Interior Image

Carolyn Beard Whitlow

Years: 2000, 2003, 2004


Awarded residencies at Yaddo, Soul Mountain, and Hedgebrook, Carolyn Beard Whitlow is Dana Professor of English at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, where she has taught Creative Writing and African-American Literature since 1993. Finalist for the 1991 Barnard New Women Poets Prize, and the 2005 Ohio State University Poetry Prize, she completed the M.F.A. at Brown University, where she won the Rose Low Rome Memorial Prize in Poetry. Named Phi Beta Kappa Poet of the Alpha of Rhode Island in 1989, she published her first poetry collection, Wild Meat, in 1986 with Lost Roads. Selected as one of ten North Carolina poets to appear on the 1997 PBS series “Poetry Live” hosted by Charles Kuralt, her most recent book, Vanished, won the 2006 Naomi Long Madgett Poetry Award. Whitlow is also a visual artist and quilter whose work can be found at .


Local Call


You handle me like I’m a local call.

I’m expensive. Long distance—although

having never been loved I don’t know how


to tell you so. So I answer the phone,

anticipate its diamond ring and let

you handle me like I’m a local call,


your line old as an old simile, stale

as a dead metaphor, you who’s always had,

having. Never been loved, I don’t know how


not to wish you would not stop stop not

loving me, the sidewalk running past me,

you handle me like I’m a local, call,


laugh in another language, hung phone screaming,

me unsure whether my anger volcano or match—

I don’t know, having never been loved, how


to love, my mind stalled with graffiti,

imagination sore, , hum “Don’t want nobody

don’t want me,” accept your local call,

having never been loved, knowing I don’t know how.