Caribbean Region, Jamaican-born Poet Shara McCallum, Kingston/Jamaica, Poem “Springbank” by Shara McCallum, Poetry Collection No Ruined Stone (2021) by Shara McCallum, Robert Burns (1759-1796), Scotland’s Role in West Indian Slave Trade, Slavery in Jamaica/West Indies, Speculative Narrative Caribbean Poetry
My Poetry Corner February 2022 features the poem “Springbank” from the poetry collection, No Ruined Stone, by the award-winning Caribbean American poet and writer Shara McCallum. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, in 1972, to an Afro-Jamaican father and a Venezuelan mother, she was nine years old when she migrated to Miami, Florida, with her mother and sisters. Her father, a singer and songwriter suffering from schizophrenia, stayed behind in Jamaica where he took his life not long after their departure.
McCallum graduated with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Miami. She earned her MFA from the University of Maryland and a PhD in African and Caribbean Literature from Binghamton University in New York. Her poems and essays have appeared in journals, anthologies, and textbooks throughout the USA, Latin America, Europe, and Israel. No Ruined Stone, published in the UK and USA in 2021, is the latest of her six books of poetry.
No Ruined Stone is a collection of speculative narrative poetry inspired by McCallum’s first visit to Scotland in 2015, where she unearthed historical records revealing that the country’s most celebrated poet, Robert Burns (1759-1796), had made plans to leave his homeland. Throughout the late summer and into the fall of 1786, Burns booked passage on three different vessels that sailed to Jamaica. He had accepted employment as a “bookkeeper” on a slave plantation in Jamaica owned and managed by his countryman, Charles Douglas. Was he trying to escape financial ruin as a struggling tenant farmer? Or was he fleeing responsibility for having impregnated a young woman out of wedlock? At the time, he was also working on publication of his first book of poetry which was well received, changing the course of his life.Continue reading