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Water Between Us (Pitt Poetry Series) Paperback – October 15, 1999

5 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“The poems in The Water Between Us work to a compelling cumulative effect. . . .  McCallum’s poems investigate childhood through the speaker’s engagement in the excavation of a literal and figurative prelapsarian garden. . . The poems possess a layered allusiveness; they are both discovery and invention. This work incorporates fairy tale and myth to enlarge upon and dramatize its narrative, which is rendered in simple, clear, almost transparent language. . . . This is an arresting new voice, it sings like a ‘surf rupturing herself again and again’.”
--Boston Review


“Shara McCallum is well launched. Her first book, The Water Between Us is beautiful, a weak word to describe such strong poems but beautiful they are, sad and happy, amusing and sobering in their telling of identity, of grief and of pride. She has chosen wisely not to footnote or explain the words peculiar to her culture. She leaves the reader to learn from the rhythm of them all that matters, to absorb them as a child would her own language that leans not on grammar but on sound. She may be young but she is far from immature.”
--Poetlore


“McCallum’s poems are startling in their breadth of experience and language . . . [they] wrestle with her own history  as well as with our accepted history, and while her answers are not always pleasant, they are never without truth stolen from lies, beauty wrenched from pain.”
—Smartish Pace

About the Author

Shara McCallum’s first boo, The Water Between Us, won the 1998 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. Born in Jamaica, she lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee.
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Product Details

  • Series: Pitt Poetry Series
  • Paperback: 96 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press; 1 edition (October 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0822957108
  • ISBN-13: 978-0822957102
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,907,726 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
McCallum explores her relationship to her homeland and her parents with neither bitterness nor sentimentality, and has chosen, instead, to find her salvation in the beauty of verse. "Water Between Us" is one of the best collections of the year. McCallum is the mistress of the image.
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Then I picked it up again, and gave myself an entire week to read it. After two readings, I was still caught up in Ms. McCallum's amazing poems. Now I am on my third reading of the book, and I don't see how I won't continue to read it, over and over again. Ms. McCallum has a wonderful, tight rein on her writing -- plain, yet vivid, images; strong language that speaks to the mind and the heart. She's a breath of fresh air, something anyone who enjoys poetry will appreciate. Pick it up, and you won't ever put it down.
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Format: Paperback
there was my mother
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,
lifting leaves
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 ›
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