Archive for the ‘ General ’ Category

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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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.

“Squaddie hol’ a smalls!” – Important lesson to be learned from JPS.


I thought I’d drop a quick weigh-in on something that caught my eye in today’s news.

The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) has donated four vehicles to the JCF to assist in their crime-fighting efforts (see story). The headline says it’s to “help fight electricity theft”, though from a PR standpoint I suspect the folks at JPS may not like this headline because of how shallow it seems. I say shallow because the headline suggests the vehicles should be used only for the purpose of running down electricity thieves and it comes across as callous self-interest. It’s like if NCB donated vehicles to help catch bank robbers. In any case, I really doubt this was JPS’s intention and is just a demonstration of the press’ need to sensationalize and characterize things; well I hope so.

Police Commissioner Owen Ellington and JPS CEO Kelly Tomblin. Photo via Jamaica Gleaner.

Several things come to mind after reading this story:

1.      How come? It’s pretty sad that the issue of electricity theft has gotten so out of hand that JPS needs to be donating vehicles and working so closely with the JCF to combat it.  People, we cyaan live better than this? Cho man!

 2.      BIG UP Kelly Tomblin: I love her style as a CEO. I can’t know what her personal feelings are and if she really is genuine, but based on her interaction with her public stakeholders, I have every reason to believe she is. In her speeches and general appearances she always comes across as realistic, down to earth, honest and accessible. Keep it up!

3.      What great PR! At first, because of the headline I wondered “How the hell is giving some vehicles to the police really going to stop people stealing your light???” But when I read the article and realized this is part of a wider partnership with the force, which includes education and training in detecting electricity theft (that’s a more meaningful headline to me), I thought “Brilliant!” This is a great way to encourage the force to take the issue more seriously. I literally want to stand and applaud JPS for leading by example: instead of cussing out the force, like we’re accustomed to, they are assisting and empowering them in a meaningful way to tackle the issue. 10/10.

4.      “Yow squaddie hol’ dis an nuh seh nuttn!” Looking through a different lens, this seems like a large-scale example of how we have to basically bribe police in this country to do their jobs. Instead of just springing to duty (I said DUTY), you have to hold their hand, rub them down and sweet them up to get any attention. People will think I’m harsh for putting it this way but it takes me to the major lesson learned from JPS today, which is how we should deal with our ineffective police system.

Please do not think I am just coming down on the police for the sake of making noise. I fully understand that several factors are at play, chiefly the lack of resources, which isn’t their fault. But there is a larger picture.  

The assertion by many people is that the JCF is corrupt, lazy and ineffective and most officers take more pleasure in extorting and brutalizing citizens than doing their duty as civil servants. The opposite camp says they are not paid well and receive poor benefits and are acting according to their poor remuneration.

Real police

Middle ground.

I am grouping the JCF with medical practitioners and teachers because my sentiment goes for all of them. These three professions are crucial elements in the development of any society and should not only be paid well but given every privilege and respect they deserve.

However, people in these professions must understand that they are entrusted with a major responsibility, which involves the well-being, care and protection of other innocent human beings. They must be prepared to take this responsibility seriously, regardless of remunerative conditions. You are in a position where people rely on you for crucial services and you need to be ready to commit the utmost care in exercising that service.

Furthermore, I think most rational people can identify with the need to make practical choices for your well-being and that of your family. Your kids need to eat and rent has to be paid. So if you find yourself in the predicament where you cannot continue with your salary package, COME OUT and find something else that will satisfy your needs. This is a tough decision but it serves the greater good far better than shirking such a vital responsibility, the result of which cause innocent people to suffer. Hopefully, the threat of mass exodus will encourage authorities to offer better incentives to these professionals.

Harsh but true: While we quarrel over benefits, there are husbands cutting their wives’ throats, business owners being extorted, neighbourhoods terrorized by gangs and children being abused. This should take priority over money. It’s not my fault you are being underpaid. Direct your frustration to the people who write your cheques and I will be at the very front of that demonstration; cardboard properly decorated and old fridge trailing behind in support of you. And if we civilians have any sense we should be lobbying on behalf of these professionals. This is ultimately in our interest.

I also want us to recognize that salary is not the only factor in job performance. Case in point: politicians. I think there is serious need for some sort of sensitivity programme for officers where they are conditioned with ideals of civic duty and pride. In the same way we brainwash the poor little JC and KC kids to blindly worship their school, we should condition our officers to not just carry out duty but to want to carry out their duty. If this already exists, someone please educate me, because I’m not seeing the effect of any such initiative. And yes, I do recognize that there are good police officers out there. I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting one myself but I know people who have had sightings.

Finally, I’d love to see some other benefit package for these professionals, if we can’t pay them more. School/education subsidies for their children? Better vacation package? Added health benefits? Tax exemptions? Perhaps this is where Private Sector needs to come on board and follow the JPS lead. Offer special packages to teachers, doctors, nurses and police so they know they have the appreciation of the people they are protecting. The ROI is better service and protection so you can conduct your business more efficiently. If the Private Sector can take the lead on this, I think they can filter the sentiments down to individual citizens. Work with the police and they’ll work with you. The government officials are not the ones being affected by poor services. Bunting and his children will never have to worry about poor police response or inadequate healthcare or education because they can afford the best of these things. The rest of us need to find a way to cope and the JPS model of working with the force instead of barking at them seems to be the way.

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