Shara McCallum

From Jamaica, and born to a Jamaican father and Venezuelan mother, Shara McCallum is the author of six books published in the US and UK. Her most recent, No Ruined Stone, won the 2022 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2022 UNT Rilke Prize. McCallum’s poems and essays have appeared in journals, anthologies, and textbooks throughout the US, Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. La historia es un cuarto/History is a Room, an anthology of her poems translated into Spanish by Adalber Salas Hernández, was published in 2021 in Mexico. In addition to Spanish, McCallum’s poems have been translated into French, Italian, Romanian, Turkish, and Dutch and set to music by composers Marta Gentilucci and Gity Razaz. Awards for her work include the Silver Musgrave Medal from the Jamaican government, the OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Poetry, a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the US Library of Congress, and an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, among others. McCallum is an Edwin Erle Sparks Professor at Penn State University and a faculty member in the Pacific University Low-Residency MFA Program. From 2021-22, she served as the Penn State Laureate. She is a 2023-24 Guggenheim Fellow. WEBSITE:

Song Of Thieves

Song of Thieves delves into issues of racial identity and politics, the immigrant experience, and the search for “home” and family histories. In this follow-up to her award-winning debut collection, The Water Between Us, Shara McCallum artfully draws from the language and imagery of her Caribbean background to play a haunting and soulful tune.

The Water Between Us

1998 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize winner.

The Water Between Us is a poetic examination of cultural fragmentation, and the exile's struggle to reconcile the disparate and often conflicting influences of the homeland and the adopted country. The book also centers on other kinds of physical and emotional distances: those between mothers and daughters, those created by being of mixed racial descent, and those between colonizers and the colonized. Despite these distances, or perhaps because of them, the poems affirm the need for a multilayered and cohesive sense of self. McCallum's language is precise and graceful. Drawing from Anancy tales, Greek myth, and biblical stories, the poems deftly alternate between American English and Jamaican patois, and between images both familiar and surreal.