The Rumi prescription How an ancient mystic poet changed my modern manic life

Melody Moezzi, 1979-

Book - 2020

"A powerful personal journey to find meaning and life lessons in the words of a wildly popular 13th century poet. Rumi's inspiring and deceptively simple poems have been called ecstatic, mystical, and devotional. To writer and activist Melody Moezzi, they became a lifeline. In The Rumi Prescription, we follow her path of discovery as she translates Rumi's works for herself - to gain wisdom and insight in the face of a creative and spiritual roadblock. With the help of her father, who is a lifelong fan of Rumi's poetry, she immerses herself in this rich body of work, and discovers a 13th-century prescription for modern life"--

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[New York] : TarcherPerigee, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC [2020]
Main Author
Melody Moezzi, 1979- (author)
Physical Description
xx, 250 pages ; 24 cm
Includes bibliographical references (pages [245]-250).
  • Author's Note
  • Chapter 1. Dx: Wanting
  • Rx: Go to the Source
  • Chapter 2. Dx: Isolation
  • Rx: Invent, Don't Imitate
  • Chapter 3. Dx: Haste
  • Rx: Quit Keeping Score
  • Chapter 4. Dx: Depression
  • Rx: Welcome Every Guest
  • Chapter 5. Dx: Distraction
  • Rx: Go Beyond the Five and Six
  • Chapter 6. Dx: Anxiety
  • Rx: Follow the Light of Your Wounds
  • Chapter 7. Dx: Anger
  • Rx: Fall in Love with Love
  • Chapter 8. Dx: Fear
  • Rx: Quit Making Yourself So Small
  • Chapter 9. Dx: Disappointment
  • Rx: Wake Up
  • Chapter 10. Dx: Pride
  • Rx: Return to the Source
  • Glossary
  • Acknowledgments
  • Citations
Review by Kirkus Book Review

In a book that is more memoir than how-to manual, Moezzi (Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life, 2014, etc.) chronicles her effort to apply Rumi's 13th-century poetry to her 21st-century life.Some readers may be surprised that the bestselling poet in the United States is a Muslim mystic who died nearly 750 years ago. Moezzi, however, isn't the least bit stunned that Rumi's words resonate with contemporary Western readers; it just took her a while to embrace them herself. She grew up in Ohio "dodging dead Persian poets" because her father "is a tried-and-true Rumi addict, and like most children of addicts, I grew up resenting the object of my father's addiction." But as an adult, the author decided to mine the Sufi mystic's poetry to seek remedies for some of her own modern maladiese.g. anxiety, fear, etc.and found his words life-changing. Each of the chapters begins with a diagnosis and ends with a prescription, featuring stanzas of Rumi's work that Moezzi translated and studied with her father. Though Rumi's poetry and its impact on her life are noteworthy, there are two narrative elements that stand out more. First, the author's prose offers an intimate, endearing look at her relationship with her father. Second, Moezzi weaves throughout the narrative discussions of her interminable efforts to destigmatize both Islam and mental illnessnot in a self-promoting way but as an advocate for herself and others; the book could shatter a variety of prejudices and stereotypes. Furthermore, the author's translation of Rumi's poetry will appeal to many readers because it's well distilled and reads much like a series of aphorisms. Moezzi doesn't claim to fully understand or precisely apply Rumi's ancient wisdom; she's simply telling the story of how his body of work has influenced her life.A heartening narrative of family, transformation, and courage. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

I've been blessed with an intense appreciation for mu­sic and cursed with a staggering lack of talent for it. Years of violin and piano lessons proved this definitively. But neither my atrocious sight-reading nor my dreadful recital performances did anything to curtail my love of music--for you need not compose, create, or even read a melody to revel in it. That's the magic of music. It needs no translation. Words, however, do.   While musicians can transcend language, writers are bound by it. Think of all the cheesy lyrics we tolerate and even enjoy in love songs that would induce vomiting if they ever appeared in a book of poetry minus the music. I expect that even the brilliant Beyoncé and Jay-Z know that the real genius behind a song like "Crazy in Love" isn't in the bizarre bridge ( Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, oh, no, no . . . ) or the captivat­ing chorus ( Got me lookin' so crazy right now . . . ), but in the notes .   Eight centuries ago and thousands of miles away, the great Per­sian mystic poet and Islamic scholar Molana Jalaloddin Muhammad Balkhi Rumi knew this too. For while Rumi's verse is made up en­tirely of words, it's more than that. In Persian, also known as Farsi, the word for poem--" shehr " -- means "song" as well. By no coinci­dence, Rumi's classical Persian verse isn't meant to be read while sit­ting, but rather sung while spinning. For this is how Rumi composed his mystical poetry, whirling and rhyming ecstatically. The miracle here is that this verse isn't just good; it's extraordinary--which is why it has been translated into every major language on earth. It's also why Rumi has become so wildly popular around the world today--especially in America, where he is often identified as the bestselling poet in the country and has arguably earned the highest seal of ap­proval from American pop culture, as Bey and Jay have now named a daughter after him.   There is a reason Rumi's poetry has survived so long and reached so far. His rhymes honor the sublime power of music, begging to be sung, despite and because of the fact that his verse is so exquisite that it stands alone. Even without music and in translation, Rumi's words resonate across time and space, speaking to the unifying force within all of us that transcends language, culture, race, and religion. Herein rests Rumi's notion of "the Beloved," known by countless different names--God, Truth, Light, Nature, Beauty, and the Universe, to name just a few--but sharing a common essence inextricably rooted in love. As such, the Beloved is not a passion we ought to pursue, but a sacred inheritance that lives within each of us, that connects us, and that-- if we let it --wakes us up.   This book is the story of how--with the help of my father and Rumi--I woke up. Along the way, I faced all of the diagnoses and ap­plied all of the prescriptions that follow, which is why I've organized the chapters largely chronologically and in the order of every diag­nosis (Dx) and prescription (Rx) that propelled my journey forward. I still encounter each of these diagnoses daily, for wanting, isolation, haste, depression, distraction, anxiety, anger, fear, disappointment, and pride are all inherent to the human condition. But thanks to Rumi's poetic prescriptions and my father's patience in dispensing them, I finally feel up to the task. In fact, I welcome it. My hope is that this book will help you do the same. Not in the same way or through the same path, but in your way and through your path.                                                           *** My father, who is fluent in both modern Farsi and Rumi's medieval variety, raised me on a steady diet of Rumi. All the while, I knew these verses were my inheritance. Yet it took me more than thirty years to claim it. Rumi's poetry is epic and untranslatable: full of allegory, commentary, wordplay, and copi­ous literary and Quranic allusions that routinely went over my head growing up and often still do. For most of my life, the idea that some­one like me--with my fourth-grade Farsi reading level--could even begin to translate Rumi seemed laughable, not to mention irrespon­sible. But two visionaries inspired me to approach the task with all the love, courage, humor, and humility it demanded.   First and foremost, there was my father. He believed in me and promised to help, and he did-- a lot . The short translations sprinkled throughout this book represent a tiny sliver of Rumi's voluminous rhyming couplets, quatrains, and ghazals. Still, translating them was exacting . Some verses took me days, weeks, months, or even years to translate to my relative satisfaction. But I was never alone. Rumi was always there, and more often than not, so was my dad. In fact, all of the translations in this book are by my father, Ahmad Moezzi, and me. He patiently guided me through the Persian of every verse, and I carefully chose which words to use in English. In doing so, I tried to preserve the meaning and musicality of Rumi's poetry. At times, however, I sacrificed some of the former for the latter or vice versa. While I have undoubtedly failed to do Rumi justice here, please know that any such failures are neither Rumi's nor my father's, but mine alone.   The second sage who emboldened me to begin translating this poetry was Coleman Barks. If you've ever encountered Rumi in En­glish before this, then it was likely through Barks' translations. Both my father and I agree that no one has better captured or spread the spirit of Rumi's poetry in English than Coleman Barks. What's more, he doesn't speak Farsi. Barks' more soulful and less literal interpreta­tions of Rumi's verse are based on other translations from the origi­nal Persian, most notably R. A. Nicholson's. For years, I didn't realize this, because I have a bad habit of skipping introductions and au­thor's notes. (Yes, I appreciate the irony.) I had always just assumed that translating a work required knowing its original language. Turns out, not necessarily, especially when it comes to Rumi, who adamantly believed that it was better to be of the same heart than of the same tongue . And Coleman Barks is undeniably of Rumi's same heart. Indeed, Barks' inspired translations serve as a testament to Rumi's assertion that sometimes language can be a hindrance to love--so much so that the prolific Persian poet noted that when it comes to love, the pen breaks.   The combination of my father's faith in my ability and Barks' rightful audacity helped set me free. Because the biggest barrier to writing this book wasn't all the translation, transcription, and trans­formation that I knew it would require. It was the belief that this poetry, this language , was above and beyond me, that despite speaking Farsi and sharing Rumi's ancestry, I was still somehow unworthy of his words. Barks' beautiful translations reminded me that I didn't need to be an expert in classical Persian to claim my own literary inheritance. For if he could claim it without being or knowing Per­sian, then surely so could I. I could study my father's beloved poetry. I could embrace the name my mother gave me. And I could accept that my humanity makes me worthy.   Nevertheless, as a twenty-first-century Iranian-American who speaks killer Fanglish and decent Farsi, I needed a patient and devoted friend to guide me through Rumi's incomparable lyrical world, full of powerful prescriptions for even the most seemingly modern human dilemmas. Through his life, my father has always been that friend and guide for me, and through this book, I hope to be the same for you. Excerpted from The Rumi Prescription: How an Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Modern Manic Life by Melody Moezzi All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.