Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Renowned writer reads Rumi

Coleman Barks reads tops off Winter Feast

Express Staff Writer

For the culmination of A Winter Feast for the Soul, a 40-day period of spiritual practice which started Jan. 15, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts presented a reading of the poetry of Rumi by Coleman Barks at the Presbyterian Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum on Monday, Feb. 23.

Jelaluddin Rumi lived in Persia in the 1200s and was a theologian as well as a poet. After his death, his followers and his son founded a Sufi Order known as the Order of the Whirling Dervishes, which is famous for its whirling ritual, which is also known as "The Turn."

"Over 5,000 people in 29 countries joined in the spiritual practice," said Valerie Skonie, the event organizer.

The last meditation for A Winter Feast for the Soul, which was a global meditation shared by Web cast with participants of the Winter Feast around the world, took place at Our Lady of Snows Catholic Church before the performance.

Barks, a highly respected translator of Rumi's poetry, was accompanied by Grammy-award nominated cellist and friend David Darling and later on in the performance by Wood River High School cellist Travis Job. Toward the end of the evening's performance, Barks and Darling were joined by Hafizullah Chisti, a Sufi Whirling Dervish dressed in traditional clothing. Chisti had spent the weekend at the Hailey Yoga Center teaching "The Turn."

Barks, draped in a red shawl, read several Rumi poems, which he said he had not performed before. In addition he read a poem by Robert Penn Warren and his own works, which were witty, funny and echoed subjects of Rumi, which covered, love, the soul, tattoos and much more.

"It is all meant to open the heart," Barks said with a southern twang. "An exchange is always going on."

At the end, Barks read the last of the Rumi poems to a blues rhythm and invited Job to join him and Darling on stage one last time, Job had practiced with Barks and Darling for under 30 minutes before performing.

Sabina Dana Plasse:

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