Rumi Commemorated/ Works to Enter Public Domain – Poetry News Roundup December 21st

Our final news round up of the week looks at the annual commemorations of the poet Rumi. We also look at the first works to enter the public domain in the US in over 20 years.

Rumi Commemorated in Turkey

The mystic poet Meylana Jala ad-Din, who is more commonly known as Rumi, died 745 years ago, but in Turkey they still commemorate the anniversary of his death.

Earlier this week, a traditional ceremony was held in Konya city, which is located 260 km south of Ankara, the country’s capital city. Konya is the location of the tomb of the late poet and Muslim scholar. The ceremony was organised by the whirling dervishes from Rumi’s Mevlevi Sufi Order.

The overwhelming message in the poet’s words is one of love, peace and tolerance, and his poems are well known all over the world, where they have been translated into many languages. His poems are especially popular in the United States.

The ceremony was, as it has been in previous years, attended by several thousand people; a mixture of both local people and tourists. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish President, also attended.

Rumi was not actually Turkish, he was born in what is now Afghanistan. He settled in Konya and wrote all of his poetry in Persian, which was the language of the time.

The main attraction, the whirling dervishes, performed “Sema”, a dance that is meant to represent the journey taken towards maturity and enlightenment. The ritual that makes up the dance, including the costumes that are worn and the music, have been inscribed on the List of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity held by UNESCO.

Copyrighted Works to Enter Public Domain for First Time in Over 20 Years

On January 1st, 2019, a number of works that are currently under copyright will enter the public domain. These are works that were first published in United States in 1923, and from midnight on New Years Eve they will be able to be quoted from at length on any platform.

This is the first mass expiration of copyright to occur in the United States in the last 21 years. The last such expiration took place in 1998, and was largely missing from the internet.

Amongst those works which will no longer be copyrighted is the poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost. The list is huge and includes several thousand books, paintings, poems, films and musical compositions

The reason for such a lengthy delay is in part due to Disney who in 1998 protested for a longer copyright protection. At the time any work published before 1978 was protected under copyright for 75 years. Anything published following that date was copyrighted for the lifetime of the author with an additional 50 years on top. Disney, and other companies, managed to have an additional 20 years added to the term creating this gap which is now coming to an end.

1998 saw T.S Eliot’s Wasteland, Ulysses by James Joyce and the poetry of Claude McKay becoming free from copyright, to name just a few of the last things to enter the public domain before this 20-year gap.

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