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2005 Book Reviews by Robert L. Seltman

Recent Translations of Rumi
"The most widely read poet in America today."

Rumi Video
Rumi: Poet of the Heart
by Haydn Reiss

This one hour program presents Coleman Barks, a contemporary translator of Rumi's poetry, in live performance and intimate conversation. Joining Coleman to celebrate the spiritual passion of Rumi's poetry are Robert Bly, Deepak Chopra, Michael Meade, Huston Smith and others


I was inspired to again read Rumi by this delightful documentary Poet of the Heart included in the monthly distributed film collection of the Spiritual Cinema Circle.


The Essential Rumi
Translations by Coleman Barks


HUSH Don't Say Anything to God, Passionate Poems of Rumi
by Shahram Shiva


Rumi We Are Three
New Rumi Translations by Coleman Barks


Rumi Thief of Sleep
Translations by Shahram Shiva


RUMI the book of LOVE
Translation and Commentary by Coleman Barks
Cover Photo
Title, Translator, and brief description.
A concise review of this work by RL Seltman.

The Essential Rumi
Translations by Coleman Barks
"Barks's introductions to each of the 27 sections (described as "playful palimpsests spread over Rumi's imagination," and "meant to confuse scholars who would divide Rumi's poetry into the accepted categories") are themselves wonderful achievements of a poetic imagination; searching explanations of unfamiliar concepts and funny stories provide colorful background and frame the selections as no dry historical exegesis could. " - Editor
Five Whirling Dervish - top rating
This is an expansion of his 1995 version and represents one of the most comprehensive contemporary introductions to the work of Rumi in American English now available. Ideally you will be born in an earthen home to Persian parents and so will not need to rely on Rumi in translation, but for the rest of us, this is a fine window in. Bark's relationship to this text is mystical, yet his footing appears solidly within the classical values of translation. I find the dance between his translations and his commentary refreshing, seldom interfering with the original inspiration. You will need a long time to digest this text, but you will find there is more than enough here for a thorough feel of Rumi's genius.

HUSH Don't Say Anything to God, Passionate Poems of Rumi
by Shahram Shiva
"...These verses are not just meant for the libraries or the classrooms of academia. They are meant to be recited by human lovers and lovers of God. The passion of Rumi expressed in this book by Shahram Shiva will restore the exultation of spirit in your Being. This passion is holy and it will heal you..." Deepak Chopra
Four Whirling Dervish
It is a comparison of apples and oranges, Shiva and Barks. Barks would be the apple, Yankee intellectual with a compassionate wisdom of practicality 'an apple a day' healer. Shiva is a sexy tropical fruit refreshingly simple, breakfast food for a sunny morning before a day of swirling. This is a book you can bring to a friend temporarily out of sorts, or to a teenager looking for a playful insight to Islamic mysticism. Its slightly corny feel is part of its charm. I want to go to bed with this book with someone else, and read to them, and then get up giggling, as we test drive his Four-Step Method to Whirling. This book is fun.

Rumi We Are Three
New Rumi Translations by Coleman Barks
"...has some of his most captivating poems (including most of my personal favorites), is very affordable and is high quality for a paperback. Rumi afficionados will like this book because it has a few poems I've not found published elsewhere. Rumi's symbolism is deep but this book is more accessible for beginners than others I've found, as the translation is lovely. A great value for the money since it contains many poems in a slim volume---makes a terrific and inexpensive gift." - Stacia Roesler
Three Whirling Dervish
This is a gift for someone who already has The Essential Rumi and who needs a book for the airport or for a weekend alone. The translations are beautiful and deeply felt, the layout is handsome and respectful, a subtle blending of reverence with a contemporary sense of style. If someone had given me this book, I would have been deeply moved. There is an air of elegant maturity, as if to say, we are involved in a deep spiritual relationship and I just wanted you to know I see that side of you. Take this book and think of me.

Rumi Thief of Sleep
Translations by Shahram Shiva

This book contains 180 translations of Rumi's short devotional poems, or quatrains. Shiva's versions are his own translation from the Farsi (Persian), the language in which Rumi wrote. This volume is excerpted from Shiva's Rending the Veil (Hohm Press, 1995).
Four Whirling Dervish
There is a gentle sweetness to this text which captures some of the appropriate majesty of Islam while retaining the delicate grace of a Western book of poetry. Though the printing suffers from low quality control, the layout and inclusion of Persian script raises the dignity of the book. I have read several academic English translations of Islamic text and hungered for a bit of sugar to help it all go down. Shahram Shiva is the candy man bringing spiritual medicine to the child within us. His work is a wizened source of subtle psychoneuroimmune elixirs. In this book he finds the balance between dignity and play. The way I imagine Rumi.

RUMI the book of LOVE
Translation and Commentary by Coleman Barks
Coleman Barks begins the preface of his gazillionth book of Rumi translations by saying, "I have sold too many books." Maybe so, but he hasn't tired of translating and retranslating Rumi. And people never seem to tire of reading the great Sufi mystic. Here, Barks delves into Rumi's take on love, retranslating dozens of poems he first adapted for The Essential Rumi (1995) and offering a few new translations. Rumi's love was, of course, about a great deal more than romance. - Booklist
Three Whirling Dervish
This book should be listed in two categories. One as art object, in which case the book would receive accolades for weighty mannerism, art marks well made and placed for impact, and perhaps the best example of a New Age coffee-table book design, at an affordable price, available at the mall. But I am reading from a slightly different approach, fluid and expedient access to Rumi. So, while the book may answer the need of a unique market... as truly a work of art... I can not help but feel the form supersedes the function. I like the book, I just have trouble reading the words, in the shadow of the stylized art marks and Yak cream beige paper. But I will keep trying because I feel the translations are good and important to absorb. In the end I will open up to the book and add my own accolades, more whirling words of praise for a poet and his translators.

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