A poet is not without honor, except in her own country.
Louise Gluck may have won the 2020 Nobel Prize for Literature, but the best-selling poet in America isn’t her, but rather an Iranian guy who’s been dead for nearly 750 years.
The verses of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmi, better known as just Rumi, sell millions of copies each year in English translation. Untold numbers of couples work his poems into their wedding ceremonies — although, when he speaks of his Beloved, he probably means the Divine rather than a human sweetheart.
Madonna is a big fan. Chris Martin of Coldplay turned to Rumi to recover from his divorce from Gwyneth Paltrow, and snatches of his work found their way into the band’s lyrics. Beyonce and Jay-Z even named their daughter “Rumi.”
The man is a star.
But is it all a fad? Will Rumi eventually go the way of the Desiderata (“Go placidly among the noise and waste”),…