Coleman Barks taught poetry and creative writing at the University of Georgia for 30 years. His life changed directions in 1976 when his colleague Robert Bly handed him an accurate but stilted nineteenth-century translation of the work of mystic Islamic poet Jelaluddin Rumi and said, “Release these from their scholarly cages.” Huston Smith, author of The World’s Religions, said, “If Rumi is the most-read poet in America today, Coleman Barks is in good part responsible. His ear for the truly divine madness in Rumi’s poetry is truly remarkable.”
Barks is the author of numerous Rumi translations and has been a student of Sufism since 1977. His work with Rumi was the subject of an hour-long segment in Bill Moyers’s The Language of Life series on PBS, and he was a featured poet and translator in Moyers’s poetry special Fooling with Words. Photo of Coleman by John Zeuli. For more information, please visit his website.