It’s my great pleasure to welcome Elizabeth Gauffreau to this month’s Launch Pad spot. Like me, you may already be familiar with Liz through her blog, and others of you will know her through her wonderful novel, Telling Sonny, a book I thoroughly enjoyed when I read it earlier this year.
So, let’s find out a little bit more about her. We’ll start with her official author bio:
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. After a misbegotten stint teaching high school English and Latin, she spent her career in nontraditional higher education.
Her recent literary magazine publications include Woven Tale Press, Dash, Pinyon, Aji, Open: Journal of Arts & Letters, and Evening Street Review. Her fiction and poetry have also been featured in several themed anthologies, including Ad Hoc Monadnock, Shifts: An Anthology of Women’s Growth through Change, When Last on the Mountain: The View from Writers over Fifty, Familiar, and Poetry Leaves. Her 2018 debut novel, Telling Sonny, was inspired by a family secret and a lot of research into small-time vaudeville.
Learn more about her work at http://lizgauffreau.com.
Liz lives in Nottingham, New Hampshire with her husband. Their daughter has flown the nest to sunny California.
Liz’s new book of poetry, Grief Songs – Poems of Love & Remembrance, is just out. It’s a deeply moving collection of poetry which speaks to an album of her family photographs. I just finished reading it yesterday, such a wonderful bitter-sweet collection, it moved me deeply. You can read my review here.
Now, let me hand over to Liz to tell us about the background to her new release.
Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Chris. I greatly appreciate it.
I am a fiction writer by training, so I never expected to be releasing a book of poetry, much less a book of poetry written in tanka. However, being a part of our wonderful blogging community for the past several years has given me the inspiration to take my writing in new directions and the courage to publish the results for others to read.
Grief Songs started with the last poem in the collection, “Portland Head Autumnal,” although I had no way of knowing that when I wrote the poem. I had been following Colleen Chesebro’s poetry blog, “Word Craft: Prose & Poetry,” for some time and growing more and more curious to try my hand at syllabic poetry adapted from Japanese, such as haiku and tanka. I wrote “Portland Head Autumnal” as a tanka after a trip to Portland Head Light in Maine on a cold, gray, windy day in September when I could not recall any time I had been to Portland Head when the sky and water were gray, rather than bright blue.
Two months later, my mother died, leaving me the last person in my immediate family. As people do, I turned to the family photograph albums in an attempt to keep my mother with me just a little longer. As part of that process, lines of poetry started coming to me. Tanka seemed the appropriate form to give those lines shape and purpose. In the book, photographs are paired with poems to tell the story of a loving family lost.
Grief is a deeply personal experience, yet it’s an experience many of us have in common, particularly as we get older. What prompted my decision to go ahead with publishing Grief Songs were readers’ responses to some of the individual poems I shared. The poems prompted fond memories of their own loved ones. For me, striking a responsive chord with a reader’s own experience in any number of different ways is what poetry is all about.
Thanks again, Chris, for featuring Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance on your blog and giving me the opportunity to share my thoughts with your readers.
When a loved one dies, the family will often turn to the photograph albums as an act of solace, to keep their loved one with them just a little while longer, Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance arose from that experience. The collection opens with three free verse expressions of raw grief, followed by a series of photographs from the author’s family album, each paired with a poem written in tanka. Taken together, they tell the story of a loving family lost.
Praise for Grief Songs
“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
So lovely, I’ve watched it again and again…
Grief Songs is available in paperback and ebook from all your favourite online bookstores – buy it here
Liz’s social media links
Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Gauffreau
Poets & Writers’ Directory: www.pw.org/node/1079971