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Water Between Us (Pitt Poetry Series) Paperback – October 15, 1999
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cooking cornmeal porridge,
plantains, and callaloo for later,
my father's guitar notes,
streaming in from the garden,
to hold her singing,
his music, breathing,
that would collect and stir
at his feet, my mother's
clapping hands, bells jingling
on her ankles.
(lns. 12-24 of "In the Garden of Banana and Coconut Trees")
This is the language, the imagery, of Shara McCallum in her collection of poetry, The Water Between Us. Hers is the poetry of island, family, love, and loss. Taken as a whole, the poems portray life from the perspective of a Jamaican woman, one whose experience has been funny, tragic, disturbing, and beautiful.
Throughout the collection, McCallum's language is clear and accessible. This clarity does not lie in simplicity, however, for there is a subtlety to the way she approaches her subjects. She is a storyteller, and her style is of mystery, not insurmountable mystery, but a mystery that gives the reader satisfaction when images, story, emotion, and message merge as one. For instance, her father's cancer, in "Darkling I Listen," is not addressed head on, but treated in a round-about manner as a subject too painful for words like `cancer' to describe. The result is an emotional epiphany for the reader, one that captures the essence of the experience.
This approach is particularly effective in her treatment of the pain in her life, which extends far beyond her father's sickness. The pain she feels in her relationship with her mother permeates the whole of the book, and the reader experiences the awkward discomfort of distance between mother and daughter.
The thrust of the book, happily, is not strictly loss and sadness.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
In this wonderful collection, Shara McCallum explores the nature of an identity that has been divided from itself by geography, culture, and language. Read morePublished on January 13, 2001 by Mark Forrester
WOW! What else can I say but wow? I have been waiting for a book like this to come out for a long time. Read morePublished on November 16, 1999