Press Release: Rumi

Selected Poems

Rumi (Jallād-Dīn Muhammad Balkhī)

Translated by Coleman Barks
Introduced by Michael Schmidt
Illustrated by Marian Bantjes

‘Speaks to the hearts of hundreds of thousands of people and builds bridges of understanding between the Muslim world and the West’

Rumi is celebrated across the Islamic world as a visionary thinker, his verses revered as masterpieces of Persian literature. Nearly 750 years after Rumi’s death, Coleman Barks’s vibrant translations have also achieved the unlikely feat of making him the best-selling poet in the USA.

Shortly after his birth in present-day Afghanistan in 1207, Rumi’s family were forced to flee Mongol invaders, eventually settling in Konya, in modern-day Turkey. It was there in 1244 that he encountered the eccentric Sufi dervish, Shams of Tabriz. Their intense spiritual friendship was shattered by Shams’s sudden departure a devastating loss which changed the course of Rumi’s life. Over the next 30 years, he produced prodigious outpourings of verse and prose, addressing readers with rare directness – by turns confrontational and playful, lyrical and abrupt, and his range is extraordinary. With his inclusive vision of the world and his tolerance, wisdom and humour, this 13th-century mystic continues to speak to 21st-century readers with startling immediacy.

Coleman Barks first encountered Rumi’s poems in 1976, when a fellow author showed him academic translations with the suggestion that ‘these poems need to be released from their cages’. Barks responded by producing what he calls ‘playful palimpsests’ – epigrammatic free-verse translations that allow Rumi’s distinctive voice to bridge vast gaps of culture, geography, language and time. Barks’s ‘Selected Poems’ capture Rumi’s spirit without imprisoning it.

This beautiful edition features a spectacular binding designed by Marian Bantjes. Her intricate Islamic-inspired geometric patterns also frame every page of text, evoking the music and whirling dances associated with Rumi’s poems, and encouraging us to lose ourselves in his words.


Product information
Bound in cloth blocked with a design by the artist. Set in Arno Pro. 376 pages. Printed with metallic blue and rose gold patterns throughout. Ribbon marker. Plain slipcase. 8¾” x 7¾”
•UK £39.95 US $59.95 Can $81.95 Aus $79.95



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