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...
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Book Review| October 01 2021
Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American Poetry
Contested Records: The Turn to Documents in Contemporary North American PoetryBy Michael Leong.
U of Iowa P,
2020. x + 270 pp. $70
Resources for American Literary Study (2021) 43 (1-2): 291–297.
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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