“You are not a drop in the ocean, you are the entire ocean in a drop.” – Rumi

The still point at the centre of the mystical tradition concerns itself only with the purest experience of life, love and God. Centred around this point at the core of being, the greatest mystic poets have experienced a depth of feeling that has led them to write some of the most haunting, beautiful and profound verse ever written.

The mystical tradition, stretching from Rumi and Hafez to Rilke and Blake, continues to inspire contemporary poets and artists in a multitude of languages, crossing borders and building bridges between people. Join event host Abdul-Rehman Malik with Ben Okri, Zeina Hashem Beck, Dh Maitreyabandhu, Jamil Morris, Zahra Taheri and Ron Geaves for an enchanting event of contemporary poetry connected to this mystical tradition.

The event will culminate with a devotional performance of whirling dervishes, whose motions are a form of dhikr (remembrance of God).

About The Speakers

Ben Okri

Ben Okri is a highly acclaimed author and poet whose many books include The Famished Road, which won the Booker Prize in 1991. His work blends history, myth and folktales to explore the workings of the soul and the nature of humanity and has been translated into 26 languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and has been presented the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum for his outstanding contribution to the Arts and cross-cultural understanding. He was born in Nigeria, and lives in London.


Zeina Hashem Beck

Zeina Hashem Beck is the author of To Live in Autumn, winner of the 2013 Backwaters Prize; 3arabi Song, winner of the 2016 Rattle Chapbook Prize; and There Was and How Much There Was, a 2016 Laureate’s Choice, selected by Carol Ann Duffy. She won the 2016 May Sarton NH Poetry Prize for Louder than Hearts.

Jamil Morris

Jamiluddin Morris Zahuri has written many hundreds of poems on Sufi related themes – some of these have been published as ‘Poetry and a Cup of Tea’. Since retirement, along with an Irani murid, he has worked on-line for four years to provide a complete translation in rhymed English of all the ghazals of Hafiz Shirazi, the world famous Irani/Sufi poet and mystic.

Dh Maitreyabandhu

Maitreyabandhu’s first full collection, The Crumb Road is a PBS Recommendation. His new collection Yarn was published in autumn 2015. His pamphlet The Bond won the Poetry Book and Pamphlet Competition and was shortlisted for the Michael Marks Award. He lives and works at the London Buddhist Centre and has been ordained into the Triratna Buddhist Order for 26 years. He has written three books on Buddhism.

Ron Geaves

Ron Geaves is Visiting Professor in the Department of History, Archaeology and Religion, based in the Centre for the Study of Islam in the UK at Cardiff University. He is the author of Islam in Victorian Britain: The Life and Times of Abdullah Quilliam, along with other books on contemporary Islam. He has also been writing and performing poetry for many years, and his first full collection of poems Rumi Weeds is to be published later this year by Beacon Press.

Zahra Taheri

Dr. Zahra Taheri is the convenor of Persian Studies program and lecturer in Persian Language and Iranian Studies at the Australian National University. She is currently working on her upcoming book on The Image of Women in Persian Ethical Texts through a visiting scholar fellowship from the University of Oxford, UK. Dr. Taheri is also a published poet.

About The Host

Abdul-Rehman Malik

Abdul-Rehman Malik is a journalist, educator and organiser. He contributes to national and international publications and is a regular panelist on the BBC World Service’s Weekend World Today show; his ‘Pause for Thought’ radio column also airs regularly on BBC Radio 2. He works with young people in exploring Muslim identity through drama and is a speaker on faith issues.