Canadian poet, writer and illustrator Rupi Kaur has written an introduction for a new edition of Kahlil Gibran’s bestselling book The Prophet, to be published next month, The New York Times reported on Saturday. The book is one of several classics that will lose copyright protection on New Year’s Day as they complete 95 years of their first release.
Books from 1923 such as The Prophet would have come out of protection in 1998, but the United States Congress passed a law that year to extend the copyright period by 20 more years. The coming year is the first time since 1998 that will see several works come into the public domain – and the trend will follow each coming January as more books turn 95.
Both Penguin and digital publisher Open Road Media will release new editions of The Prophet, which has never gone out of print since being first published. The foreword by Rupi Kaur will feature in Penguin’s edition, which will have 20,000 copies, according to The New York Times.
Rupi Kaur, a poet of Indian origin, is the bestselling author of Milk and Honey and The Sun and Her Flowers. She had first gained popularity for her poems on the social media site Instagram.
Penguin Classics Executive Editor John Siciliano said he commissioned a new introduction from a contemporary poet as he wanted something to set it apart from the older version. “I’d been thinking of who the perfect person would be, someone like Kahlil Gibran, a poet with mass appeal,” he said. “It became obvious that Rupi Kaur was the one.”
Siciliano said he hoped that Kaur’s large social media following would bring a new audience to Gibran’s book. “Having multiple editions of these works and renewed publication energy behind them enlarges the market rather than cannibalising it,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to breathe new life into these works.”
The other authors and artists whose books will come into public domain on January 1 include Marcel Proust, Willa Cather, DH Lawrence, Agatha Christie, Joseph Conrad, Edith Wharton, PG Wodehouse, Rudyard Kipling, Katherine Mansfield, Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens. With the copyright protection about to expire, publishers will be able to release new novels, plays, music and movies into the public domain.