Tied to Strings: Family Reunion

the Coomer cousins and SVG at Grandma West's house

Some years ago I did a workshop for teachers centered around memoir writing with students. In preparing for this workshop I scoured  a wide variety of text samples that I could use as memoir examples with students. One book I stumbled upon is now one of my top five favorite poetry collections when teaching students. It is called Strings: A Gathering of Family Poems, selected by Paul B. Janeczko. Many poems I have posted on this blog have come from this book. The book is divided into strings of family groups that tie the book together. Some examples are sections about parents, children, nieces and nephews, and cousins. I am preparing to teach poetry to my sixth grade class and this was the first anthology I revisited today. It is hard to select just one poem to share, but tonight the poem "Family Reunion" was worth a read. As we plan a family reunion for July this poem spoke to me at many levels.
 my Uncle Bob, Auntie Lila, Grandma West, and my mom in 1955

Family Reunion

Sunlight glints off the chrome of many cars.
Cousins chatter like a flock of guineas.

In the shade of oaks and maples
six tables stand
filled with good things to eat.
Only the jars of iced tea sweat.

Here the living and dead mingle
like sun and shadow under old trees.

For the dead have come too,
those dark stern departed who pose
all year in oval picture frames.

They are looking out of the eyes of children,
young sprouts
whose laughter blooms
fresh as the new flowers in the graveyard.
- Jim Wayne Miller


  1. gave me chills. After my mom and aunt died, we quit having those summer reunions. Times have changed.

  2. I LOVE this!! I can picture whose faces are in those oval frames, looking over us this summer in Orofino.


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