Reaching Forever

Poems

By Philip C. Kolin

Foreword by Paul Mariani

Reaching Forever

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  • ISBN: 9781532659935
  • Pages: 124
  • Publication Date: 2/1/2019
  • Retail Price: $17.00
Web Price: $13.60
BUY FROM AMAZON.COM
Web Price: $13.60

Reaching Forever

Poems

By Philip C. Kolin

Foreword by Paul Mariani

paperback-logo

PAPERBACK

  • ISBN: 9781532659935
  • Pages: 124
  • Publication Date: 2/1/2019
  • Retail Price: $17.00
Web Price: $13.60
BUY FROM AMAZON.COM

About-

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.

Endorsements & Reviews-

“From Reaching Forever’s wide-ranging collection of lyrics, midrash, and narratives—characters from the street, from the Bible, from nature—I choose to begin with Philip C. Kolin’s figure of water, for I have long been a disciple of water’s spiritual lessons. But his River and Gulf are wonderfully strange to me, transformed into keepers of sacred mysteries. The opening poem, ‘Baptism,’ declares that the artist’s ‘canvas/must be submerged/to be seen,’ a paradox affirming the Creator’s vision over what is ‘real’ in the human world. Later a powerful chiasm closes ‘River Burial’: ‘But submerged sins keep coming back to shore;/the river returns the remains of the dead each night.’ What is not of God and what has not been in right relation with God will not enjoy God’s paradoxical gnosis. I am haunted by the word ‘submerged,’ the ‘dipping under’ that represents hiddenness and revelation at once.

If, as in ‘Let Their Be Land,’ the tombstones cannot be read ‘because no one can find them,’ how will we gain initiation into these mysteries? A gorgeous passage from ‘Soft Sifting,’ late in the collection, portends:

Our passing was meant to be

a soft sifting like an ark with holes

returning us to earth after

each seeping rain.

And in ‘When God Arrives,’ we are told, ‘you realize you do not/have to wear/your body anymore.’

From its mysterious, paradoxical title to its unifying voice, Reaching Forever is a moving, expansive meditation on the ‘already’ as also the ‘not yet.’”

—Martha Serpas, author of The Diener



“Even while writing within the tradition of the twentieth-century's Christ-haunted literature of the southern United States, Philip C. Kolin gives us poems that help us hear ‘God's voices’ in the twenty-first century. Flannery O'Connor's readers needed to be reminded that even escaped convicts could be instruments of grace. Our Age needs to be reminded that priests can be as well. Benedictine ‘monks are God's bakers of grace’ delivering loaves of bread to ‘halfway/houses, shelters, nursing homes, jails.’ Fr. Derivaux ministered to the imprisoned in Parchman Penitentiary, who wear ‘striped habits / to sigh the name of Jesus.’ A retired pastor from New Orleans' Church of the Holy Spirit ‘looks the way/I think God would want to look’ during the funeral of a friend. Yet Kolin is not sentimental in the least in his apocalyptic hopefulness. This volume is peppered like ‘dark-roux gumbo’ with wolves, scarecrows, serpent tattoos, black boys in the Ohio River, making us even more in awe of Kolin's faith that we could Reach, in the sense of ‘arrive at,’ Forever. Reading these poems is a spiritual experience. Their intonations resonate long after putting the book down.”

—Mary Ann B. Miller, founding editor of Presence: A Journal of Catholic Poetry



“Each time Philip Kolin delivers a new book of poetry, I declare that volume my favorite—and now there’s Reaching Forever. The title itself describes the art and valence of Kolin’s verse, and perhaps his ultimate quest. He’ll never stop reaching until he reaches forever, a destination arrived at exclusively by traveling the glorious and harrowing path of language. Over the years Kolin has established himself as a wholly liturgical poet. His ear is exquisite: sonic bursts of vibrato and a mendicant hush. I hear the numen in his syllables. What’s more, Reaching Forever immerses us in water. The reader is cleansed, christened and reminded that there abides a ‘dark river/we all must one day cross,’ that ultimately ‘you do not/have to wear/your body anymore.’ Reaching Forever is a beautifully sacramental addition to Philip Kolin’s considerable oeuvre.”

—Joseph Bathanti, North Carolina Poet Laureate (2012-2014), author of The 13th Sunday after Pentecost



“As a writer I believe in the power of words. As a priest and preacher, I believe in the power of stories—narratives of suffering, self-transcendence, and hope that move the mind and heart. Reading this collection of Philip Kolin’s sublime verse, I felt I was on holy ground. I am more convinced than ever of the poet’s high calling to articulate what is most true and enduring in our shared human experience. Kolin weaves together events and people as well as Scriptural figures and archetypal themes in a stirring affirmation of the sacred that lies beneath all of life. Words as carefully chosen and crafted as his are to be savored and appreciated.”

—Anthony Schueller, SSS, Editor, Emmanuel



“In Reaching Forever, Philip Kolin has written an epistle of river water and light, of ‘rocks sprouted so we would/remember ourselves // in the eruption of space and time.’ His words, like ‘The Fugitive River’ about which he writes, twist ‘through dreams, sending swinging/scarecrows back to daylight with notes written/round their necks in tombstone letters.’ His is a generous vision of the sacred amidst ‘hillocks’ and ‘knolls’ and ‘brown stubble beards/in November’s drizzle.’ He delves into the roots of his faith through meticulous attention to the natural world and by exploring—sometimes recasting—the religious narratives that comprise touchstones of his everyday life. With startling precision, Kolin delicately blends moments of emotional exile with the compassion of deep communion and connectedness. Each poem is a tender genuflection to the godliness of the breaths we breathe into and through one another. In ‘Trees of Late Autumn,’ he gives us a vision of wholeness, saying, ‘But whether they/blossom and bloom,/or stand mute in the cadaver cold, // . . . It’s all sacred forestry.”

—George Kalamaras, Poet Laureate of Indiana (2014-2016)



“Kolin dresses the most mundane of events and sightings in the garments of color and texture that bring his poems home in the mind’s eye. He outlines the edges of things as they expand and divide, finding in the Bible’s characters examples of the shine and shadow that inhabit every age.”

—Luci Shaw, author, Eye of the Beholder; Thumbprint in the Clay

Contributors-

Philip C. Kolin
Paul Mariani

Bio(s)-

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).

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