Why is Rumi the best-selling poet in the US?
This 807-year-old Persian mystic and dervish has a massive following in the US and around the world. Jane Ciabattari explains his enduring influence: BBC
The ecstatic poems of Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, a Persian poet and Sufi master born 807 years ago in 1207, have sold millions of copies in recent years, making him the most popular poet in the US. Globally, his fans are legion.
“He’s this compelling figure in all cultures,” says Brad Gooch, who is writing a biography of Rumi to follow his critically acclaimed books on Frank O’Hara and Flannery O’Connor. “The map of Rumi’s life covers 2,500 miles,” says Gooch, who has traveled from Rumi’s birthplace in Vakhsh, a small village in what is now Tajikistan, to Samarkand in Uzbekistan, to Iran and to Syria, where Rumi studied at Damascus and Aleppo in his twenties. His final stop was Konya, in Turkey, where Rumi spent the last 50 years of his life. Today Rumi’s tomb draws reverent followers and heads of state each year for a whirling dervish ceremony on 17 December, the anniversary of his death.