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

excerpt from “Letter to Justin, Age Seven, Regarding Any Possible Mixed-Race Anxieties Which One Might Experience in the Near or Distant Future”

Sometimes, when people talk about white people,

exactly one half of me hits the Eject Button.

Not being white, that half says, Okay, this thing isn’t about me

so, I’m just going to hang out over there and think about other things,

and then the other half of me tries to tag along,

looks for an exit door he too can slip through,

but the half of me that just opted out, says, No, This

is important for you to hear. You really need to sit and listen to this,

and then the other half says No, I’m with you. We’re

the same person, and then the first one yells

something like, Not this time, Colonizer!

but that’s when I notice I’m talking aloud

and everyone’s looking at me. It’s okay

if everyone’s looking at you. It’s fine if both voices

are right. If both voices are wrong. If they’re not

talking about you but you should listen

because it’s important. If they are talking about you

but you shouldn’t listen because they’re clueless.

You might walk through many rooms.

You were welcome before you arrived.

It’s okay if what you feel is anxious.

If what you feel is calm. If what you feel is jarring.

If what you feel can best be described

as torsion pendulums, elm trees,

feeder roots, escrima sticks, algae on the surface

of water surrounding you and then letting you go.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:



Childhood & Coming of Age


Intersectionality & Culture

Literary Devices:


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


the absence of a conjunction (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so…) between phrases and within a sentence


conversation between two or more people as a feature of a book, play, or movie


(of a literary work) in the form of letters


Needs a definition