Daniel Ladinsky (born 1948) is an American poet and interpreter of mystical poetry, born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Over a twenty-year period, beginning in 1978, he spent extensive time in a spiritual community at Meherabad, in western India, where he worked in a rural clinic free to the poor, and lived with the intimate disciples and family of Meher Baba.
He has written four works based on poetry of 14th-century Persian Sufi poet Hafiz: I Heard God Laughing (1996), The Subject Tonight Is Love (1996) The Gift (1999), and A Year With Hafiz:Daily Contemplations, (2011) as well as an anthology, Love Poems from God:Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West (2002), and The Purity of Desire:100 Poems of Rumi (2012). In introductions to his books, Ladinsky notes that he offers interpretations and renderings of the poets, rather than literal or scholarly translations. His work is based on conveying and being "faithful to the living spirit" of Hafiz, Rumi, as well as other mystic poets. In 2017 Ladinsky published Darling, I Love You Poems from the Hearts of Our Glorious Mutts, featuring his original haiku, illustrated by Patrick McDonnell, creator of the internationally syndicated MUTTS comic strip.
Early life and background
Ladinsky was born and brought up in suburbs of St. Louis, Missouri, where his father was a wealthy developer. He grew up with two brothers, and had a Jewish upbring as his father was Jewish, though he has also baptized as a Catholic, as his mother was Christian. After studying in small colleges, at age 20, he enrolled at the University of Arizona. During this period he came across the book God Speaks, by Meher Baba, and poetry by Rumi, both of which had a deep impact on him. At the back of the Meher Baba book, he found the address of the five centers dedicated to the spiritual master. Some time later, as Ladinsky recounted in an interview, intending to driving towards the Andes mountain, he took a detour of a thousand miles, and stopped the Meher Baba Center at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Here, he met a disciple Kitty Davy, then in her seventies, who had spent twenty years in India with Meher Baba. He stayed at the Center for a few months, when Davy advised him to go back to his family, and to find a job that would let him work with his hands. Back home, his father helped him join a carpentry school.
He worked for a few years at a carpentry job, and thereafter joined his father's investment company. But unable to find fulfillment, he visited the Meher Baba Center in South Carolina again. Then, in 1978, Davy advised him to visit the Meher Baba ashram, at Meherabad, near Ahmednagar, India. Here he met Meher Baba's sister Mani Irani, and his close disciple, Eruch Jessawala. Though, Ladinsky's first visited lasted only for two weeks, it started a process which continued with regular visits for the next two decades, and Jessawala became his spiritual teacher. He even lived at a nearby spiritual community at Meherazad for six years, working at the local free clinic and spending time with Jessawala.
In early 1990s, under the guidance of one of Meher Baba's close disciple, Jessawala, Ladinsky' started working on English renderings of poems of Hafiz, a 14th-century Persian mystic poet. Since he did not know the Persian language, he based his "renderings" on an 1891 English translation of The Divan of Hafez by Henry Wilberforce-Clarke. Eventually, he published I Heard God Laughing in 1996. Thereafter he published more works on Hafiz, The Subject Tonight Is Love (1996) and The Gift (1999). Since the release of his first publication I Heard God Laughing, Ladinsky's books have been translated into German, Hebrew, Turkish, Indonesian, and Slovene languages and maintain international best-selling status in the religious and inspirational poetry genre. The BBC invited Ladinsky to write of Hafiz. His work is widely quoted on social media, e.g. by Rupi Kaur, Oprah, Paulo Coehlo, and many; it is reprinted in the books of internationally known authors, including Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, Greg Mortenson, Matthew Fox, Elif Shafak, Stephen R. Covey, Jack Kornfield, Tom Shadyac and Elizabeth Gilbert. Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sufi leaders and organizations, as well as non-affiliated spiritual and service groups, license Ladinsky's work for use and reprint.
Ladinsky's work has garnered positive commentary from Pakistani diplomat and academic Akbar S. Ahmed, has been favorably endorsed by The Christian Science Monitor writer, Alexandra Marks, and has been quoted in contemporary non-fiction by American Muslim writers such as Asma Gull Hasan. The Islamic Foundation of North America uses Ladinsky's The Gift in its Islamic literature curriculum. Some hail Ladinsky's contemporary work for creating an immediate access to the spirit and intention of Hafiz' verse. Ladinsky authored a short essay in the form of an Amazon.com review, entitled My Portrait of Hafiz, that offers a description of the process and background of his work. Turkish novelist Elif Shafak licensed Ladinsky's Rumi work for reprint in her titles.
Scholars and critics point out that Ladinsky's poems are originals, and not translations or interpretations of Hafez. Christopher Shackle describes The Gift as "not so much a paraphrase as a parody of the wondrously wrought style of the greatest master of Persian art-poetry" and Aria Fanil describes his contribution thusly "Ladinsky does not know Persian while his poems bear little or no resemblance to what Hafez has composed"  That his poems are neither written nor intended to fall under the purview of literal and/or scholarly translations of Hafiz' work, Ladinsky states in each of his volumes.
In April 2009, the Premier of Ontario, Dalton McGuinty, recited from Ladinsky's book at a Nowruz celebration in Toronto, but was later informed there was no corresponding Persian original for the poems.
Ladinsky continues to live in a rural wilderness farm in the Ozarks of Missouri, on a ranch outside of Taos, New Mexico, and at other times, he lives next to the Meher Spiritual Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.
- I Heard God Laughing: Renderings of Hafiz (1996 & 2003) ISBN 0-14-303781-1
- The Subject Tonight Is Love: Sixty Wild and Sweet Poems of Hafiz (1996 & 2006) ISBN 978-0-14-019623-8
- The Gift: Poems by Hafiz (1999) ISBN 0-14-019581-5
- Love Poems from God : Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West (2002) ISBN 0-14-219612-6
- A Year With Hafiz: Daily Contemplations (2011) ISBN 978-0-14-311754-4
- The Purity of Desire: 100 Poems of Rumi (2012) ISBN 978-0-14-312161-9
- Darling, I Love You: Poems from the Hearts of Our Glorious Mutts illustrated by Patrick McDonnell (2017, Penguin Books) ISBN 978-0-14-312826-7
- Daniel Ladinsky; Stevin McNamara (music) (2002). "Hafiz: The Scent of Light". Sounds True. ISBN 1-56455-958-0.
- Author Profile: Daniel Ladinsky Sounds True
- Ladinsky, Daniel (12 September 2009). "Daniel Ladinsky: Maybe the Best Lay in Town Is a Poem". Huffington Post. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- Ladinsky, Daniel (1996 & 2006) p.xi., "I Heard God Laughing, Penguin.
- Lawler, Andrew (October 2013). "Something Missing In My Heart". The Sun Magazine. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
- Ladinsky, Daniel (1996 & 2006) p. ix., I Heard God Laughing, Penguin.
- Sufism Reoriented Sufism Reoriented
- Thomas Grady Agency & NOBA Literary-permissions
- "Book Review: Love Poems from God, by Daniel Ladinsky". Spirituality & Practice. Retrieved 2014-01-19.
- Commentary: A Meditation on Love Ahmed, Akbar S. (Feb. 12, 2003) . Religion News Service.
- Marks, Alexandra (Sept. 2009) Editorial Reviews.
- Hasan, Asma Gull (2009) Red, White, and Muslim: My Story of Belief. New York: Harper One.
- The Islamic Foundation of North America
- Shadyac, Tom "Favorite Books", I Am, the documentary
- Surprise in Mystic Poetry: Daniel Ladinsky and Hafiz Alam, Sadiq (May 23, 2009).
- Ladinsky, Daniel (April 2005) My Portrait of Hafiz
- Murat Nemet-Nejat: The Poetry Project Newsletter, 1999
- A.Z. Foreman's review of The Gift: Poems from Hafiz the great Sufi Master
- Stealing Hafiz, Rick M. Chapman, White Horse Publishing Company, 2011
- 'Rewriting Hafez: Re-theorizing Untranslatability in Persian Poetry' article by Aria Fani
- Christopher Shackle, Translation and Religion: Holy Untranslatable? Edited by Lynne Long, 2005, p. 26)
- Daniel Ladinsky’s The Gift: Poems by Hafiz is an "original" poem masquerading as a "translation."
- See also Review of: The Gift: Poems from Hafiz the great Sufi Master
- Supposed Hafiz poem recited by McGuinty turns out to be fake
- "Daniel Ladinsky, Profile and Works". Poet Seers.