Phil Kaye’s “Date and Time” Dazzles

I have been an avid reader of poetry for years. The way poetry can soothe my soul and speak every word on my mind in harmonious metaphors is what captures me. I get lost in poems left and right, and Phil Kaye’s “Date and Time” is no exception.

Phil Kaye’s debut collection of poems, released in August 2018, is raw and authentic. He shines through every page as he discusses the intricacies of adolescence. He unites the reader and himself by drawing on the trials and troubles we face as we get older. We can all find ourselves within the pages of Kaye’s book, traveling with him in the middle of what makes us human, innocent and young. The feeling of “what’s next” permeates the book, as well as vulnerability and comfort.

Poetry often draws on the temporality of life. Time is always coming at us and as much as we’d like to stop it, we can’t. We must keep trudging forward, and Kaye’s book brings us a sense of relief that we are all trudging along together. He is aware of how hard life hits us, and delicately handles all the nuanced feelings that come with understanding our place in the world against adversity. 

Kaye’s poetry hits us at times we don’t expect it, just like life does. Kaye faces many challenges in his childhood, between divorce, mental health and a troubled self image, and he draws upon the difficulties of the feelings associated with them in a new way. Guilt rides along throughout the book as he tries to grasp the world, as well as fear, humor and awareness. If I had to pinpoint all the feelings Kaye elicits, I couldn’t do it justice. 

He plays with our understanding of ourselves as well. He often finds himself talking to his younger self or comparing his younger and older self. This makes us aware of how we are constantly changing and we need to understand the parts of ourselves we may not feel are accessible. The world talks to Kaye throughout the book, and he is our guide to navigate all this change, and he does so effortlessly. He talks us through growing up and reminds us we aren’t alone.

Kaye plays with form and writes a lot of prose poems, which add to the feeling of closeness. His prose poems often speak directly to the reader, allowing us to have his inside look at the world. That level of intimacy is unmatched as the jagged pieces of Kaye’s life intertwine with the edges of ours. He often hits us directly at the end of his poems, leaving us on a kicker that sends us spiraling into the next piece. Poems like “Succulent” wait to punch the reader in the gut until the very last line, with his distinct voice piercing through us to get at the heart of his message. 

Kaye’s metaphors and euphemisms are also pivotal parts to his poetry that make him so unique. He has an observant and detailed view of the world that he is able to translate onto the page unlike other contemporary poets. He is eager to grow and share his knowledge of the world with the reader, not as advice but as a story we can come together and listen to. His mastery of storytelling is present on every page.

Listening to Kaye read his poetry aloud is a special delight that one must take advantage of. His soothing, commanding voice makes him a poet and a performer. He brings forward all those feelings on the page into his voice and makes the poems come to life. His spoken word can be found on Button Poetry on YouTube.

This book is a must-read for any poetry lover or anyone who needs the reminder that they aren’t alone. We can all make it through this thing called life, together.