The most important contribution of Michael Leong’s Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American Poetry (2020) is its proposal of the neologism “documental”—a portmanteau of documentary and monumental—as a principal framework for understanding a significant body of twenty-first-century North American poetry, a poetry that, as Leong observes, so often preoccupies itself with documents of all sorts, “from news reports to testimonies to governmental records” (1). Under this rubric, Leong links poets ranging from M. NourbeSe Philip (b. 1947) to Mark Nowak (b. 1964) to Claudia Rankine (b. 1963) to Kenneth Goldsmith (b. 1961). Growing out of and moving beyond the citational practices of modernist and postmodernist precursors, contemporary documental poetics, as Leong conceives it, is in part a formalist category: documental poems prioritize techniques of citation, quotation, appropriation, erasure, and direct reproduction of the documents that motivate and constitute them. Documental poetics is also, however, an...
Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American Poetry
SETH MCKELVEY; Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American Poetry. Resources for American Literary Study 1 October 2021; 43 (1-2): 291–297. doi: https://doi.org/10.5325/resoamerlitestud.43.1-2.0291
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