Organic Nostalgia

By Julia Cirignano

Thank you to Button Poetry for gifting me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

Lured by nostalgia quick wit, I fell head over heels for Phil Kayes newest release Date & Time. This is a book of self-exploration yet the personal details work to tickles the readers own nostalgia. Beginning with a conversation titled “The Author & The Author at 7 Years Old Choose a Movie to Watch”, Kaye immediately draws his readers in.

Throughout this collection, Kaye is really good at exploring different perspectives on the same situation — a skill he has obviously adapted throughout the years.

Using pace, metaphor, irony, and other literary devices, Kayes writing is also phenomenally simple and easy to follow. It is painstakingly relatable while specific to his own childhood. He talks about growing up with a new found appreciation — a new perspective he has acquired.

Throughout this collection, Kaye pays tribute to his family as he explores their weaknesses and strengths. He especially shows gratitude towards his mother in the poem “Letter To My Mother Where I Apologize For Her Appearance In The Book”.

Kaye uses his perspective as a Japanese Jew to completely annihilates racism, while still respecting different perspectives. He weaves race into each of his concepts in an organic way, first mentioning the concept when he says,

“holding my father’s furry Jewish hand

as he spoke perfect Japanese to me”

In terms of the race conversation, I feel like this book climaxed at “Teeth”, a poem that truly shows how different his mother and father’s families really are. This poem is a thorough depiction of an ironically interracial family with two very different perspectives brought together by one mutual love.

Kaye also exploits himself in this collection, especially in his poem “Strength, In Four Parts”, a poem on masculinity from the eyes of the skinny highschooler.

Stylistically, Kaye takes advantage of literary devices — letting them work in an organic way instead of forcing them onto the poem. He uses devices such a shifting across the page and using italics in smart ways. He uses these devices to communicate on another level–beyond the plot of the story he is telling.

Kaye’s use of pace and metaphor is also well executed. For example, I really enjoyed his poem “Succulent” where he compares a dying flower to a dying relationship.

Below, enjoy some of my favorite quotes from Date & Time,

“the funny thing about magic, of course

is that the more you learn

the less you believe in magic”


he says, hate is a strong word

but it is the only strength I have left


“even at nine years old

I think about how odd it must feel

to be famous for your sadness” 


“I watched my country turn scarlet”



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