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Chet’la Sebree recommends: ‘No Ruined Stone’ by Shara McCallum

Written by Chet’la Sebree for The Lily on Saturday, January 23, 2021

I’ve been eagerly awaiting Shara McCallum’s ‘No Ruined Stone’ since before many of the poems were even penned. Rooted in research, the poetry collection recasts the life and legacy of celebrated Scottish poet Robert Burns — imagining that he moved to Jamaica, where he nearly migrated to work as a bookkeeper on a plantation. In this fictional history, Burns’s granddaughter, Isabella, is one of the main voices. Born an enslaved Black woman, Isabella crosses the same ocean her ancestors crossed in different capacities to pass as a White woman in Scotland. McCallum’s collection, through a strong commitment to craft and narrative, grapples with race, violence, colonialism and inheritance. ‘No Ruined Stone’ is striking and unsettling in all of the ways I love my art.

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