Shara McCallum was born on October 18, 1972, in Jamaica to Afro-Jamaican and Venezuelan parents and moved to the United States at the age of nine. She received a BA from the University of Miami, an MFA from the University of Maryland, and a PhD in poetry and African American and Caribbean literature from SUNY Binghamton University.
McCallum is the author of many collections, including No Ruined Stone (Alice James Books, 2021), a finalist for the 2022 UNT Rilke Prize; Madwoman (Alice James Books, 2017), winner of the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature in Poetry; The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems (Peepal Tree Press, 2011); This Strange Land (Alice James Books, 2011); Song of Thieves (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003); and The Water Between Us (University of Pittsburgh Press, 1999), winner of the 1998 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize.
McCallum is also the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, and the Witter Bynner Foundation. She also received a college prize from the Academy of American Poets, and her work has appeared in the Best American Poetry series.
From 2003 to 2017, McCallum served as the director of the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. She has also taught at Drew University, the University of Memphis, the University of Southern Maine, and the University of West Indies in Barbados. She currently teaches at Penn State University and lives in Pennsylvania.