For instance, "A Rasin in the Sun" starts with the poem "Harlem." I've noticed many (mostly contemporary) novels will start chapters with pieces of Poetry or quotes that are completely separate from the chapter itself, but that somehow compliment it.

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    Commenter "what" has answered the question, but I would like to add that adding epigraphs to chapters or whole books is not a new custom but an old one revived. Eighteenth and nineteenth century novelists loved them. May 21 '15 at 5:24

It is called an epigraph or motto.

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