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.
About the author
R. Kolewe was born in Montreal. Educated in physics and engineering at the University of Toronto, he pursued a successful career in the software industry for many years, while living in a picturesque village in southwestern Ontario. Always a reader, he began to devote his time to writing not long after returning to Toronto in 2007. His work has appeared online at ditch, e-ratio, and The Puritan, and he has been associated with the online magazine of Canadian poetics, influencysalon.ca. He also takes photographs. Find Kolewe's work online at http://r.kolewe.net, http://hudsonpoems.net or follow him on Twitter @rkolewe.
“‘Could such beauty go unremarked?’ the book first wonders. Sensitive and meditative, the poems attend precisely to that which often goes unnoticed: the vulnerable, the intimate, the quiet. R. Kolewe rummages texts, memories, the discarded, the leftover, reminding that we must keep paying attention to the particular – ‘the real word scar’ – that we must keep examining the past in order to understand the present.”
“A complicated nostalgia, ‘want being what isn’t now,’ or maybe wasn’t then, animates the fragmented lyrics of R. Kolewe’s Inspecting Nostalgia. The past loops uncertain; if becomes again, times another version. As Kolewe inspects interstices of knowing, imagining, and forgeting, shards of memory glint in the gaps: ‘Sunshine on cedar. Stairs. Books. Almost noon.’ Precise and ruminative, Inspecting Nostalgiaturns yearning to wonder.”
“With wild precision, Kolewe traces the dissolving rhythm of ephemerality to write of the ghostly past whose vanishing persists into the present – ‘No need to look back to lose you.’ Inspecting Nostalgia inhabits the intersecting temporalities that accrue within and around a life – those jostling times of the body, of memory, of history, of the stars – to create poems that startlingly discern the mind’s intricate, minimally perceptible movements as it falls into and out of time.”
“These poems are akin to an interior portraiture of still-lives. Kolewe enacts a curious, seemingly imperceptible talent for rendering nostalgia party to a mode of true grace, not the flatly sentimental, but instead this work invokes the cool gravity of viewing one’s self-but-not seated alone in a quiet room, seemingly suspended forever in a discrete moment of space-time. ‘Careless desolation simply. / I should turn back to tell it right / repeating and not repeating astonishment.’ Inspecting Nostalgia offers us both the terrible beauty and delicate suffering of the material/immaterial’s double bind all the while deftly echoing that longing for that impossible, par excellence: you.”