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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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Via today's issue of the Nondual Highlights, the following excerpt comes from the notes of American poet and translator Coleman Barks (website | full article text) during a State-sponsored trip to Afghanistan. Barks was surprised by how warmly he was received and by the interest generated by his translations of Rumi's poetry. Apparently Afghans are highly enamoured with poetry in general and they found were fascinated that a translation of Rumi's poetry into English could be so popular in the West.
This discovery, of course, is part of a blindness I have, that we have in this country, and in the West in general, to things Islamic. It is a long-standing and pervasive condition. Wherever possible I confessed our ignorance, my personal variety, and our general American species. And yet, it must be stressed, there I was, and for a reason. Their Afghan poet has been the most-read poet in the United States during the last ten years! My translations alone have sold over half a million copies. These facts astonished audiences, who inevitably asked why. No one knows, I said, but it feels like to me that a presence comes through the poetry, even in my American versions, the sense of an enlightened, compassionate, hilarious, very clear and sane, and deeply kind, human being. We have been lonely, I told them, in the United States, for what the Sufis call a true human being. In Rumi and his friend Shams Tabriz we have found two of them.

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wildgarden October 5th, 2005
That is a lovely story. Thanks.

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