Born in Jamaica to Afro-Jamaican and Venezuelan parents, Shara McCallum moved to the U.S. at the age of nine and is a self-described Caribbean, Jamaican, American, African-American, West Indian, woman writer. Indeed, her work is infused with multiplicity and breadth, woven of the colorful thread that zigzags its way between identity and geography and passes through the places of history, memory, and song.

Toi Derricotte has praised McCallum's poetry for its powerful and evocative rendering of this double-consciousness, or what modern psychoanalysis might call “split subjectivity:” “McCallum's amazing first book brings this ‘twoness’ into brilliant focus...[enabling] us to perceive the invisible spaces between—the gaps in knowledge
and history, the agonizing separations and distances, the losses that can't be spoken and, in the end, are untranslatable.” Heralded by Michael Waters as the “spiritual daughter of Derek Walcott and Lucille Clifton,” Shara McCallum is a unique voice in contemporary poetry, writing lyrical poems steeped in myth, legend, and folklore. Chase Twichell wrote of her third book: “Intimate, serious, and beautifully crafted, these poems scrutinize the griefs and beauties of familial life and memorialize them with meticulous care.”

McCallum holds a PhD. in Poetry and African-American and Caribbean Literature. Her honors include an Academy of American Poets Prize (while still a student), a Barbara Deming Memorial Fund Grant, and last year a Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of The Water Between Us, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, Song of Thieves, This Strange Land (Alice James Books, 2011), and The Face of Water: New & Selected Poems. Her poetry and personal essays have appeared widely in journals, and have been reprinted in over twenty anthologies and translated into Spanish and Romanian. McCallum lives with her family in Pennsylvania and teaches and directs the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University.


Poems by Shara McCallum





    Poetry Center Reading:
    Fall 2012