Friday, August 15, 2008

Rumi with a view

My friend Cecilia Nadal (mother of the state rep from U. City with the really cool name, Maria Chappelle-Nadal) is a confluence kind of soul.

The "Faces of Love" stuff she does with her Gitana Productions project has been force-feeding multicultural arts to St. Louis for many years now. Her new season is taking up the hot regions of Iran and Afghanistan and their roots in medieval Persia.

Good luck, is the best one can say.

I was living in New York when 9/11 went down. Once I was able to function again as a reasonably engaged social being (it took about three months, which seemed about average for New Yorkers at the time), Osama bin-Laden and Afghanistan were on everybody's lips.

I had been a world music critic at a previous publication (was even syndicated, for a minute), and had a fair collection of Afghani music. I went around to people at the magazine where I worked, inviting people to borrow a CD and get to know something about that part of the world other than the fact that they had harbored terrorists who were out to get us.

I didn't get any takers.

Cecilia hires a PR firm (Synergy) to talk up her projects, and they produced a clean, elegant release on her new season and a poetry contest and reading that will kick it off at the Regional Arts Commission on October 18 (see that there release for details).

The poetry competition was inspired by the Rumi poem entitled "On Language," which says:

Besides words, allusions and arguments,
The heart knows a hundred thousand ways to speak.

I'll buy that.

I'm sneaking in a blog post from work, where I don't get sound on my computer, but I did a YouTube search on Rumi that I'll go back to, tonight, from home.

I learned from that Synergy release that St. Louis is home to about 6,000 Iranians and 1,500 Afghans. Those are higher numbers than most of us would have expected.

However, in my college days at Washington University, my best friend was Iranian. Today, she still has one of the most beautiful names of anyone I have ever known: Anoushka Sharifi. I hope she idly Googles her name one day and finds me here, for we have fallen out of touch.
But I remember those days in her little red hot rod, when I was lonely, she was named Anoushka, and she used to speak so passionately about revolution in Iran and with so much bitter anger over United States foreign policy in her country.

Judges for the Rumi poetry competition will include a notable Dr. Keschavarz, who was featured in 2007 on the National Public Radio series "Speaking of Faith: The Ecstatic Faith of Rumi."

I do like the confluence of ecstasy and faith. Maybe that's why the Muslim attorney activist Eric Vickers once said I have "a Sufi soul."

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