Art And Culture

Rumi Best-Selling Poet in US

Rumi Best-Selling Poet in USRumi Best-Selling Poet in US

A poetry book ‘The Essential Rumi Translations,’ translated by Coleman Barks, has become the top-selling title in the US.  

The ecstatic poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, acclaimed Persian poet and Sufi master born 808 years ago in 1207, have sold millions of copies for the second consecutive year, making him the most popular poet in the US, Honaronline reported.

“Rumi is a compelling figure in all cultures,” says Brad Gooch, 63, American literature scholar and university professor, who is writing a biography of the poet. The transformative moment in Rumi’s life came in 1244, when he met a wandering mystic known as Shams of Tabriz.

Rumi was 37, a traditional Muslim preacher and scholar, as his father and grandfather had been. “The two have this electric friendship for three years. Rumi became a mystic and then after three years Shams disappeared.”

Most of the poetry was written by Rumi between age 37 and 67. “He wrote 3,000 songs of his love for Shams, the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and God. He wrote 2,000 four-line quatrains and a six-volume spiritual epic, ‘The Masnavi’.”  

During these years, Rumi incorporated poetry, music and dance into religious practice. “Rumi would whirl while he was meditating and while composing poetry, which he dictated,” said Gooch. “That was codified after his death into elegant meditative dance.”

Or, as Rumi wrote, in Ghazal 2,351: “I used to recite prayers. Now I recite rhymes and poems and songs.”

Different translations of Rumi’s poetries by authors Coleman Barks, Reynold Nicholson, E. H. Whinfield and A. J. Arberry have long been printed and sold in the US, among which the commendable 22-volume translation of Barks that took him 33 years to complete have been significantly highlighted. The 1990 transcript has always been at the top of the book selling list, overtaking celebrated ancient British poets like William Shakespeare and William Blake.

As new translations come into print, and his work continues to resonate, Rumi’s influence will continue. His inspiring words remind people how poetry can be a sustaining part of everyday life, Gooch said.