Carolyn Guinzio

Carolyn Guinzio was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She earned her BA at Columbia College Chicago and MFA from Bard College in New York. She has received awards from the Arts Councils of Illinois and Kentucky, the Fund for Poetry, and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Blackbird, Colorado Review, Puerto Del Sol, Smartish Pace, and New American Writing. Her first book, West Pullman, won the 2004 Bordighera Poetry Prize and appeared in an English/Italian edition. Her second book is Quarry (Parlor Press, 2008). Spoke & Dark, her third book, is the winner of the A Room of Her Own Foundation’s To the Lighthouse Publication Prize. She lives with her husband, Davis McCombs, and their children, Warren and Charlotte, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

All Books

Spoke & Dark

Carolyn Guinzio

Publication Date: September 1, 2012

$17.95 Tradepaper

ISBN: 978-1-59709-229-6


There is no word for the place between the dying hand and the living hand that holds it, but there is a space between those hands. Spoke & Dark dwells there, in the tensions that inhere between one thing & another: lost & found, future & past, life & afterlife. Using typographical symbols (#, /, and especially &) to delineate these phantom spaces, Spoke & Dark explores the wild fluctuations in the nature of the known, searching for a language for the unknowable.

Praise for Spoke & Dark:

“Proposal: the humblest part of speech as a principle of cognition. As in the and, the one thing and another. As in the mortal paradox: here and gone. As in the newborn’s foundational gaze, when ‘face seeks / face to fix upon.’ Carolyn Guinzio is far too savvy a writer to make her case with circumstantial detail, the plausible gestures of auto- or allo-biography. She is after recognition of a far more essential, far more demanding sort. And, thrillingly, this is exactly what she achieves, in a book as beautifully crafted and stirringly intelligent as any I have read in a very, very long time. These are brilliant, heartening, necessary poems.”—Linda Gregerson, 2007 National Book Award Finalist, author of Waterborne

“Here is poetry surefooted and supple, ‘wild and delicate/both, how strange.’ A good solid strangeness at the core; a command of pivotal shifts in tonality, guiding the pacing of these poems; an intuitive, understatedly dramatic way of bringing a poem to a close, one that does not cinch or bind (‘the best part is the end, that incidental/silence that shows the rest for what it was.’)–all contribute to a collection that summons up the deep pleasures and rewards of the poetry of Basil Bunting and Lorine Niedecker. A remarkable and startling collection.”—Alice Quinn


TEA BY THE SEA listed on Electric Lit!

My mom says every mother needs a daughter. It’s not that she doesn’t love and appreciate her two sons. My middle brother knows best how to comfort her in times […]

TEA BY THE SEA featured in Fordham Magazine!

In her long-awaited second novel, Donna Hemans, the author of River Woman (2002), weaves a compelling tale of longing—to belong, to find family and a sense of home, to be fulfilled, and […]

Read Donna Hemans’ essay on Ploughshares!

The operator-assisted collect call comes on a July morning in 1987. It’s still early, before 9 a.m., and except for the telephone ringing, the house is quiet, my younger sister […]

2020 Great Group Reads Selections

Women’s National Book Association features TEA BY THE SEA: The 2020 Great Group Reads selections have been chosen! This year’s list features books from a wide-range of styles and from […]

5 Books You May Have Missed in June

Each month I comb through hundreds of titles to choose the five I list here, and each month I come up with 30 to 50 that are worthy of consideration. […]

Blog Tour: Tea by the Sea

Thank you to the following blogs for featuring Donna Heman’s Tea by the Sea! The Livre Café Jessica Belmont Fiction Matters Everyday I Write the Book Never Without A Book […]

TBLR: Importing Color

During the ongoing shelter-in-place regime, I should be reading fiction and transporting myself to other worlds that might afford me a semblance of normality or familiarity. But I don’t seem […]

Repeating Islands: Donna Hemans

Donna Heman’s forthcoming novel Tea by the Sea is now available for pre-ordering. It will be released on June 9, 2020 (Red Hen Press). Marlon James (author of Black Leopard, Red Wolf) writes: […]

Poets & Writers: Tea by the Sea

“Eight years of active searching had come to this: an abandoned house, an outdoor stove, and a doll, signs of a former life but necessarily his and hers.” In this […]

NY Post: The best books of the week

Tea by the SeaDonna Hemans (fiction, Red Hen Press)Plum Valentine’s daughter was taken from her the day after the baby was born, snatched, without explanation, by the girl’s father. Seventeen […]

The Rumpus: An Exploration of Belonging

Jamaica-born writer Donna Hemans has been said to hear “life sung by a chorus, not a single voice.” Her plots are as intense as thrillers yet as resonant as poetry, and the lyricism and […]


Midwest Book Review: Tea by the Sea

A deftly crafted and entertaining work of impressive literary nuance, “Tea by the Sea” by Donna Hemans is an extraordinary, original, and inherently fascinating novel that is especially and unreservedly […]

Donna Hemans, “Tea by the Sea” Review

A new father walks out of the hospital with his day-old baby while the mother recuperates from giving birth. He tells a series of lies and moves houses or countries […]

Blog Tour: Tea by the Sea

Thank you to the following blogs for featuring Donna Heman’s Tea by the Sea! The Livre Café Jessica Belmont Fiction Matters Everyday I Write the Book Never Without A Book […]

KIRKUS: Tea by the Sea

A young mother goes on a quest to track down the father of her child, who abducted their baby daughter shortly after her birth. When Plum Valentine is in high […]