poem index


Shara McCallum

1972- , Kingston , Jamaica
Printer-friendly version
Shara McCallum
Related Schools & Movements: 

Shara McCallum was born on October 18, 1972, in Jamaica to Afro-Jamaican and Venezuelan parents and moved to the United States at the age of nine. She received a BA from the University of Miami, an MFA from the University of Maryland, and a PhD in poetry and African American and Caribbean literature from Binghamton University in New York.

Her most recent collection, Madwoman (Alice James Books, 2017), won the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature in poetry. She is also the author of The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems (Peepal Tree Press, 2011), This Strange Land (Alice James Books, 2011), Song of Thieves (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003), and The Water Between Us (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999), winner of the 1998 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize.

McCallum is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Witter Bynner Foundation, among others. She has also received a college prize from the Academy of American Poets, and her work has appeared in the Best American Poetry series.

From 2003 to 2017, McCallum served as the director of the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. She has also taught at Drew University, the University of Memphis, the University of Southern Maine, and the University of West Indies in Barbados. She currently teaches at Penn State University and lives in Pennsylvania.


Madwoman (Alice James Books, 2017)
The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems (Peepal Tree Press, 2011)
This Strange Land (Alice James Books, 2011)
Song of Thieves (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003)
The Water Between Us (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999)

by this poet

Reincarnation, life everlasting--
call it whatever you will--

it will not change
the facts: we are ashes of stellar death.

And, in the end, wishing on shooting stars
is like pinning your hopes

on the last sound of the whistle
trailing off, last chord of the train

sparking on the tracks
then fading into the
When the dead return 
they will come to you in dream 
and in waking, will be the bird 
knocking, knocking against glass, seeking 
a way in, will masquerade 
as the wind, its voice made audible 
by the tongues of leaves, greedily 
lapping, as the waves’ self-made fugue 
is a turning and returning, the dead 
In my time, I was a girl who like to spree.
The whole world would open fi mi

if I shift mi hips to strain
the fabric of mi skirt, just so.

Still, I did learn mi lesson
where love concern: if snake bite yu,

when yu see even lizard, crawling
with him belly on ground, yu run.

Now the gal come to mi, say she