Application Form

Phoebe Wang

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Please read all the instructions carefully before proceeding.

Use only permanent blue or black ink.

If you have special needs that require accommodation,

please explain.

The information you provide should not be limited

by the space allowed.

If you require more space, append another sheet of paper.

In the blanks below please provide us with the following:

 

your family name, your surname, your given names.

In the spaces provided below please list your middle name,

your married name, your maiden name.

         Please write your name exactly as it appears.

Do not neglect to include the names

of your clan, your forefathers, the name that is known

for miles around your ancestral home as synonymous

with a high-ridged nose, a scholarly bent, a particular

branch of expertise.

                                  If more space is required, append

another sheet of standard-size paper.

Please print clearly the names your mother rehearsed

while you wriggled for leeway inside her.

In the blanks below,

                                  fill in the schoolyard spit-ringed

slurs and concocted superhero monikers.

What handle foiled the forum’s pingbacks?

Whose incognito initials bit into bark?

What property was signed away to the sand?

What petition was authored by indignation?

What name did you blurt in your sleep, the one

you never betrayed? What epithet couldn’t fly

past the watchtower; couldn’t be sounded

safely by patrols on night duty? Please release

your traceable aliases. Don’t limit yourself

to the space provided. In the forms and voids

intended for this express purpose. Please give us details

that will identify you and facilitate this process.

Excerpted from Admission Requirements by Phoebe Wang. Copyright © 2017 by Phoebe Wang. Reprinted by permission of McClelland & Stewart, a division of Penguin Random House Canada Limited.

Dive in: 
  1. How would an application like this make you feel about your own identity?

 

  1. The rhythm in the poem starts out conversational, becoming more emphatic and staccato. When reading this poem aloud, how does the rhythm make you feel about the motivations behind the application itself?

 

  1. How does the “list” form affect the feeling of the poem? We do not normally think of lists as something emotional.  Can you find any emotions expressed in this poem? How does the author use the list to express her emotions? 

 

  1. The poem repeatedly instructs the applicant to use more space or more paper. How does the repetition build in the poem?  How does the repetition affect the way you feel about the instructions to use more space or more paper”?

 

  1. What is the tone of this poem? Without being dramatic, what kind of voice would you recite this poem in to enhance the poem’s tone? What inflections might you use?

 

  1. Phoebe Wang said in her interview with Poetry in Voice, “A poet’s job is to use language to lead the reader into emotional experiences that may change how they perceive their own world and historical moment.” What emotional experience has this poem caused in you? Can you identify how this poem has changed your perspective of the world? Has it changed your perspective on your own identity?

 

 

Writing activity

Write a “list poem” about a passion of yours.  See if you can blend the listed items into images to take the reader beyond the immediate things or tasks in the list that will help the reader feel your passion.

 

Useful Links

Follow the link below for some interesting characteristics of list poems and one author’s writing process of how she developed a list poem.

https://www.rcowen.com/PDFs/Franco%20Ch%2020%20for%20web.pdf

 

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