Coleman Barks (born 1937) is an American poet. Although he neither speaks nor reads Persian, he is nonetheless renowned as an interpreter of Rumi and other mystic poets of Persia.
Barks is a native of Chattanooga, Tennessee. He attended the Baylor School as a teenager, then studied collegiately at the University of North Carolina and the University of California, Berkeley. Barks taught literature at the University of Georgia for three decades. He currently lives in Athens, Georgia, where he interprets the writings of Rumi and composes poetry of his own.
Barks makes frequent international appearances and is well-known throughout the Middle East. Barks' work has contributed to an extremely strong following of Rumi in the English-speaking world. Due to his work, the ideas of Sufism have crossed many cultural boundaries over the past few decades. Coleman Barks received an honorary doctorate from Tehran University in 2006.
He has also read his original poetry at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival.
In March 2009 Barks was inducted to the Georgia Writers' Hall of Fame.
In early 2011, Barks suffered a stroke that has somewhat impaired his speech and has resulted in at least one