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Charlot Lucien – Artist of all Trades
By Ella Turenne
New York – Charlot Lucien can truly call himself an artist. Hearing that title may lead one to believe that Lucien can only pick up a paintbrush, but in fact, he is talented on many levels.
Painter, poet, storyteller and cartoonist, Lucien has an impressive formal artistic career that has spanned close to two decades. The current co-director of the Assembly of Haitian Artists in Massachusetts has been an influential force in helping to bring Haitian art to the forefront, especially in Boston and its surrounding suburbs where the Haitian population is high.
Born in des Cayes, Lucien came to the US as an adult in the early 1990’s, having spent time in Canada after leaving Haiti. While in Canada, he was already making waves with his satirical cartoons in publications such as Le Nouvelliste, Haïti en Marche, Haïti Libérée and Information Libre. 
Lucien says he began drawing and writing when he was only six years old. He would reproduce cartoons from books that came from France. This behavior was definitely not accepted by his family, but he continued to pursue it, despite the sometimes unfavorable repercussions.
Since arriving in the US, Lucien has been busy, not only with the activities of the Assembly, which includes close to 50 Massachusetts artists within all arts disciplines, but he is also editor of the a newsletter he founded entitled Bulletin Communautaire Haïtien du Massachusetts, and can be seen regularly in Boston’s Haitian-American newspaper, the Boston Haïtian Reporter as well as TANBOU TAMBOUR, an online magazine. Not limiting himself to print, he can also be seen on Télé Kreyol a community access television show on Boston Neighborhood Network.
Perhaps the most interesting achievement thus far is the release of his second CD of stories, Ti Cyprien Doktè ya Bezwen anecdotes if you will, mostly about the Haitian experience. Interesting because it is rare in this day of Konpa-fanaticism that people are willing to sit and listen to a story. Most people would rather shake their bon-bon’s as Ricky Martin puts it. Or are they? The success of Lucien’s CD is proving that people are more open to storytelling that one might think.
What began this love affair with storytelling? Lucien credits his father, who traveled a great deal in Haiti and took Lucien with him everywhere.
“I could be in one area of Haiti with officials speaking French. The next day, [I] could be on the countryside.” Lucien was interested in the contradictions in Haitian society, where you could formality in one are in informality right next door. He was an observer, and the observations he experienced fueled his storytelling.
“[A] sense of observation served me well as an artist. Some of the things I describe in my stories are things that I actually saw.” Besides this kind of inspiration, there are others factors involved in developing his stories and cartoons.
“[If] something that [people] are doing intrigues me, I do something about it – either I tease people about it or I annoy people. The cartoons are rarely funny to the victims. The storytelling sometimes makes some people uncomfortable. It never comes back to me in a very clear way. It’s a way to wrap some humor around some contradictions so they can swallow the pill.”
Lucien’s CD offers a range of very comical and thoughtful anecdotes in French and Creole. They deal with issues including being a “Dyasora,” someone who has left Haiti and comes back to the country for a visit, to a historical anecdote about Capois La Mort, a famed Haitian hero. One story, Sonson Moun Fou, speaks tells the story of a man thought to be crazy. In a hilarious twist, we learn that the crazy people are not necessarily those who are pegged so by society.
Lucien’s deep and articulate voice draw the listener in and his tempo make each story a joy to listen to. He has a skillful knack for character voices, which only serves to make each story better-rounded. Lucien has so take the story-telling world that he is being compared these days to the likes of Maurice Sixto, a well-known Haitian storyteller. How does Lucien handle being compared to such a legend?
“Compared to Sixto? Scared. He was a master storyteller and performer.” Lucien says that when people starting making this connection. He actually waited before releasing his first collection of stories. “[I] took the time to recraft text and words. I wouldn’t be able to break free from his heavy presence if people just started to refer to me as such. After the first one, that’s how people embraced it.”
Being compared to such a legend is not such a bad thing, especially if you are legitimacy good at what you do, and Lucien. His stories are something that the whole family, for generations to come, will enjoy.