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The First BookTwentieth-Century Poetic Careers in America$
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Jesse Zuba

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780691164472

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691164472.001.0001

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Making Introductions

(p.154) Conclusion
The First Book

Jesse Zuba

Princeton University Press

This concluding chapter brings up to date the history of first-book prizes begun in Chapter 2. Supplementing the interpretation of poems with the interpretation of debut paratexts, this chapter shows how the prize-winning debut—framed by lyrical prefaces, elaborate acknowledgments, and other, often tellingly overwrought, textual devices and conventions—continues at the turn of the millennium to legitimate virtually all the figures and institutions operating in the field of poetic production. It highlights the ways in which debut paratexts evoke the ideal of poetic autonomy even as they call it into question, and furthermore the chapter looks at recent poems that illustrate poets' ongoing engagement with the complex issue of imagining careers at the moment before their careers have properly begun.

Keywords:   first-book prizes, poem interpretation, debut paratexts, poetic production, poetic autonomy, poetic careers

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