The Art Room

Shara McCallum

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About The Author

Shara McCallum was born in Jamaica, and moved to the U.S. when she was nine. She earned a BA from the University of Miami, an MFA from the University of Maryland, and a PhD from Binghamton University. Her collections of poetry include The Water Between Us (1999), Song of Thieves (2003), This Strange Land (2011), and The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems (2011). She is a professor of English and the director of the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University. She is the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2013, she was awarded the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress.

The Art Room

By: Shara McCallum


for my sisters


Because we did not have threads

of turquoise, silver, and gold,

we could not sew a sun nor sky.

And our hands became balls of fire.

And our arms spread open like wings.


Because we had no chalk or pastels,

no toad, forest, or morning-grass slats

of paper, we had no colour

for creatures. So we squatted

and sprang, squatted and sprang.


Four young girls, plaits heavy

on our backs, our feet were beating

drums, drawing rhythms from the floor;

our mouths became woodwinds;

our tongues touched teeth and were reeds.

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Theme Of The Poem

I think the theme of this poem has to do with growing up. She gives an example of this theme in line 5 when she says, "And our arms spread open like wings." This is showing the progression, like a child to adult, of something growing from little and simple to big and extravagant.

Interpretation of Poem

When she would say, "Because we did not have threads of turquoise, silver, and gold, we could not sew a sun nor sky" and "Because we had no chalk or pastels, no toad, forest, or morning-grass slats of paper, we had no colour for creatures." I think she was meaning because we are not older we can not do something. I also think this poem is about growing up, and children wishing they could do something that they can not do until they are older.
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