Shara McCallum was born in Jamaica to an African Jamaican father and a Venezuelan mother and moved to the United States with her family 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). Her work considers the intersections of race, gender, history, and personal identity; in an interview, she noted that "poetry helps me explore the ways we understand complex notions of identity, whether that's personal, familial, or cultural.”
A professor of English and the director of the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University, McCallum 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.