with an “S” blade. Secure the lid and allow to process for 20-30 minutes, stopping and scraping down the sides as needed throughout the process.
  2. The almond butter is ready when the oils have released and the resulting butter is very smooth and creamy– this takes a while and only happens after you’re about ready to give up so stick with it!
  3. Transfer the almond butter to a sealed glass jar, and store in the fridge for best shelf life.

Prep time: 30 minutes

Effort: Minimal

*I used raw, unsalted almonds but roasted salted ones will do as well… they reportedly take a little less time and have a different flavour. 

*You can experiment by adding different flavours like cinnamon, peppermint or vanilla extract or whatever else you think would go well with it. Make it your own! 


The Brown/White Jamaican and the Right to take Offence

Under the Saltire Flag

  1. But some of my best friends are Brown

It is always hard for Caribbean people to talk about that most unspeakable topic: race. But then, perhaps it is hard to talk about it anywhere. We live, each one of us, in bodies that we cannot change, neither can we change the histories that those bodies inherit. Discussions on race can feel divisive and it can feel as if we are called into some silly kind of historical re-enactment. In Jamaica, therefore, whenever the discussions veer dangerously into that most unspeakable topic, and when the discomfort sets in which is usually very soon, you can count on someone to invoke the national motto. ‘Out of many, one people!’ We shout it as kind of censorship. We insist on it. ‘We are out of many, but we are one people!’


I have this friend – like me, he is relatively young and…

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Teen ends up in Paris after drunken night out in Manchester

So a new standard has been set for laissez le bon temps roulette. Apparently you can’t call it a proper night out if you haven’t woken up in another country.

4 Reasons to Begin Writing/Filming/Recording the Story of Your Life

Thought this was a great read and a good idea for every young person with lots of ambition and ideas.

I’m an asshole.

Having “no principles” and “no regard for others’ feelings” are two descriptions I thought could never be associated with my name. In a previous post about recognizing and accepting self truths, I was honest about what I saw as less-than-appealing features in my character and admitted to being moody, impatient, envious and sometimes a bit of a bitch. I’m realizing now that being honest about your character is fine but doesn’t necessarily mean you are able to see the full scope of who you are, and sometimes you can surprise yourself with the things you’re capable of.

In the same post, I also admitted to being a terrible drunk, which is, I suppose a good context for the story I’m about to kind-of tell. “Kind-of” because honestly I’m still rather ashamed of myself and haven’t even been able to articulate the details to my closest friends yet.

In a nutshell: The defendant, Klieon John, hereby stands accused of committing an act of gross indecency, betrayal and negligence, when he went to a party with someone (yes, a date) got drunk and made out with someone else (who I have no interest in whatsoever) basically in plain view of said date.

How do I plead? Guilty.

The last to know.
As it turns out I’m an asshole with no sense of decency or moral filter. What’s worse, is that I seem to be the last to know. Beyond feeling utterly disgusted with myself, ashamed and deeply sorry, I’m surprised that I could be capable of something so cruel, disrespectful and, as was rightly stated by the offended party, lacking in principle and regard for feelings. I’m surprised because I normally pride myself on being more level-headed and considerate than the average person and thought I was utterly incapable of acting in such an immature way but consequently that’s not true.  

Ctrl Z.  
I was a heedless child. I knew everything and could not be convinced of the likely outcome of my actions if I didn’t see it that way. As one can imagine, such a child is in for hard lessons in life, and indeed, I have had to learn about many harsh realities by making mistakes and dealing with the consequences.

One of those realities is that life has no Ctrl Z and that you cannot undo your actions, no matter how much and how sincerely you apologize.


Another of life’s harsh realities is that some consequences are unavoidable. Ever so often a teacher, boss, parent or friend may give you a “bligh” and forgive your stupidity or negligence but this should not fool you into thinking that you can avoid the consequences of major actions and decisions in life. Here’s another thing: as humans we all make mistakes and sometimes we do bad things with no intention of hurting other people. But while we may be truly sorry, we don’t always deserve a second chance.

Mea Culpa
The next lesson is about accepting responsibility. In 99 of 100 cases, there was something you could have done to avoid the circumstances where your actions resulted in the displeasure, displacement or otherwise offense of another person. and whether or not you beat yourself up over it, you have to recognize and accept your role in any situation. “Blame it on the booze” stopped being a valid defence when you graduated high school.

I now have to accept the fact (whether I’m ready for it or not) that someone I love deeply will likely never speak to me again and that no matter how sorry I am and how badly I wish I didn’t do what I did, they are entirely right to do so and it is 100% because of my own doing.

Why am I writing about this and sharing with the world? Well, I can’t talk to who I want to talk to about it (I’ve been cut off) and writing is perhaps more therapeutic than downing a bottle of DPH and half a litre of wine (though it does shut up the voices long enough to get 7 straight hours of dreamless sleep – DO NOT try this yourself please). I feel like Macbeth and this is my soliloquy of sorrow (I’m a writer and therefore allowed to be melodramatic).  

I’ve always been able to accept when my actions affect me (failing a test, losing a job, paying a fine) but when my actions have hurt someone else (especially one I care so much about) it’s a very different kind of pain and something I’m not even sure how to deal with. I don’t know what will happen now but I do know this is one of the most difficult lessons I’ve had to learn so far and one I hope never to repeat.

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