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Jenni(f)fer Tamayo Answers “The Citizenship Question”

The Georgia Review - Spring 2020Magazine Review by Katy Haas

The Spring 2020 issue of The Georgia Review was released around the time U.S. citizens were receiving census information in the mail, and the work inside the issue relates back to this: the census and citizenship. Jenni(f)fer Tamayo’s “The Citizenship Question” is a stand-out among these.

The piece reimagines the Application for Naturalization, or the U.S. Citizenship Application. This piece spans three pages, and Tamayo rewrites the questions and options given. The first two pages are straight forward enough, with the third falling into a more chaotic format with text written upside down, overlapping other text, or fading away into blank space.

I always enjoy this type of writing that mixes the cold format of a form (Marissa Spear does something similar with her medical reports in “How Many Ways Can One Spell Hysteria?” found in Moonchild Magazine) and reworks it with heart, feeling, and poetry. It can be a bizarre feeling to see personal information about yourself reduced to a few lines and checkboxes in someone’s files, and Tamayo takes that information back, reclaims it as hers, and connects it back to her life and identity in an inventive and enjoyable read.

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