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A Poet's Advice For Unlikely Partners: Just Dance

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A Poet's Advice For Unlikely Partners: Just Dance

A Poet's Advice For Unlikely Partners: Just Dance

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ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Ari Shapiro.

Last week, the U.S. announced it had reached a preliminary deal to freeze Iran's nuclear program. Many called it an important breakthrough. For some context, we're going to turn now to literature and the latest installment in our series This Week's Must Read. Author Ariel Dorfman recommends a book that he says gives us a chance to connect with someone most Iranians know well.

ARIEL DORFMAN: Let's plunge gently into the deepest wells of Persian identity. It's within reach. We can do it by connecting with a man named Rumi. Rumi was a Sufi master, a poet, born in 1207. His writing is luminous and salacious, mystical couplets composed in Farsi about God and love. In Iran, they carry him in their hearts the way we carry Shakespeare. Even reading a few of his poems can help us shatter stereotypes. Gamble everything for love, Rumi tells us, if you're a true human being.

But it's not just about literary diplomacy and understanding each other through poetry. Rumi was one of the wisest men to have wandered the Earth. We can also turn to him now for guidance, for how Americans and Iranians and others should react to this nuclear agreement, even those who may remain skeptical.

Give up wanting what other people have, Rumi says. That way, you're safe. Where, where can I be safe, you ask. This is not a day for asking questions, Rumi says.

And some words of warning from him for those negotiating on both sides. The wine God loves is human honesty. And don't let your throat tighten with fear.

Will this nuclear deal be a breakthrough, bring peace to our troubled planet? Dance, when you're broken open, says Rumi. Dance if you've torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance with Rumi's words and risk breaking yourself open. And then perhaps we'll at least have brought some peace to our troubled, divided humanity. We have fallen to the place, Rumi promises, where everything is music.

SHAPIRO: Ariel Dorfman's latest book is called "Feeding on Dreams: Confessions of an Unrepentant Exile." The poetry he recommended can be found in "The Essential Rumi" translated by Coleman Barks.

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