Born in 1937 in Chattanooga, Tennessee and educated at the Univ. of North Carolina (BA 1959; PhD 1968) and at the Univ. of California, Berkeley (MA 1961), Coleman Barks has since 1977 collaborated with various scholars of the Persian language (most notably, John Moyne) to bring over into American free verse the poetry of the 13th
Century mystic, Jelaluddin Rumi. This work has resulted in 21 volumes, including the bestselling Essential Rumi in 1995, two appearances on Bill Moyers’ PBS specials and inclusion in the prestigious Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces. The Rumi translations have sold more than a million copies. It is claimed that over the last 15 years Rumi has been the most-read poet in the United States. In the fall of 2010 HarperOne will publish RUMI: THE BIG RED BOOK, which will collect all of the work on Rumi's ghazals and rubai that he has done over the past 34 years.
Dr. Barks taught American Literature and Creative Writing at various universities for 34 years, and has published seven volumes of his own poetry. The Univ. of Georgia Press published WINTER SKY: Poems 1968-2008 in September of 2008. In 2004, he received the Juliet Hollister Award for his work in the interfaith area. In March
2005, the US State Dept. sent him to Afghanistan as the first visiting speaker there in 25 years. In May of 2006 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Tehran. In 2009, he was inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. He is now retired Professor Emeritus at the Univ. of Georgia in Athens. He has two
grown sons and four grandchildren, all of whom live near him in Athens, Georgia.