Encouraging Words from Poet Shara McCallum About Dumping Your “Real” Job for Your Passion

In February of 2011, Mansfield University invited award-winning poet Shara McCallum to appear on “Conversations with Dennis Miller.” McCallum, who is the author of poetry books like Song of Thieves and The Water Between Us, sat down with Miller to talk about topics that ranged from poetry to memories she has of her native home, Jamaica.

McCallum starts off the interview by saying she started writing poetry at the tender age of five and has been writing ever since. However, it wasn’t until she was in her 20s that she started to think of herself as a serious writer. McCallum points out that she gradually started letting go of “other identities” and became accustomed to thinking of herself only as a writer. Even though she loved the written word, it was nerve-wracking for McCallum because as the child of immigrant parents, she was the first one to go off to college and admits that there was a lot of pressure on her to take a job that was “practical and responsible.”

Thanks to a teacher who encouraged her to become a poet for a living and told her that even a child of immigrant parents can write beautiful poetry, McCallum pressed on with her dreams of becoming a writer. It was a whole new world for her, as her notions of poetry had previously been wrapped up in the ideals of the usual canon of white male European poets such as Shakespeare, Dante, etc. McCallum goes on to say that one of the driving forces behind her desire to become a poet was to make sense of her life and the lives of her parents. Her poems are not only personal but involve familial history and insights into her culture.

This interview with McCallum is a nice way for fans of her poetry to better understand the inspiration behind her writing, and her words are encouraging for writers who also want to quit their “real” jobs and follow their passion.

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