Jelaluddin Rumi was born in the Eastern part of the Ancient Persian Empire near Balkh (presently Afghanistan) in 1207. His first name literally means "Majesty of Religion." Because of the threat of Mongol invasion in Persia his family fled, finally settling in Konya, Turkey. He passed away, on December 17, 1273. His shrine is in Konya.
Following in his father's footsteps, Rumi became a scholar. Rumi underwent a spiritual transformation in 1244 after meeting the wandering dervish, Shams al-Din. With appearance of Shams, Rumi became reborn and soon started one of his renowned works, MATHNAWI, consisting of 24,000 verses at age 38. Rumi's poetry has a mystic connotation, a combination that is the universal language of the human soul.
Rumi's poetry has been translated into many languages, his work is well known throughout the world. Rumi was the founder of the Mevlevi Dervish Order, also known as the whirling dervishes.
Read an extensive biography of Rumi at Art Arena.
The Connection, a nationally syndicated radio program from WBUR Boston and NPR, featured Rumi's works in an interview with translator and poet Coleman Barks.
In 1976, Coleman Barks began translating the poems of Jelaluddin Rumi, a thirteenth-century Sufi mystic, a poet as famous in the Islamic world as Shakespeare is in the West. He has since become the primary translator bringing Rumi's poems into contemporary English, publishing sixteen volumes of Rumi's poetry, including THE GLANCE: SONGS OF SOUL-MEETING (1999) and THE ESSENTIAL RUMI (1995) and his most recent volume, RUMI: THE BOOK OF LOVE (2003).
A poet in his own right, a publisher, and teacher of contemporary American poetry, he taught for thirty-four years at the University of Georgia, Athens, where he was named Poet and Professor Emeritus of English. He has collaborated in performances with musicians, including members of the Paul Winter Consort. His work was featured in several PBS series with Bill Moyers, THE LANGUAGE OF LIFE, THE SOUNDS OF POETRY, and FOOLING WITH WORDS. Born in Tennessee in 1937, Coleman Barks lives in Athens, Georgia.
In "Talking Shop with Coleman Barks", Coleman Barks talks to YOGA JOURNAL about how translating the Sufi poet's work keeps him connected to his higher calling.