"I love that I am able to contribute in different ways to Bucknell to help our community be a beacon for intellectual enterprise, artistic expression and curiosity."

Shara McCallum started writing poems when she was a teenager — but never took them seriously.

"I was a first-generation college student," she says. "I went to school intending to be a doctor or a lawyer, until I took a poetry workshop and realized someone with my background could actually be a writer."

Born in Jamaica, McCallum is interested in the relationship between the individual and history and issues of race and gender identity.

"Poetry helps me explore the ways we understand complex notions of identity, whether that's personal, familial, or cultural," she says. "Poetry links us to each other and to the human experience. The precise use of language, the diligence and attentiveness poetry needs, makes it inherently meditative. It requires that we slow down and pay attention to our surroundings and to one another."

McCallum works closely with her students to help them capitalize on poetry's meditative nature, and she finds that her students are often eager to introduce boundaries in their lives.

"Many students are overwhelmed by technology," she says. "Facebook is always on, their texts are always chiming. In my classes, I offer writing exercises where students can remove themselves from interruption, put pen to paper and try to write for 10 minutes without stopping." The students soon realize they're capable of quietness first, then mental clarity, says McCallum. "They're able to harness their powers of concentration."

In addition to teaching and writing, McCallum directs Bucknell's Stadler Center for Poetry, which promotes poetry across campus, serves as a resource for Bucknell's poets, and brings renowned poets to campus. One of the center's most recent initiatives is the Poetry Path, a walking tour that features poems by contemporary poets and connects the campus to downtown Lewisburg. Along the Poetry Path, visitors can read poems and hear them being read in the voices of the poets themselves.

"I love that I am able to contribute in different ways to Bucknell," says McCallum, "to help our community be a beacon for intellectual enterprise, artistic expression and curiosity."

Posted October 2012

Bucknell Department of English

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