Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance
Elizabeth Gauffeau’s Grief Songs is a short book that leaves a long, lingering presence. The book is a collection of personal photographs paired with mostly tanka poems. (A tanka is a 5-line poem typically written as syllabic lines of 5-7-5-7-7). This means that each poem is a sharp distillation of a moment, an event, or even the history of a relationship between parents, between her and her parents, or between her and her brother.
Because the poems are brief, the book can be read very quickly. However, a reader who lingers over words and photos will be rewarded. The poems and the feelings behind them grow with repeated readings. I must say that sometimes I was left wondering what happened. This is not a criticism of the poems, but rather, my own curiosity about people. “Youth Group Picnic,” for example, gives us a glimpse of the day—two children waiting in the car, giggling and honking the horn. Liz fills in the rest of the story here on her blog.
“For a Crooked Smile,” however, needs no additional context.
“He was my little brother.”
That poem brought me to tears (as did several others):
Grief Song III
I held her hand
as she lay dying
in my throat.
This is a book of poetry that is highly accessible, but with poems that resonate. It is a memoir in bite-size pieces. Each poem is a snapshot, a memory experienced in the way we are all hit by a sudden remembrance of a time, a place, or a person.
In “Sixty Years of Katherine,” Liz writes:
“minutes tucked into envelopes
decades left in dresser drawers”
These lines feel both personal and universal. Those of us who have helped a parent move or who have cleared a home after they’ve passed, understand the complex emotions behind these beautiful, succinct phrases.
Elizabeth Gauffreau is wonderfully supportive friend of other writers. I follow her blog and follow her on social media, and you may want to, as well. But– this review is unsolicited. I did not tell her I was writing or posting it. She may respond to comments here though.
Congratulations, Liz, on this lovely, poignant book!
From her website:
Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Woven Tale Press, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in North of Oxford, The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge. Her debut novel Telling Sonny was published by Adelaide Books, New York in 2018.
Find Grief Songs here on Amazon.
You can find Liz here:
Reblogged this on OPENED HERE >> https:/BOOKS.ESLARN-NET.DE.
Thank you for the reblog, Michael! I really appreciate it.
Always with a great pleasure, Liz! xx Michael
Thanks for mentioning Elisabeth’s great new book. Its also wonderful reading it on a daily basis. I wish you a Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays! xx Michael
Thank you so much, Michael! Happy Holidays to you, too!
Thank you, Michael. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book!
Its a wonderful one, Liz. Thanks for writing it. Have great festive days! xx Michael
Thank you, Michael! I hope you have a great festive season as well.
Thank you very much, Liz! Oh, today we got a lot of snow. That makes fun! 😉 xx Michael
You’re welcome, Michael! I woke up to new-fallen snow this morning. It’s lovely!
Thank you, Liz! Snow is wonderful for the Christmas mood. Enjoy it, and have a nice time! xx Michael
You’re welcome, MIchael! We’re due for more snow later this week.
What a wonderful review, Merril. I see Liz’ name here and there on comments both here and on others we mutually follow. You have sold me on her and now I am inspired to both read and write.
Thank you, Dale. Liz is wonderful, and I really enjoyed her book.
I’ve no doubt!
Thank you, Dale.
My pleasure, Liz.
Elizabeth is outstanding, beyond that – I’m speechless.
Thank you. I agree.
Thank you for your support, GP!
It sounds like a great book, Merril: thanks for the recommendation!
You’re welcome, Ingrid!
Liz is a beautiful writer. Thanks so much for spotlighting her today, Merril.
You’re welcome, Jill. Thank you for reading.
Thank you, Jill.
I really enjoy Elizabeth’s books. Her writing is simply beautiful. My heartfelt congratulations to her, and a bow to you Merril for featuring her. Wonderful!
Thank you so much, Gwen! I really appreciate your support.
Reblogged this on The Wombwell Rainbow.
Thank you, Paul.
Thank you for the reblog, Paul.
You’re more than welcome, Liz
Thank you for this wonderful review of Grief Songs, Merril. It means a lot to me.
You are very welcome, Liz!
Liz will treasure such a review from you, Merril
I hope so, Derrick. Thank you.
Indeed I do treasure it, Derrick!
Thank you for this Merril, I too am yet to write on Liz’s wonderfully moving work – I so enjoyed this.
Thank you for reading, Paul.
My pleasure Merril.
Thank you, Paul. I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed Grief Songs.
I admire Liz, her work, and how supportive she is of other writers’ blogs and books. Yay, Liz, and thanks Merril for this fine review!
Thank you, Marian!
Thank you so much, Marian!
Must add: I too have written a review of Grief Songs: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4268315688
That’s lovely Marian. Thank you for sharing.
I seldom go on Goodreads. (I just find it annoying.) 😀
Thank you, Marian!
What a lovely review. I too have seen Liz on this and many other blogs and always enjoy reading her comments. Now I’ll be enjoying her other writing as well 🙂
Wonderful, Marie! 😀
Thank you, Marie!
Beautiful review, Merril! Glad up to see you having a fun holiday on Facebook!
Thanks so much, Luanne!
Amazing review. And the book sounds like it’s really good too, with the use of simple yet beautiful language
Thank you very much.
Excellent! I like Liz, lots. I follow her. She always has a few good words for everyone.
Thank you very much, Resa! That’s so sweet.
…. like you!
Happy New Year, Liz! xo
Happy New Year, Resa!! 🙂
Reblogged this on Elizabeth Gauffreau and commented:
I am very pleased to share Merril Smith’s review of my debut poetry collection, Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance.
A wonderful review. Its absolutely true that “Elizabeth Gauffreau is wonderfully supportive friend of other writers”.
Thank you! I’m pleased you agree.
Wonderful review! Sharing…
Wonderful! Thank you.
Loved the review and the poems she quoted!
I’m pleased you enjoyed the review.
Wonderful review for Liz’s poems …have shared on Twitter 🙂
Thanks so much!
Wow! What an excellent review! Congratulations, Liz!
I’m pleased you thought so
Thank you, Pete!
A lovely review of a lovely collection. I read it once, then I read it again, and I’m sure I’ll return soon. You’re so right about Liz’s support for other writers – she’s such a good friend to have here!
Thank you–yes, she is!
Wonderful review!!! 🙂
I loved this book Merrild. The poems about Liz’s family felt so personal to her and yet universally relatable. A beautiful review. Congrats to Liz. 🙂
Thank you, D.
Thank you, Diana.
Reblogged this on Bonnie Reads and Writes and commented:
Reblogged on Bonnie Reads and Writes.
Congratulations, Liz, on the wonderful review! Thank you. Merril, for sharing your thoughts in such an articulate way. Well done. 🙂
Thank you, Mark.
Thank you, Mark!
Ahhh, now I remember!
Lol…mind like a sieve, I say! My mind, not yours!
OH! I had read this review when you posted it.
However Liz just reblogged it. I thought I had missed it, but in actuality, had forgotten!
Wonderful review, pieces of her work you have chosen resonates well with what you’ve written. For me the most impressive is “a reader who lingers over words and photos will be rewarded. The poems and the feelings behind them grow with repeated readings.” This is the feeling I hope to have whenever I pick up a piece of book or any piece of art, something to make it special and connect. Great review.
Thank you very much for stopping by and leaving such a thoughtful comment.
A wonderful review of her book. She is a wonderful writer and poet.
Thank you, Dwight. I agree.