Retooling with Rumi

Rumi_Wikipedia
Rumi, courtesy en.Wikipedia.org

After a series of personal challenges in the past six months (fire, three moves, close deaths, and associated challenges), I’m baaaaack . . . . Now that I’ve dusted off, it’s back to teaching, pulling out the poetry manuscripts, mixing things up (big-time), greasing wheels, feeding my inner nerd, hoping I remember how to see upside-down through my legs like a kid, or, as Fitzgerald famously said, breathing underwater.

I’ve been reading poets new and ancient, the most ancient of whom is Rumi. From eight centuries back, he speaks more clearly through translators like Coleman Barks than most, regardless of their epoch or their age, as in these lines from “Who Says Words with My Mouth?”: “Who looks out with my eyes? What is my soul? / I cannot stop asking” (Selected Poems by Rumi, trans. Coleman Barks [New York: HarperCollins, 1995]). On September 11th this year, at an interfaith community commemoration at Hudson River Music Hall featuring preachers, poets like Paul Pines, and musicians including Duke Ellington‘s granddaughter Mercedes Ellington, I had the privilege and joy of reading Rumi. Preparing for that event, I immersed myself in Rumi’s ecstatic love and wisdom, a tasty tonic for the soul.

If you had told me two decades ago that very soon our culture would broadly celebrate a thirteenth century Persian ecstatic mystic poet, I wouldn’t even have believed you. Rumi’s appeal transcends his faith tradition, eschews false piety, embraces all humanity. You just have to sip his work to get it.

So, if you’re here, if you read or write poetry, what revives your soul? For whose poems do you head when your head is down? Scroll down a little and post a comment, please.

Author: Kathleen McCoy

I'm a poet, a professor, a mother, a wife, a bit of an activist, a lover of the word at https://kathleenmccoy.wordpress.com. Poetry books include Ringing the Changes (Finishing Line Press, 2019), Green and Burning, Glas Agus a Dho (Word Tech, 2016) and More Water Than Words (chapbook, Finishing Line Press, 2017). Books are available from the publishers or Amazon, or order from your local bookseller.

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