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Modern illustration of Rumi
The ecstatic love poems of Rumi, the 13th-century Persian poet and Sufi mystic, are beloved by millions of readers around the world. He has been compared to Shakespeare for his outpouring of creativity and to Saint Francis of Assisi for his spiritual wisdom. Brad Gooch discusses the less-known life of the man behind that poetry, drawing on his new biography Rumi's Secret: The Life of the Sufi Poet of Love (Harper Collins).
As research, Gooch traveled the poet’s path from Iran to Turkey, Syria, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan to replicate the more than 2,500-mile journey across Central Asia that Rumi covered over his lifetime. He sets the poet’s life and times in the context of a world as rife with conflict as our own, and examines his transformation from a respectable Muslim preacher like his father into a poet and whirling mystic through his pivotal relationship with the dervish monk Shams of Tabriz. Their vital connection as teacher and pupil, friend and beloved, is one of the world’s great spiritual love stories. When Shams disappeared, Rumi coped with the pain of separation by composing joyous poems of reunion, both human and divine.
Gooch explores why Rumi, whose writings could be interpreted as heretical, has been spared by fundamentalists; how his influence transcends national borders and ethnic divisions; and why his works remain among the most-read poetry today.
Rumi’s Secret is available for signing.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)