Reaching Forever is Philip C. Kolin’s ninth collection of poems, the sixth to focus entirely on spiritual poetry. Like the poet’s most recent book, Benedict's Daughter: Poems (2017), the poems in this new collection are anchored in Scripture.
Organized according to major Christian topics—sheep, water, God's names, eschatology—Reaching Forever is ripe with scriptural parables, symbols and imagery, settings, allusions, and speakers ranging from God to biblical characters to contemporary figures. Consistent with the Poiema Series, these poems open the “windows” of faith. But they are not simple catechesis. Rather, they “leap over the sills,” to quote D. S. Martin, providing new ways of looking at Holy Writ and applying them to today's world—to see the sacred in the daily.
Undeniably the most distinctive feature of Reaching Forever is the large number of poems set in the contemporary world, but contextualized through the Bible. For instance, a poem on the polyandrous Samaritan woman is paired with one about a homeless woman in a large city who also has had many husbands and children. A long litany poem about God's appearances in Scripture is followed by one on catadores (garbage pickers) who hear rumbling below the filth and wonder what God’s voice is saying. A short poem on the riches of Cana seques to a spiritual lyric about monks who transform donors’ pennies into bread for the poor.
Philip C. Kolin is the university distinguished professor of English (emeritus) at the University of Southern Mississippi, where he is also the editor emeritus of Southern Quarterly (2011-2017). He has published more than forty books, including several collections of poetry, most recently Emmett Till in Different States: Poems (2015) and Benedict's Daughter (Wipf & Stock, 2017).