Abstract

Abstract:

This article examines an ever-proliferating, little-discussed phenomenon: notes in contemporary African American poetry. Attending to the form and content of these threshold spaces elucidates how Black poets operate within but refuse incorporation into historically white institutions. Reading three examples—Wade in the Water by Tracy K. Smith, To Repel Ghosts by Kevin Young, and Dangerous Goods by Sean Hill—it argues that these successful poets do not view notes as of an "incidental nature" but manipulate them, operating in but not of the discourses they mimic. Poets exploit this textual space to subvert institutional limits; their annotation yields self-reflexive outcomes that demand attention as descended yet distinct from paratexts of Black precursors.

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