Overdue Book Review #1: Elizabeth Gauffreau, Grief Songs

I am very pleased to share Merril Smith’s review of my debut poetry collection, Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance.

Yesterday and today: Merril's historical musings

Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance

Elizabeth Gauffeauโ€™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. โ€œYouth Group Picnic,โ€ for example, gives us aโ€ฆ

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128 thoughts on “Overdue Book Review #1: Elizabeth Gauffreau, Grief Songs

  1. Congratulations! With that level of acclaim, in Merril Smith’s review, for your debut poetry collection, you would seem to be well on your way. Thus so in this aged world of the poetic language. One that has finally, more than broken away, from the used to be impositions, classification, regimentation and form, as in number of lines, and on… Bravo my friend and fellow scribbler. I wish you many happy days of successful writing !

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you very much for your thoughtful comments, Jean-Jacques! I have another poetry collection in the works, but it needs to take a back seat to fiction for the time being. I look forward to getting back to it.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. This is Merril’s review, but I think her approach is similar to mine, which is to try to write about my experience of reading a book in a way that will let others know whether it would be an experience they would enjoy.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Merrilโ€™s review was brilliant, Liz! Especially these lines: โ€œBecause 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.โ€ The emphasis on the repeated readings resonates. Your poetry allows for reflection and meditation that soothes the tired spirit. Grief Songs is a love song to all those who gave and continue to give meaning and hope to our journey.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. What a fabulous review, Merril! I agree with you wholeheartedly. I also find that the words and images of the photos remain even to the present date with what I read in Grief Songs. Congratulations, Liz on this wonderful review!

    Liked by 3 people

          1. I should do both, Liz! My daughter wanted me to send her all the photos of my parents. She also organizes photos from her dad who passed away in 2019. She wants to keep the legacy. I should do some albums with even just notes for her to keep and pass on.

            Liked by 2 people

            1. Maybe you could work on the project together? That’s what my mother and I did. She also did family histories of both her parents’ ancestors. (I served as editor, and it just about drove me crazy! No regrets, though.)

              Liked by 2 people

              1. That’s a wonderful idea to work with my daughter together. She has a handful at this point though. When we were there, we could see that she didn’t have any relaxing moment. She had to rest or do something quiet with Autumn when Nora takes a nap in the afternoon.
                I’ll do as much as I could for now.

                Liked by 1 person

  4. Congratulations, Liz!

    Merril is a wonderful writer, in her own right.
    IMHO the fact that she has chosen your book as the subject of a review is quite impressive.
    I’ll head over shortly, to read the review, and catch up on her blog.
    Seems I’m always catching up.
    When you first announced this book, it sounded fab to me.

    There are many books I would like to read. The situation is that I have been boycotting Amazon for 6 years.
    I have a Kobo, and have been buying some books there.
    Okay…let me go read the full review!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Liz, congratulations on this wonderful review by Merrill, a superb and touching literary exploration of your poems. How true that your work is both personal and universal! A collection richly deserving this discerning praise. I’ve held off reading this until finishing my own review of ‘Grief Songs’ — I see there are certain lines that stand out for us both! I hope to post my review on Sunday. It is a very special book and one to which I keep returning. hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

  6. This is so cool Liz, and I think the greatest compliment in the review 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 special as it shows your words and creativity captures the heart of the reader. Beautiful and congratulations ~

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I read Merril’s review Liz which you may know and I loved it. She did a marvelous job capturing the essence and beautify of your words and all of your wonderful insights. You have a beautiful collection, congratulations! ๐Ÿ’–

    Liked by 1 person

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