Taking its title from a phrase in a pop-up ad, Inspecting Nostalgia is R. Kolewe’s second collection of poetry that brings together found text and fragments of various writers’ work with scraps from his own journals.
Kolewe’s concerns with “nostalgia,” derived from the Greek “nostos” (return) and “algos” (pain), forge poems that are charged with an intense yearning for that which has been lost. Heartbreak is tempered with Jacques Derrida’s essay on Immanuel Kant to create almost-sonnets and many tercets, and marginal notes brim with desire and memory to test the limits of the age-old matter of the lyric poem.
These poems have their multiplicity fixed on a certain trait that makes us human: an attachment to the past. By piecing together texts from disparate sources, they capture the kaleidoscopic influence of other voices without incongruity or disorientation. Kolewe perches on the threshold of the lyric and conceptual to allow the melody and jangle of influence to rest within us as we read, only to leave us changed and wanting as we try to catch up to the rhythm of the present.
Inspecting Nostalgia has all the lucent warmth and sting of heartbreak – roses, stars, and decay abound – subdued by a compositional technique that pilfers and forages the analytical and prosaic to create a cohesive
work that is often elegiac and always evocative.