When the dead return
they will come to you in dream
from “No Ruined Stone”
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, most recently No Ruined Stone, a current nominee for a 2022 Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award and 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 poems drawn from her six books and translated into Spanish by Adalber Salas Hernández, was published in 2021 by Mantis Editores in Mexico. In addition to Spanish, McCallum’s poems have been translated into Italian, French, Romanian, Turkish, and Dutch and set to music by composers Marta Gentilucci and Gity Razaz. Awards for her work include the Silver Musgrave Medal, the OCM Bocas Caribbean Poetry Prize, a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, the Oran Robert Perry Burke Award for Nonfiction, and the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, among others. McCallum delivers readings, lectures, and workshops at universities, literary festivals, and various community settings in the US and internationally. She has taught creative writing and literature at several universities and is currently an Edwin Erle Sparks Professor of English at Penn State University and a faculty member in the Pacific Low-Residency MFA Program. From 2021-22, McCallum served as the Penn State Laureate.
McCallum’s recent book
“No Ruined Stone…is arresting, lyrical, wrestling with colonialism, racism, and the knotted legacy of slavery.”
— Nina MacLaughlin for The Boston Globe
“I’ve been eagerly awaiting Shara McCallum’s No Ruined Stone since before many of the poems were even penned…McCallum’s collection, through a strong commitment to craft and narrative, grapples with race, violence, colonialism and inheritance. No Ruined Stone is striking and unsettling in all of the ways I love my art.”
— Chet’la Sebree, for The Lily from The Washington Post
“…McCallum beautifully incorporates the patois of her native Jamaica and employs myth as a way to deal with the mistakes and hurts of the past. McCallum’s striking poems take the madwoman out of her attic so that she may walk and speak among the living.”
—Publishers Weekly starred review of Madwoman
“These are poems of ruin and rebirth, of the joys and damage a mother knows: “Rock and stone// are different words which mean the same when flung;/ beauty delivers its own kind of wound.” Lovely to read, McCallum’s poetry is constructed partly of proper Queen’s English and partly of Jamaican patois, and their blending effectively translates the narrator’s quest to save history, to refuse to let it repeat itself, to define and redefine motherhood and who she is. “Where are you, mother,/ now the spell is broken?// ~ Daughter, I am the dark in your eye.” VERDICT This is a marvelous collection filled with a lovely and evocative music. Highly recommended.
—Library Journal starred review of This Strange Land