Matthew Olzmann


Matthew Olzmann (?-present) is a mixed race poet from Detroit, Michigan. He received his BA from the University of Michigan-Dearborn and an MFA from Warren Wilson College. Olzmann is the author of the collections Mezzanines and Contradictions in the Design and currently teaches at Dartmouth College and MFA program at Warren Wilson College. Source

Ten Letters to the Angel of Death



 Dear Angel of Death,


A long time ago, one of my writing teachers said, "Make a list of what you're most afraid of and write to the thing at the top of the list."  I looked at my list, saw your name, and ignored that teacher for the rest of the year.  




 Dear Angel of Death,


I hope you're not offended that I ignored that guy. Here's the situation: I know you're skilled at your trade, a paragon of efficiency, and worthy of a pen pal. But I ignored him, because, A) I know you're busy, and B) I didn't want to draw your attention any earlier than necessary.  In fact, I'd be fine if you just forgot about me entirely. 




Dear Angel of Death,


So why am I writing now?  Not long ago, I saw a three-legged dog limping across a field.  Something about that reminded me of you.  I guess, there's only so long we can avoid each other.  Thought you should know.  Whatever.




Dear Angel of Death,


Have you ever thought of working under a pseudonym?  Perhaps something more familiar, like "Cousin Jimmy" or "Uncle Dave" might make people feel more comfortable.  "Cousin Jimmy" and "Uncle Dave" just sound like good-natured dudes.  And it would make parents' jobs so much easier when they have to explain your occupation to the little ones.  Hey kids, remember Grandma?  Well she's gone to live with Uncle Dave.  Glad we had this talk.




Dear Uncle Dave,


I was just trying out the new name, kicking the tires, and seeing how it handles on the highway, when I realized there might be a complication.  Apparently, many people actually have real-life Uncle Daves.  It might be confusing to say, "Uncle Dave was visited by Uncle Dave, today." 


I'll see if I can come up with something else. 




Dear Sunshine Larry of the Sparkle Territories,


Success!  I just Googled that, and guess what? Google says:  No results found for “Sunshine Larry of the Sparkle Territories.”  So, I guess, that name's yours, if you want it.




Dear Sunshine Larry,


I don't know if this name's going to work either. Feels like false advertising.  Okay, now I'm depressed.  




Once, I saw a rusted-out Chevy on the side of the road.  It reminded me of you.




Last week, I saw a homeless man dressed as a cactus. He held a sign that said, "I still believe in rain."  It was a hundred degrees out and the skies were blazing white.  And yes, this reminded me of you.




Dear Angel of Death,


Did we decide on a name, yet?  I thought your initials might work.  There's something clean and precise about "A.D."   Of course, there was once a basketball player named Adrian Dantley, and they called him "A.D." for short.  Do you like basketball?  I hope you let that guy stick around for a while.  He was my favorite and when he was on, he was unrelenting.  I saw him play once. The other team put a forward on him, and A.D. would blow right by him. Then they'd throw a guard on him, and he'd just post the guy up. They'd foul him, and he'd nail the free throws.



This also reminds me of you.  That moment when everyone knows what's coming, but no one can stop it. He could do whatever he wanted, and by the end of the game, he just executed the same move over and over. 






Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Death & Loss

Doubt & Fear

Humor & Satire

Literary Devices:


a figure of speech in which words repeat at the beginning of successive clauses, phrases, or sentences


(of a literary work) in the form of letters


the attribution of human qualities to a non-human thing