I am attempting to write novel. Character is loosely based on real-life Poet who lived and died in foreign country (b. 1919, d. 2005).

I would like this Character to create same poem this real-life Poet created, and write it in the novel.

How to reflect in Manuscript that this Poem is from deceased Poet?

  • If the poem was published before 1923 in the US, then it's not in the public domain yet and you will be plagiarizing by including it in your story without consent. penandthepad.com/public-domain-poems-7346249.html
    – levininja
    Feb 13, 2020 at 19:34
  • 1
    @levininja Presumably you mean if it was published after 1923 then it's [probably] not in the public domain. Note also that plagiarism and copyright infringement are entirely different; use of a poem written pre-1923 would most likely not infringe copyright, but failing to acknowledge the source would still be plagiarism. :-) Mar 1, 2020 at 11:08
  • Marium, the main problem you face is that the deceased poet's poem may well be subject to copyright, in which case your use of it to create your own literary work would be an infringement of that copyright. You can certainly create a novel about the deceased poet's life (their death removes the risk of being sued for defamation) but you can only use the poet's written work with licence from the copyright owner (if, as we might assume, the copyright exists in the work). Mar 1, 2020 at 11:24
  • How to tell if poem is subject to copyright.
    – Marium
    Mar 1, 2020 at 18:36
  • In your case the poem is definitely copyright protected. Older ones may be public domain, if the author is dead for a long time, see en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries%27_copyright_lengths
    – Corbie
    Mar 2, 2020 at 15:18

1 Answer 1


Plagiarism is using the work of others, without saying you did. So to avoid plagiarism and honor the original author, you could say that the poem is written by him/her in the afterword. Maybe add a short obituary.

In a scientific paper a footnote would be adequate, but in a novel this would break the reading flow.

  • You've addressed how to avoid plagiarism, but not how copyright infringement can be avoided, which is the primary issue here. Mar 1, 2020 at 11:17
  • If you have the permission to use the poem you don't have to mention it in the manuscript. That was the question. Copyright issues vary by nation, so this cannot be answered here.
    – Corbie
    Mar 2, 2020 at 15:14

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