Friday, March 25, 2022

Winter at a Summer House: Poems by Mary Beth Hines - Review

A beautiful collection of poems that largely focuses on delving into the past (and themes of family, nature, love). Something I suspect we all do, in our quiet moments...turn our eyes and hearts to the past. Because that's often where family dwells, certainly our younger selves too, with all the joy and learning and mistakes. It's a wonderful thing when one reads a poem and immediately recognizes something of themselves in those lines. Striking to me was "Scarborough Sail," the father playing with his child in the sea. Visions of myself and my dad in the ocean as he teaches me to body surf. "December Song" evoked memories of winters and the deer who would appear in our woods when I was growing up. 

"We slip from the forest on charmed, slender legs. 
Our eyes spark with starlight, we dip our sleek heads."

I recommend this collection to anyone who loves poetry and enjoys finding themselves among the lines. 


In Winter at a Summer House, Mary Beth Hines’s poems speak to the sublime and risks in every middle-class home, small city neighborhood, seaside retreat, or suburban backyard. Vivid, tactile imagery suffuses the collection, which follows the arc of a life from birth/first words to death/last words. Together, these poems create a sometimes heartbreaking, but often humorous and joyous, narrative that speaks to all readers.

Advance Praise:
“The poems in Mary Beth Hines’s first collection, Winter at a Summer House, strike a wonderful balance between narratives of everyday experience and a pristine, pure poetic imagination. Always rhythmically diverse, most of the time mellifluous, and often intense, Hines’s poetry vividly paints the life of a modern self-made woman, with her worries and obligations, her family, and her dreams. In response to the heroine’s world, this poetry, never static, vibrates with all sorts of emotions: love, friendship, youthful
infatuations, amorousness, jealousy, altruism. As a result, the book gives its reader all the pleasures of a novel – and of lyric novelty.” – Katia Kapovich, the author of Gogol in Rome and Cossacks and Bandits

“Mary Beth Hines sings to us out of the staircases, back yards, and swimming pools of a life sumptuously lived, a world rife with joys and enticements, with girlhood wish and adulthood tryst. Each song lifts on the updrafts of a language passionately breathed, The poems are arrayed with such stunning craft that the art dissolves into the narrative. One forgets that one is reading and imagines that one is reliving this life. Winter at a Summer House is, in the words of one of the poems, a “gift to spark remembrance,” as if the memories had become our own.” -Tom Daley, the author of House You Cannot Reach

“Hines grew up in Massachusetts, adjacent to the Atlantic Ocean, and the poems in this debut collection are filled with richly detailed imagery evoking the sea—of characters swimming, bathing, diving, as if time were an unpredictable element and living, a process of navigating unexpected currents. … A dynamic and colorful set of poems inspired by water and ocean imagery. ” – Kirkus Reviews

Available at Kelsay Books and Amazon.

About the author
Mary Beth Hines grew up in Massachusetts where she spent Saturday afternoons ditching ballet to pursue stories and poems deep in the stacks of the Waltham Public Library. She earned bachelor of arts in English from The College of the Holy Cross, and studied for a year at Durham University in England. She began a regular creative writing practice following a career in public service (Volpe Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts), leading award-winning national outreach, communications, and workforce programs. Her poetry, short fiction, and non-fiction appear in dozens of literary journals and anthologies both nationally and abroad. Winter at a Summer House is her first poetry collection. When not reading or writing, she swims, walks in the woods, plays with friends, travels with her husband, and enjoys life with their family, including their two beloved grandchildren. Visit her online.

I received this book free of charge from the author. Thank you to Poetic Book Tours for inviting me to participate.

Never miss a post!

* indicates required


Thank you for visiting and taking the time to comment. It means so much.

I apologize for word verification, but as soon as I changed the settings from only users with Google accounts, I started receiving a ton of spam comments...within one hour of changing the settings. The bots are on high alert apparently.

  1. Thank you for being on the blog tour for this one

  2. I also really enjoyed Scarborough Sail. In many ways it's the standout poem of this volume; the wordplay is evocative and the sensory detail as overwhelming as the waves.

  3. What a beautiful post. I really enjoyed reading it, and it truly made me want to get a copy of this book of poems. So much of the poetry I read is from centuries ago--there is a comfort in reading poems of the world I grew up in.

    1. Thank you, Jane. Oddly enough, I'm currently reading Emily Bronte's poems. :)

  4. Not a big fan of poetry I admit but this does sound like it is a nice collection.

- See more at:
- See more at: