The New Colossus

Translated into Jamaican Patwa by Shara McCallum

On my maternal side, I’m from three generations of women born in a country they left. I was born in Jamaica in 1972 and came to the US in 1981 with my mother’s parents and three of my sisters. My grandparents had migrated two years earlier, afraid of increased violence and social and economic unrest in Kingston during the 70s. At the time of my emigration, my parents remained in Jamaica. My father, a Jamaican native, died a few weeks after I arrived in America. My mother, a Venezuelan native, rejoined the family in Miami a year later.

From Jamaica, Shara McCallum is the author of six books, published in the US and UK, including the forthcoming collection No Ruined Stone and her previous collection Madwoman, winner of the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Poetry. McCallum is a professor at Penn State University.

It nuh so brazen like the statue of that Greek God
of the sun, with him limb set like him can walk cross land.
Is nuh fi she that kind a boast and swagger. But here,
at the gate a this sea-wash harbour, this tallawah woman
stand-up with her torch, her flame drawing pon the force
of lightning imprison. Mek her name be known to all:
Mother of Exiles. And from her hand—outstretch, open—
mek this beacon signal the globe’s welcome. Her eyes
command the bridge of air and sea, joining nation
to nation. Her lips in silence speak this oath: “Ancient
lands, keep your storied pomp. Give me your tired, your poor,
your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched
refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless,
tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”