Synopses & Reviews
Considered one of the masterpieces of world literature, The Big Red Book
is perhaps the greatest work of Rumi, the medieval Sufi mystic who also happens to be the bestselling poet in America.
Rumi was born in 1207 to a long line of Islamic theologians and lawyers on the eastern edge of the Persian Empire in what is now Afghanistan. In order to escape the invading Mongol armies of Genghis Khan, his family moved west to a town now found in Turkey, where he eventually became the leader of a school of whirling dervishes. It was a fateful day in 1244 when he met Shams Tabriz, a wild mystic with rare gifts and insight. The renowned scholar Rumi had found a soul mate and friend who would become his spiritual mentor and literary muse. "What I had thought of before as God," Rumi said, "I met today in a human being."
Out of their friendship, Rumi wrote thousands of lyric poems and short quatrains in honor of his friend Shams Tabriz. They are poems of divine epiphany, spiritual awakening, friendship, and love. For centuries, Rumi's collection of these verses has traditionally been bound in a red cover, hence the title of this inspired classic of spiritual literature.
“Really, what other book would anyone ever need?” Naomi Shihab Nye, author of Honeybee
“Rumis Big Red Book tells us: ‘Compassion builds a door, Restlessness cuts a key. I am forever grateful to Coleman Barks, restless, yearning to find the bridge from Rumi and Shams to the world we presently inhabit. He is truly to Be Loved for making this ‘transaction with beauty…” Debra Winger, Actress
“An emeritus English professor at the University of Georgia, Barks has spent 34 years working on Rumis poetry you could even say that Rumi has been the secret companion musician Barks has danced to.” Los Angeles Times
“Without question, we can credit Coleman Barks with making Rumi accessible to American readers through his modernized renditions of the best-known poems of the great Islamic mystic.... Richly sensual yet never flowery, Barks language emphasizes Rumis embodied spirituality in a book to savor.” Booklist (starred review)
“Barks has become internationally renowned for his translations.... Rumi: The Big Red Book is the culmination of his work.” Shambhala Sun
“Coleman Barks found Rumi floating in some Georgia lake and brought him back to life. What a blessing! Rumi says, ‘Some nights stay up until dawn, as the moon sometimes does for the sun. Coleman has stayed up all night, and every reader is grateful.” Robert Bly, National Book Award-winning poet and translator
“Coleman Barks is a pioneer and renown scholar on Rumi, the great Sufi. In his elegant and exquisite way, Coleman has made Rumi as popular as Shakespeare to the world and continues to inspire us with the Rumis ecstatic poetry.” Deepak Chopra, author of The Shadow Effect and Jesus
About the Author
Coleman Barks is a renowned poet and the bestselling author of The Essential Rumi, Rumi: The Big Red Book, The Soul of Rumi, Rumi: The Book of Love, and The Drowned Book. He was prominently featured in both of Bill Moyers' PBS television series on poetry, The Language of Life and Fooling with Words. He taught English and poetry at the University of Georgia for thirty years, and he now focuses on writing, readings, and performances.