Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance


Not for me 😔

An example of how family can be honoured through adding written memories to family photographs.

Grief Songs: Poems of Love and Remembrance is a collection of poetry set to photographs. It revolves around the author’s family and the strength of her love for them.

The opening photo of a gravestone leaves no doubt that the main subject of this book will be George: the author’s brother. The photos then take a chronological journey from Gauffreau’s early childhood to the present day, depicting family outings, treasured moments: “Wait till your father gets home not a threat but a promise”, and happy-in-the-photo moments with underlying tension: “Daddy’s favorite portrait / little did he know / George had cried piteous tears while I railed against my bangs”.

The family photographs are typical of their time: a black-and-white portrait with colour added, posed black-and-white shots from the 1950s and 1960s, moving to colour snapshots as the technology in the 1970s developed. Not always in focus, not always perfectly composed, such photography will be familiar to anyone who has photo albums recording the lives of people born before the digital age.

The poems are short: three to four lines each. Each poem follows a photo, contextualising what is in the frame with the author’s thoughts and memories.

The layout of the book makes it difficult to follow: the lack of hard returns jumbles up the lines of the poems, interrupting the flow. The pictures and poems flow without break, making it confusing to follow as the text is not always on the same page as the photo it supports. Headings are used; however, it is unclear why some of them are large and bold and others are in smaller font. Lack of attention to such details diminishes the reader experience.

Grief Songs is a quick read. The subject matter is not compelling enough to warrant a break in order for the reader to process the emotion of it. Therefore, the pictures and poems become a list of experiences that the reader is detached from – pleasant enough to engage in, without making an impact.

Grief Songs is worthy as a good family memory, an example of what people can do with an old photo collection to honour its inhabitants. Whether it makes an impression beyond that is for the reader to judge.

Reviewed by

Proud to be the author of TWO published books! New release October 2021, in print and ebook form. My books feature my poetry and art, and depict my journey through depression and into wellness. I'd love to know what you think of my work: feel free to ask me questions or write a review.


"A beautiful, personal collection of family photos and poems that express the author's most inner feelings. Nostalgic and heartfelt, Gauffreau's poems are written in the Japanese style of tanka, simple, thoughtful, and full of love. Filled with wonderful memories of the past."

~Kristi Elizabeth, Manhattan Book Review

"Poetry readers willing to walk the road of grief and family connections will find Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance a psychological treasure trove. It's a very accessible poetic tribute that brings with it something to hold onto--the memories and foundations of past family joys, large and small."

~Diane Donovan, Midwest Book Review

"Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance is a passionate ode to loved ones lost and an intimate portrayal of one family's shared grief. It holds the key to solace in home photographs and illustrates just how special our singular moments can be.

~Toni Woodruff, Independent Book Review

About the author

Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. Her fiction and poetry have been published in literary magazines and several themed anthologies. Her debut novel, Telling Sonny, was published in 2018. Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband. view profile

Published on September 26, 2021

Published by Paul Stream Press

2000 words

Genre: Poetry

Reviewed by