Coleman Barks loves transforming Rumi’s poetry into English
The punchline for Coleman Barks’ life was set up when he was only 7 years old. The Athens–based world–renowned poet and preeminent collaborative translator of Rumi was obsessed with geography, the way only children (and writers) can become consumed by a topic. He had memorized all the countries and capitals in the 1943 Rand McNally atlas. Since his father was headmaster of a boys prep school, he had every meal with 400 older schoolboys.
“They’d yell out countries, and I’d yell back the capital,” Barks says, suggesting that maybe he was extremely proud of it and still is.
Fatefully, an eccentric Latin teacher decided to test the young know–it–all and yelled, “Cappadocia!”
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