From Jamaica, Shara McCallum is the author of five books of poetry, published in the US and UK, most recently Madwoman, winner of the 2018 OCM Bocas Poetry Prize for Caribbean Literature and the 2018 Sheila Margaret Motton Book Prize. Her work has been published in the US, the Caribbean, and Europe, has been translated into several languages, and has received such recognition as a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Formerly the Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry, McCallum is now a Liberal Arts Professor of English at Penn State University.
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.
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.