Gold Rumi: Poems, Stories, and Songs with acclaimed translator and composer Haleh Liza Gafori

Haleh Liza Gafori
Fri November 10th 2023, 5:00 - 7:00pm
Event Sponsor
Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies
Hamid and Christina Moghadam Program in Iranian Studies
Event is open to
General Public
Experience Type
Campbell Recital Hall
Braun Music Center, 541 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
Campbell Recital Hall

GOLD RUMI : Poems, Stories, and Songs with acclaimed translator and composer

Haleh Liza Gafori

📅 Friday, November 10, 2023, 5:00 p.m. (Doors will open at 5:00 p.m. and event will start at 5:30 p.m.)

📍 Campbell Recital Hall, Braun Music Center, 541 Lasuen Mall, Stanford, CA 94305 (For detailed directions and accessibility information, check the Eventbrite page).


Drawing from her book GOLD, published by New York Review Books in 2022, Gafori weaves her translations of poems by the beloved mystic and sage Rumi, with songs featuring the original Persian text, as well as anecdotes and explorations of Sufi mystical terms that recur throughout Rumi’s poetry. The result is an uplifting and thought-provoking poetic and musical performance piece, in which the mystical poems and philosophy pulsing through them dialogue with our times and invite us into deeper levels of compassion and generosity.


Haleh Liza Gafori is a translator, vocalist, poet, and composer born in NYC of Persian descent. Her highly acclaimed book, Gold (New York Review Books Classics/Penguin Random House, 2022), features her translations of poems by Rumi, the 13th century sage and mystic. Supported by a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts, Gafori has created a cross-media performance piece based on the book, weaving her translations of Rumi's poetry, original text, and musical compositions sung in Persian and English. Gafori’s work has been published by Columbia University Press, Harvard Review, Literary Hub, Hyperallergic, The Marginalian, and elsewhere. She has performed and presented at universities and festivals across the country and abroad, including Lincoln Center, the New York Public Library, Bard College, Stanford University, Swarthmore College, and the Bradford Literary Fest. 



Praise for GOLD:

“Haleh Liza Gafori’s Gold is everything Rumi was himself—sacred, profane, laugh out loud funny, deeply earnest, demotic, and yes, Persian. There’s a rich fluency here not just in idiom but in gesture, in spirit. It’s uncanny to encounter eight-hundred-year-old verse this urgent: “Misers rule. Generosity fades from memory,” Rumi writes. Still, “Your eyes see. Your heart is full.” Gafori’s Rumi teaches me how to wander into mystery—“humble as soil”—without galloping toward some hasty and inorganic conclusion: “A barren moon shines. A sour world smiles. What do I know but the light shining down?” What a gift this is, what gold.”- Kaveh Akbar, Poetry Editor at The Nation

“Rumi, ancient and eternal. Magnetic in his eloquent devotion and his soulful intelligence. Majestic in his whirling silk robe and his defiant disdain for his culture’s worship of status. Volcanic with poetry. . . . A dazzling selection of his poetry, including some never previously alive in English, appears in Gold, newly translated and inspirited by poet and musician Haleh Liza Gafori.”- Maria Popova, The Marginalian

”Haleh Liza Gafori’s translations of Rumi are exquisite. Gorgeous, fluent, faithful translations, rendering Rumi’s voice on the page with an original integrity that is as skilled as it is unforgettable. - Pádraig Ó Tuama, host of On Being’s Poetry Unbound

“Haleh Liza Gatori’s ecstatic and piercing translation has lifted a veil, bringing Rumi closer into the quick of our present. Each poem is a divine invitation. Free your mind. Drown in love.”
- V(formerly Eve Ensler)

“This new translation preserves the radical intelligence and the ecstatic drama of poems that are as full of individual character as they are of visionary wisdom.” - New York Review Books

“Haleh Liza Gafori’s energetic translation highlights the timelessness of Rumi’s work, delivering unforgettable phrases. Rumi’s introspective nature…cosmic vision…and deeply contemplative yet accessible poems star in this worthy translation.” - Publishers Weekly 

“In this eloquent, faithful translation of the popular 13th-century poet and mystic Rumi, Persian American poet and musician Gafori opens a fresh window on Rumi’s spiritual quest and his urgent invitation to readers to embrace a more enlightened existence. Ecstatic, spinning lines wind through mystical paradoxes—wordless speaker, footless runner, placeless place—toward a sense of wonder and oceanic love.” - Library Journal

"Thoughtfully translated, the poems in GOLD are spectacularly beautiful and in some cases hilarious poems you can really chew on”  -Tim Ferriss

“Gafori is Iranian [and American]… grew up with Rumi’s poetry and songs in her household, and has spent years studying his work on a mission to bring it into English. Unlike many who have had these capabilities and ambitions, she also has a gift for creating free verse lines in English that capture much of the beauty and paradox in Rumi’s original. And they have their sonic pleasures. Gold is a perfect introduction to the illuminations in Rumi’s work, or an important addition to your Rumi bookshelf.” - Elizabeth T Gray, Jr. , Hyperallergic

“Gold steers clear of gurudom for a poetics divine and earthly . . . here is a supple, intimate idiom still anchored to the sacred, a poetics of arousal that puts ‘mystery in the middle.’. . . In the serene grandeur of these poems . . . there are traces of the Central Asian melting pot he left behind: Buddhist renunciation, Zoroastrian fire. . . . Beneath the gorgeous imagery, there are hard questions about how to live in times of crisis. Far from new-age quietism, these poems urge the heart to be alert, amazed, to meet the ‘sour world’ awake. ‘You have a role at this feast. Rise up.’” - Yasmine Seale, 4 Columns

“Haleh Liza Gafori’s new translations of Rumi are the work of someone who is at once an acute and enamored reader of the original Farsi text, a dedicated miner of context and backstory, and, best of all, a marvelous poet in English.”
- Marilyn Hacker, Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets ‘08-’14

“I have been longing for this gorgeous book, this specific translation of Rumi’s poems my whole life. As Rumi says in one of the book's poems, “Wherever the soul soared/Fire was there first.”  Haleh Liza Gafori has taken Rumi’s original Farsi text and unleashed its fire. My soul soars reading each poem. She has given us a great and graceful gift.”
- Elizabeth Lesser

“Rumi’s beautiful melding of wildness, insight and untrammeled joy has found a true, unerring voice in Haleh Liza Gafori, whose own fine abilities as a poet bring these hallowed Persian, poetic gifts anew into 21st century English.” - David Whyte

“These are the Rumi translations we’ve been waiting for! In Gold, translated by Persian-American poet/singer Haleh Liza Gafori, meanings and images hurtle us towards love and ecstasy, just as Rumi intended. You won’t read these words so much as dance with them. Hang on tight as they begin whirling. Unbuckle your seat belt as they take flight. Pure Gold!” - Bob Holman 

Haleh Liza Gafori and GOLD RUMI