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.
Subjects: Language & Literature
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