How does a body of poetry written in a remote part of the world find its way to best seller lists published in leading newspapers in the U.S. over 700 years later? What is the compelling quality inherent in great literature that resonates throughout the ages? Coleman Barks, poet and translator of Jelalludin Rumi's poetry, explores the genius, mystery and rapture of Rumi's work; why he has become the most-read poet in America, and what his poetry has in common with the immortal writings of Dickinson, Emerson and Thoreau. "His poetry reflects the transcendent longing that we all feel," says Barks. "Rumi speaks to the times. He sees the divine in grace and kindness, and also in the terrible things, revealing to us the ecstasy that resides at the deepest core of all experience, and the way out of sorrow." Coleman Barks taught poetry at the University of Georgia for many years, and is translator of
The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems (HarperSanFrancisco 2001);
The Illuminated Prayer: The Five-Times Prayer of the Sufis (Ballantine Wellspring 2000); co-translator of
The Essential Rumi (HarperSanFrancisco 1997) and co-translator (with John Moyne) of two volumes of Rumi poems,
Unseen Rain (Threshold Books 1986) and
Open Secret (Threshold Books 1984).
Topics explored in this dialogue include: how the story of Rumi and his poetry can have a powerful influence on your life, the stunning story of sculptor Michael Richards and his 9/11 prophetic work of art, how the soul makes art that can tell us of things to come, how you can balance the paradox of ecstatic grief, how Rumi's relationship with his teacher, Shams of Tabriz, inspired his poetry.