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Acclaimed Rumi translator Coleman Barks to give lecture at APSU

One of the most popular poets in America, it turns out, died some 800 years ago. But that isn't stopping thousands of readers from purchasing works by the 13th century Persian poet Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi, known simply as Rumi.

His mystical poems celebrate love and spirituality, but a major reason for their popularity in recent years is due to poet Coleman Barks' lyrical, English translations of the works. Barks, a Chattanooga native, has sold more than half a million copies worldwide of his numerous Rumi translations.

At 1:30 p.m. on March 4, the APSU Department of Languages and Literature and the APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts will present a lecture by Barks for the 2010 Asanbe Diversity Symposium. The lecture, “The Mystery of Friendship: Rumi and Shams,” will be in the Music/Mass Communication Concert Hall, with a book signing to follow.

Later that afternoon, from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., Barks will join APSU professors Blas Falconer and Bert Randall and APSU Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts director and poet Chris Burawa for a panel discussion, “Why Read Rumi?” in the Wilbur N. Daniel African American Cultural Center.

Barks has taught poetry and creative writing at the University of Georgia for 30 years. His work with Rumi was featured in an hourlong segment in Bill Moyers' “Language of Life” series on PBS.

For more information on the lecture and the panel discussion, contact the APSU Center of Excellence at 931-221-7876. -- Charles Booth