The Rumi Concert was performed for the first time in Australia, and recorded live, at St Michael’s Uniting Church, 120 Collins Street, Melbourne on August 31, 2007. The Rumi Concert was presented by The Interfaith Centre of Melbourne and The Age Melbourne Writers’ Festival.
Coleman Barks read his inspired translations of Rumi’s poems with musical accompaniment by cellist Helen Mountfort and percussionist Matt Stonehouse. International storydancer and teacher, Zuleikha, transported the audience with her Sufi story and song, mime and dance. (www.storydancer.com) Coleman Barks also read some of his own poetry.
The CD recording has excerpts from The Rumi Concert.
All of Rumi’s poetry is included, plus one of Dr Bark’s own poems.
This year marks the 800th anniversary of Rumi’s birth and has been declared by UNESCO as The International Year of Mevlana (Rumi). The Rumi Concert is a glorious celebration of this mystic’s legacy to people of the world’s diverse religions and spiritualities.
Rumi (1207-1273) was a teacher, mystic, founder of what we know as Whirling Dervishes, and a poet of lyrical spiritual power. Born in Afghanistan, Rumi and his family became refugees and settled in Konya, Turkey. In 1244 he met the powerful spiritual seeker, Shams of Tabriz. Through his association with Shams, Rumi found a deeper level within himself, which he called the Friend or the Beloved. Rumi created 20,000 poems as oral extemporizations that were recorded by his students. Many of his verses are fervent love poems, although the eroticism is a metaphor of the soul’s longing for God’s love.
“His poetry reflects the transcendent longing we all feel. 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 experience, and the way out of sorrow.” Coleman Barks
For thirty years, poet Coleman Barks has been collaborating with various Persian scholars to bring the poetry of Rumi and other mystic poets to the American public. He began translating Rumi’s poetry in fluid free verse after the poet Robert Bly handed him some stilted translations by Cambridge Islamist A.J.Arberry saying: “These poems need to be released from their cages.” Dr Barks taught poetry and creative writing in various universities for thirty-four years. He has published seven volumes of his own poetry. Dr Barks is now retired professor Emeritus of English from the University of Georgia in Athens,
He received the Juliet Hollister Award (2004) for his work in the interfaith area. In March 2005 the U.S. State Department sent him to Afghanistan as the first visiting speaker in twenty-five years. In May of 2006 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Tehran.
The Rumi translations have sold over three-quarters of a million copies worldwide and have touched the hearts of people from all walks of life. Website: www.colemanbarks.com