As the foremost translator of thirteenth-century mystic poet Jalal Al-Din Rumi, Coleman Barks reaches a devoted, inspired, and ever-widening international audience. Yet the foundation for Barks's work as a translator is his own significant body of work as a poet. Winter Sky offers a selection from Barks's seven previously published books combined with a group of new poems.
Barks's open-hearted, free verse poetry is infused with a joy of the spirit at play with the forms of the world. His journey through life is deeply embedded in his work. The poems spring directly from experience and engage with subjects such as the elation and struggle of having and raising children, grief over the deaths of loved ones, the transition from parent to grandparent, or the changing nature and intensity of desire. Barks's open letter to President Bush, written days before the invasion of Iraq and widely circulated online, is a poetic plea for peace, offering a startling and moving alternative to war.
Whether it is the childhood excitement of being named best athlete at summer camp or the early signs of dementia at the age of seventy, Barks uses the personal to convey the universal. The unique flow of a life is here in poems that are rueful, confused, torn, and grateful, but always informed by Barks's transcendent sense of joy and playfulness.
Coleman Barks is the bestselling translator of "The Essential Rumi," "The Soul of Rumi," and "Rumi: The Book of Love." He taught creative writing and American poetry in the English Department at the University of Georgia for thirty years and currently lives in Athens, Georgia.