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Coleman Barks

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Coleman Barks

American poetry

Coleman Barks colemanbarks960jpg

Coleman Bryan Barks April 23, 1937 (age 87) Chattanooga, Tennessee, (

Notable works
Gourd Seed, The Essential Rumi

Kittsu Greenwood (1962 - divorced)

Rumi: What Was Said to the Rose

Cole Barks, Benjamin Barks

Similar People
Rumi, Robert Bly, Shams Tabrizi, Philip Glass, Daniel Ladinsky

Opening the heart through ecstatic poetry coleman barks at tedxuga

Coleman Barks (born April 23, 1937) is an American poet, and former literature faculty at the University of Georgia. Although he neither speaks nor reads Persian, he is a popular interpreter of Rumi, rewriting the poems based on other English translations.


Coleman Barks wwwazquotescompublicpicturesauthors51b751b

Coleman barks reads poetry of rumi out beyond ideas of wrong doing and right doing there is a field

Early life and background

Coleman Barks Mythic Imagination Institute

Barks is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee. He attended the Baylor School as a teenager, then studied collegiately at the University of North Carolina and the University of California, Berkeley.


Coleman Barks Coleman Barks Poetry Everywhere PBS

Barks taught literature at the University of Georgia for three decades.

Barks makes frequent international appearances and is well known throughout the Middle East. Barks' work has contributed to an extremely strong following of Rumi in the English-speaking world. Due to his work, the ideas of Sufism have crossed many cultural boundaries over the past few decades. Coleman Barks received an honorary doctorate from Tehran University in 2006.

Coleman Barks Poet Coleman Barks taps into mystic Jalal adDin Rumi Georgia

He has also read his original poetry at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival. In March 2009 Barks was inducted to the Georgia Writers' Hall of Fame.

Personal life

Coleman Barks Questions of Faith Coleman Barks Poetry Society of America

He currently lives in Athens, Georgia, where he interprets the writings of Rumi and composes poetry of his own. In early 2011, Barks suffered a stroke that has somewhat impaired his speech and has resulted in at least one cancelled appearance.

Rumi translations


Barks has published several volumes of his interpretations of Rumi's poetry since 1976, including The Hand of Poetry, Five Mystic Poets of Persia in 1993, The Essential Rumi in 1995 and The Book of Love in 2003.


Coleman Barks Coleman Barks Wikipedia

Barks does not speak or read Persian; his 'translations' are therefore technically paraphrases. Barks bases his paraphrases entirely on other English translations of Rumi which include renderings by John Moyne and Reynold A. Nicholson. In addition, while the original Persian poetry of Rumi is heavily rhymed and metered, Barks has used primarily free verse. In some instances, he will also skip or mix lines and metaphors from different poems into one 'translation'.

Coleman Barks Poems of Rumi tr by Coleman Barks The Threshold Society

For example, here is a very literal rendering by Reynold A. Nicholson,

"On the Day of Resurrection every hidden thing will be made manifest: every sinner will be ignominiously exposed by himself.
His hands and feet will give evidence and declare his iniquity in the presence of Him whose help is sought.
His hand will say, 'I have stolen such and such'; his lip will say, 'I have asked such and such questions';
His foot will say. 'I have gone to (enjoy) things desired'; his pudendum will say, 'I have committed fornication.'
His eye will say, 'I have cast amorous glances at things forbidden'; his ear will say, 'I have gathered evil words.'
Therefore he is a lie from head to foot, for even his own members give him the lie,
Just as, in (the case of) the specious prayers (performed by the ascetic), their fine appearance was proved to be false testimonio testiculi.
Act, then, in such wise that the action itself, without (your) tongue (uttering a word), will be (equivalent to) saying 'I testify' and (to making) the most explicit declaration,
So that your whole body, limb by limb, O son, will have said 'I testify' as regards both good and ill.
The slave's walking behind his master is a testimony (equivalent to saying), 'I am subject to authority and this man is my lord.'"

And Barks' version of the same passage,

"On Resurrection Day your body testifies against you.
Your hand says, 'I stole money.'
Your lips, 'I said meanness.'
Your feet, 'I went where I shouldn't.'
Your genitals, 'Me Too.'

They will make your praying sound hypocritical
Let the body's doings speak openly now,
without your saying a word,
as a student's walking behind a teacher
says, "This one knows more clearly
than I the way."

Barks' translations have been criticised by many Persian scholars. Majid Naficy writes that Coleman Barks reduces Rumi's poetry to a New Age text:

Original poetry

Barks has published several volumes of his own poetry, including Gourd Seed, "Quickly Aging Here", Tentmaking, and, in 2001, Granddaughter Poems, a collection of Coleman's poetry about his granddaughter, Briny Barks, with illustrations by Briny. Harper published his first book of poetry, The Juice, in 1972.


  • Barks, Coleman. Marcus Wise, David Whetstone, Robert Bly (October 1, 2001). Rumi: Voice of Longing (audio). Sounds True Incorporated; Unabridged edition. ISBN 1-56455-832-0. Archived from the original (CD) on 2016-03-06. 
  • Barks, Coleman. Barry Phillips. Shelley Phillips (2003). What Was Said to the Rose (CD). Maypop Books. 
  • Barks, Coleman. Barry Phillips. Shelley Phillips (April 10, 2006). Five Things to Say (CD) (audio). Maypop Books. ASIN B000G8P56U. 666449456022. 
  • Barks, Coleman (April 1, 2001). I want Burning (CD) (audio). Sounds True Incorporated; Unabridged edition. ISBN 1-56455-830-4. 
  • Barks, Coleman (January 2005). Rumi (CD) (audio). Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. ISBN 0-660-19370-1. 
  • Barks, Coleman. Robert Bly (July 1989). Poems of Rumi (CD) (audio). Audio Literature. ISBN 0-944993-10-9. 
  • Barks, Coleman. Hamza Ele Din, Steve Coughlin (April 1991). Like This: More Poems of Rumi (CD) (audio). Audio Literature. ISBN 0-944993-14-1. 
  • Barks, Coleman. (January 1997). Dust Particles in Sunlight: Poems of Rumi (CD) (audio). Omega Publications. ISBN 0-930872-60-6. 
  • Barks, Coleman. (February 1997). The Hand of Poetry 4 Audio Cassette set (CD) (audio). Omega Publications. ISBN 0-930872-57-6. 
  • Barks, Coleman. Dorothy Fadiman (1993). Selections From Open Secret (Poems of the 13th Century Sufi Master Rumi) (CD) (audio). Coleman and Dorothy. ASIN B000RZX7Q2. 
  • Barks, Coleman. Mary Sinclair, Lory Messina (January 1997). The Woman Who Dressed As a Man: Poems of Attar (CD) (audio). Omega Publications. ISBN 0-930872-59-2. 
  • Quotes

    Iran is my first home-land. (2006)

    The only credential I have for working on Rumi's poetry is my meeting with [my Sufi teacher], Bawa Muhaiyaddeen. That relationship is the only access I have to what is going on in Rumi's poetry.


    Coleman Barks Wikipedia

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