Cover To Cover is the anchor program for GPB’s literary coverage. Cover To Cover features a collection of distinctive Southern voices interviewing Georgia writers, Southern writers, and writers dealing with the South. The GPB Southern Lit Cadre will provide you with a varied, weekly glimpse at fiction, non-fiction, history, poetry, and even the occasional ‘old school’ nod to Flannery O’Connor or William Faulkner.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Music and Mysticism

This Sunday, Cover to Cover presents a special hour-long show featuring poet and Rumi translator Coleman Barks. Barks, a recent inductee into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame, is interviewed by Jeff Calder, and had this to say about his subject:

Coleman Barks is one of the most popular literary figures to emerge from the South in recent decades. In person, he is gentle and accommodating, not at all fearsome until he draws himself up to recite a poem. Then everything gets extra real in the manner of 800 BC. The great seductive power of his voice—fully evident in the interview this Sunday, August 9—seems to put the listener in touch with the time when language first began to express complex psychological states.

Coleman has achieved an international profile as an interpreter of Rumi; his many translations of the Sufi poet have sold over a half-million copies worldwide.
He has written a half-dozen books of his own poetry, selections of which have recently been published under the title Winter Sky by the University of Georgia Press. He runs Maypop Books, a publishing company based in Athens, Georgia. He’s taken part in two hour-long PBS specials with Bill Moyers.

Coleman has appeared on an astonishing variety of recordings, reciting his own poetry and Rumi’s against backgrounds of mandolins and oboes from the West, sitars and tablas from the East. 2008 marked the release of The Here and The Gone, his third collaboration with Tuatara, the world music combo featuring Peter Buck of R.E.M. A variety of these songs can be heard throughout this hour-long interview.

In 2006, Coleman Barks received an Honorary Doctorate in Persian Language and Literature from the University of Tehran. He taught at the University of Georgia for 30 years and has since retired as Professor Emeritus.

Listen to this episode