I principally write poems, but I also write personal essays from time to time. In all cases, I write about things that elude me and which seem paradoxical in nature. I tend to be drawn toward autobiography as a beginning point (rarely an end), the self as something worth interrogating, and the meeting point between the individual life and history. As a woman, a woman of colour, a mixed-race black person, a Jamaican-American, an emigrant/immigrant, I find I’m often attracted to writing about and through ruptures and fault lines of identity. Race, gender, migration, memory, sexual assault, motherhood, family stories, death, and mental illness or madness in a more vernacular sense–these are some of the subjects I seem to return to again and again.
The impulses behind my writing vary but as a poet they tend toward the lyric–language generated through music, metaphor, and voice. Ideas and stories also play a role but often take a back seat in my mind to the lyric that I hear whenever I hear language that strikes me as wanting to be or already being a poem. With personal essays, in contrast, I like how discursive the form is and how I can, on a bigger canvas, include an array of subjects and modes while simultaneously constructing a kind of argument or thru-line about a single subject. On the micro-level with both forms, I enjoy working with syntax and diction that gestures toward thoughts and feelings hard to express, as well as uncovering the music of language–whether that be the music of the poetic line or the English sentence and its cadences.
I don’t write in a fixed way or place or on a schedule, but I do have some habits that I’ve noted make it more likely I will write: reading a lot, first and foremost, makes me inclined to pursue this shared art we as writers are invested in keeping alive and pushing forward. On a more practical side–keeping a notebook and getting up early both help to put me in the presence of and practice of using language toward an artful and revelatory end.“McCallum’s fifth book of poetry lyrically explores the world of relationships, race, and colonialism through the lens of her Jamaican birth and childhood. Many of the poems are about loss—of a lover, a grandmother, and even, in the future, the speaker’s own children, and the madwoman who questions the mores and culture of her country—becomes a repeated theme. McCallum’s sure-footed use of various styles, from prose poems and question-and-answer poems to ones that incorporate myth and riddles, is rooted in language that effectively conveys thoughts and emotions, and her strong voice does not veer from the visceral… A collection not to be missed.” ~Library Journal, October 1, 2016Madwoman has been named to the shortlist of the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize, the Caribbean’s top literary award, sponsored by One Caribbean Media, parent company of the Express and TV6 and radio network.
Linda K. Sienkiewicz is the author of the award-winning novel In the Context of Love, a story about one woman’s need to tell her truth without shame.
2017 New Apple Book Awards Official Selection
2016 Sarton Women’s Fiction Finalist
2016 Eric Hoffer Book Award Finalist
2016 Readers’ Favorite Finalist
2016 USA Book News Best Book Finalist
“…at once a love story, a cautionary tale, and an inspirational journey.” ~ Bonnie Jo Campbell, author of National Book Award Finalist, American Salvage, and critically acclaimed Once Upon a River,and Mothers, Tell Your Daughters