Officially, I have not finished Phil Kaye’s debut poetry collection, Date & Time. However, I have about ten poems left, but feel confident I have gotten the point of his work.
I will say that I am not sure of the title, Date & Time, other than saying he does do snapshots of different dates and times in his and his family lives; but I honestly think he might have come up with a stronger title. But that is just me and it is more than likely that this is the perfect title and I am just not “getting it” fully.
With that said, Kaye has a cozy voice. No, really. I was first introduced to him via a spoken word poem he did with another Button Poetry poet. And I have heard other “live” performances via online videos. This translates to his work. His written voice is straight forward for the most part. There were a few places where I missed a few things, but overall, he is an easy poet to understand. He is also a modern poet. He speaks about growing up in a Japanese-Jewish-American household. He deals with the issues of being the skinny kid. The kid who is shy around girls. He talks about love, life and death. He had a grandfather who fought in World War II on the American side and a grandfather who lost his home in Japan during World War II. He mentions some history of his Jewish family who (as he says) ironically hide in ovens to escape the persecution of pre-World War One.
The images he comes up with fit into three categories. He uses the example of every story has a beginning, middle and end. But not necessarily in that order. There is a slight “pre-section” then starts the book with the End, goes to the Beginning and finishes with the Middle. The start of each of the sections has an illustration. Some of the poems paint a picture (the poem Teeth has grave stones likened to teeth in one part). Others give you a feeling. While others might not speak to you at all. Somethings might seem odd: I still am not sure (after at least three reads) about the poem that starts with him talking about mold in the bathroom and ends on a sensual scene after he and his partner use that shower (which feels more erotic then the act itself could have been). You have seen some of the poems before (his poem Depression did seem to give anything new). But overall, these are strong, decent, cozy poems.
As most poems, words are important: the words spoken, not spoken, yelled, heard, understood, not understood and said. His memories are also important. He brings them all together to create a collection that could be read by most poetry lovers and even those not-so-into the poetry genre. Teens (at least 14 and up) to adult are the best audience for his works.