The VOICE inside WATER

Coleman Barks is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and was educated at the University of North Carolina and at the University of California, Berkeley. After early work on his own writing, Barks began in 1977 to collaborate with scholars of the Persian language to translate into American free verse the poetry of the thirteenth-century mystic, Jelaluddin Rumi. This work has resulted in twenty-two volumes, including the bestselling Essential Rumi (1995), Rumi: The Big Red Book (2010)—which collects thirty-four years of Barks’s work on Rumi’s ghazals and rubai— and most recently Rumi: Soul Fury: Rumi and Shams Tabriz on Friendship (HarperCollins, 2014). Barks taught American literature and creative writing at the University of Georgia for thirty years, and since his retirement he has turned more and more to his own writing—generous selections of which have appeared in our pages. His most recent collections, both from the University of Georgia Press, are Hummingbird Sleep, Poems 2009–2011 (2013) and Winter Sky: New and Selected Poems, 1968–2008 (2008). In 2005 the U.S. State Department sent him to Afghanistan as the first American visiting speaker there in twenty-five years, and in 2006 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Tehran. Barks has also been honored with the Juliet Hollister Award for his work in the interfaith area, and in 2009 he was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. He has two sons and five grandchildren, all of whom live near him in Athens, Georgia.