poetry friday

Myra here.

I am glad to be joining the Poetry Friday community this week. I received this poetry book for my birthday and since then I have been aching to share them with all of you.

Thank you to Tara Smith of A Teaching Life for hosting the Poetry Friday round-up!


I find that this fits quite well into our reading theme as my soul found rest and refuge in its pages.


The Illuminated Rumi

Translations and Commentary by: Coleman Barks Illuminations by: Michael Green
Published by: Broadway Books, 1997. ISBN: 9780767900027
Personal copy of the book. Book photos taken by me.

This must be one of my most treasured books to date. There is something about Rumi’s poetry that moves me deeply – accompanied by breathtakingly-surreal art and superb book design with lovely layout and typography, this one is a real keeper.

This book also counts as part of my Book Riot Read Harder Challenge whereby we are asked to read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction). While the book shares nuggets of wisdom from Sufism, which is an aspect or dimension of Islam, I find that Illuminated Rumi has more to do with spirituality more than anything else. According to the jacketflap of the book: “Rumi’s passionate, playful poems find and celebrate sacred life in everyday existence.” Some of his poems in this book also make mention of Jesus, Allah, and a few more biblical characters, anchoring it from within a specific worldview or belief system. Yet it is also very inclusive, as can be seen in this poem:


There is a release from the boundaries of one’s self such that one is everything and nothing at the same time. There is beauty in simply being as one pays greater attention to what it means to be alive as one feeds the soul with the sight of a bird perched on a tree branch:


Another favourite of mine that soothed my soul was these lines from another poem:


Don’t pray to be healed, or look for evidence
of “some other world.”
You are the soul
and medicine for what wounds the soul.

There are ten major themes in the book. I won’t be going through all of them but highlighting the one which is most relevant given our reading theme on travel and journey – restlessness and refuge: Rise Up Nimbly – a transcendence of one’s life circumstance and an affirmation of mustering up the courage required to take on one’s life journey.

It is from this theme that I am drawing the two poems I would be sharing with you today:


And here is another one:


I don’t know where I’m going. 
You’re the road
and the knower of roads,
more than maps,  
more than love.

My absolute favourite though in the collection is this one:


How about you, poetry loving friends? Who are your go-to poets to help soothe your tired soul?

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(15/24) Read a book about religion (fiction or nonfiction)

Myra is a Teacher Educator and a registered clinical psychologist based in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. Prior to moving to the Middle East, she lived for eleven years in Singapore serving as a teacher educator. She has edited five books on rediscovering children’s literature in Asia (with a focus on the Philippines, Malaysia, India, China, Japan) as part of the proceedings for the Asian Festival of Children’s Content where she served as the Chair of the Programme Committee for the Asian Children’s Writers and Illustrators Conference from 2011 until 2019. While she is an academic by day, she is a closet poet and a book hunter at heart. When she is not reading or writing about books or planning her next reads, she is hoping desperately to smash that shuttlecock to smithereens because Badminton Is Life (still looking for badminton courts here at UAE - suggestions are most welcome).

8 comments on “[Poetry Friday] The Illuminated Rumi

  1. Rumi’s writing are beautiful. What a gorgeous book.


  2. That is an incredibly eye-catching book! 🙂


  3. That is a stunning book, Myra. Rumi never ceases to soothe me, especially in these troubled times. Our “world leaders” just need to spend some time with the wisdom and poetry of Rumi.


  4. This is a book I wish many could read and take in, for themselves, for those close and far to them, Myra. I love “the stream knows it can’t stay on the mountain”. Thank you for sharing your favorites!


  5. maryleehahn

    I’ve seen (and drooled over) this book! It’s GORGEOUS! Just picking it up and browsing would lower your blood pressure!


  6. I am drawn to his suggestions to welcome our similarities to the moon and its cycle of waxing and waning. Thanks for sharing your lovely birthday gift with us!


  7. This book is incredibly moving. Thank you for sharing this gift!


  8. Hi Myra. What a gorgeous book!!! Especially that last double page spread. Just reading it is enough to make you dissolve! I’m a Rumi fan, too. In fact I quoted Rumi just this week, paired with art. Here’s the link if you’re interested: https://michellehbarnes.blogspot.com/2016/08/two-line-tuesday-rumi.html


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