Rumi: An 800th Birthday Celebration with Robert Bly

Sponsored by Continuing Studies


Saturday, January 27, 2007
1:00 pm –
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Event Details:

Join us for a multimedia celebration of the 800th anniversary of the birth of Rumi, the great Persian poet of exuberant love and ecumenical wisdom (and the bestselling poet in the United States today). Internationally acclaimed scholars and musicians will join poet Robert Bly in a joyful exploration of Rumi's life and a performance of his work. A catered Persian dinner is included.

Mawlana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207—73) was a poet and a scholar, a Sufi mystic, a learned theologian, and a foe of false certitudes in constant search for the ineffable meaning of life. This meaning, he was convinced, could be found in the divine that dwells in every human being. But our humanity, Rumi believed, has become sadly alienated—it is like “the reed estranged from its bed”—and poetry's purpose is to remind us of what we have lost and to help us retrieve it. This kind of life-restoring poetry, along with the music and dancing that accompanies it, is the very opposite of religious dogma, and is opposed to all fundamentalisms. Its message is love and unity—a message received and celebrated by Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, and secular humanists around the world today.

Come, come whoever you are.

Wanderer, idolater, worshipper of fire,

Come even though you have broken your vows a thousand times

Come, and come yet again.

Ours is not a caravan of despair.

1:00 pm

Welcoming remarks and opening musical performance by Mahmoud Zolfonoun

1:30 — 4:15 pm

Scholarly panel discussions on Rumi's life and work, with:

Camran R. Nezhat and Evleen Jones (Stanford School of Medicine)

Ahmad Karimi Hakkak (University of Maryland) on Rumi's poetry

Mohammad Haghi (Independent Scholar) on Rumi's mysticism

Mohammad Este'lami (McGill University) on The Masnavi

Frank Lewis (University of Chicago) on Rumi's life

4:30 — 5:30 pm

Presentation and reading to music by Fatemeh Keshavarz-Karamustafa and the Lian Ensemble

5:30 — 7:00 pm

Catered Persian dinner

7:30 pm

Poetry Reading by Robert Bly with musical interludes by Mahmoud Zolfonoun

Robert Bly, Poet and Author

Robert Bly is an internationally known poet, translator, and essayist; author of more than forty books celebrating the power of myth, ecstatic poetry, meditation, and storytelling. He is the author recently of The Insanity of Empire: A Book of Poems Against the Iraq War, The Night Abraham Called to the Stars, and My Sentence Was a Thousand Years of Joy. Bly often performs to the accompaniment of non-Western music, and in his recent books of poetry created a form he calls an “American ghazal,” inspired by ecstatic music from Iranian and Indian cultures.

This event is hosted by Abbas Milani, the Hamid and Christina Moghadam Director of the Stanford Iranian Studies Program, and co-sponsored by the Iranian Studies Program.

Admission Info

Registration begins November 27th!

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