A Poem by Matthew Olzmann

A Letter to Jamaal May Regarding the Existence of Unicorns

So last week we heard from Jamaal May about the trauma of being an American.  Here is a friend of Jamaal May’s writing about something very different.  Or is it?

After reading the above poem, write a brief blog post below describing what you think this poem is all about.

Try to write using evidence from the poem as well as your own experience, logic, and imagination.

What makes a poem a good one?

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18 thoughts on “A Poem by Matthew Olzmann

  1. I believe what this poem is getting at is that if we conform we lose what we truly loved. In the poem that author calls the people terrorizing the horse things like uninteresting. The boy, after being made fun of, decides he wants his horse to conform and cuts the horn off. The next day he finds his unicorn dead, he had lost what he truly loves. I think a poem is truly good when it has a point and the author has worded it in a way where it isn’t simply one dimensional.

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  2. What I think this poem is about is how people are not accepted in this world and are unknown to their society. How we make each other fill none existed and then they hide or become invisible to their own surroundings.

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  3. I think this poem is about people that are accepted in this world. I think a good poem that has a wonderful story on what ever its about and detail about almost everything in the story.

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  4. The poem was about boy wanting to have a unicorn and i can similarly relate to it of how i wanted something as well. All i ever wanted was a psp system. I was around 10 or 11 and I though i was going to get it for Christmas and i did.

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  5. This poem is basically about lack of acceptance within humans. A kid wants a horse but instead his parents got him a unicorn. The kid accepts it whole heartedly, but everyone around him condemns it and portrays pure negativity towards him and the unicorn. In order to have a good poem it needs to have descriptive details, allowing the reader to actually feel what the writer is feeling. Secondly, it needs to flow. When a poem does not flow properly, the reader gets confused and eventually will lose focus, and lastly it needs to be spine chilling, filled with suspense. This allows the reader to be anxious to know what happens next.

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  6. The poem starts off very weird, and I’m still not sure exactly what it is about. But from what I gathered I would say it has to do with how the world rejects what’s not the norm. How when this boy, brought his Unicorn in front of his class he was ridiculed, and hated. So much so that people would come to his house and make fun of his pet. The last part of the poem where it says,

    Behind him, if one cared to look,

    we might have seen most

    of the known world.

    This is where my initial point really took form. The world changed the boy, where something he wanted and loved, was shunned by the rest of the world. To the point where it drove him to kill this animal, so that he would fit in with the rest of them. I actually really like the poem, it was a little weird, but what made it so great is that it really makes you think.

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  7. I am sure I am wrong with determining what he meant, but I feel as though he was saying when your something special people like to put you down because you’re different and not their normal. So they pick on you and throw so much shade to you to a point where what made you special is dead because your no longer comfortable because they tarred you down.

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  8. this poem is basically talking about how people take thing for granted and cant appreciate what others have and they laugh until it all gone. and not judge others by how they look. just like with the horse people keep pointing fingers would go to his house and terrorize the horse and the boy loved the horse. but he couldn’t take it no more so he decided to cut the horn off the horse and the next day the horse was the dead. so don’t judge others how they look animals are like humans they have feelings too.

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  9. I believe this poem is about how a person can want something so bad, but yet other people’s negativity can make someone slump so down to not want what that person wanted before. I believe this is a great poem because it is absolutely true. A person can want something so bad, but if someone else claims it’s not what it seems; it brings the person down. A person is like a level. It will do so much to be on the ”correct” level. It will always want to be on the level other people are on. Despite the fact the person’s potential is way passed it.

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  10. This poem is about a guy telling a story about a boy who had a unicorn. The ideas that come through to this poem are about one lying to make a place or thing look better and amazing. It also people making fun of others for being out of the norm, or just something different than what is supposed to be portrayed through society. Having that being of existence, it made the kid angry and full of animosity towards his classmates that made of his horse.

    I don’t really have an experience like for told in the poem but from what I know. Making a good poem is mainly through emotion and really plenty of imagination of fake conversations or a simple thought process that somehow all connects.

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  11. in my opinion this poem is all about a kids dream and how it can easily get ruined with just one little thing. the poem has life learning lessons and it shows what people around can do to you. A major thing that makes a poem a good thing is when it gives alo5 if detail and it shows you something different at the end. A good poem should also contain good emotion.

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  12. I think the poem is about how others make people change to fit their standards of what they want, also I think this poem is talking about bullying and how we all do it when something is different than the norm.
    The reason I say this is because from the poem that matthew wrote he says how every day at school the kids came by every day and made fun of him and his horse at school and his house and how he couldn’t stand it so he went and cut off the unicorns horn not knowing that it would kill it and regretted it after he had seen what had happened because of what he did.
    I think that what matthew is saying is correct that we shouldn’t try and make things different from what they are, we should instead try and except them. This being said we should also take in to consideration what happens if we do something like this and not ignore the consequences of what we do.

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  13. I believe that this poem is about the loss of innocence, and the first tumbling steps into reality. Considering the fact that Matthew Olzmann is writing a letter to Jamaal May, it makes perfect sense to consider, a poet who is writing about unicorns vs. one who writes about trauma. Olzmann writes about a boy and his dead unicorn, which could possibly mean that even though the boy tried to hold onto this string of childhood/innocence, it was impossible since, he couldn’t quite take the jeering and pressure of his peers. Also I feel it describes the first tumbling steps into reality, for example in stanza 10 the boy rushes to capture the horn of the unicorn, only to realize that he is too late to recover it. Rushing forward to take hold of something or capture it, is similar to how we want to grow up (or rush) quickly to experience the “posh” life of adulthood. We throw away our innocence, in order to become a reality, and leave fantasy, far behind us, only to later realize that we’ve been wrong all along.

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  14. The poem is definitely about conforming. A kid wants a horse but he gets a unicorn. But everyone around him wants him to have a horse. The kids in the school shout “What’s wrong with your ugly horse,” In fact he’s called a kid who doesn’t “play by the rules.”. The rules being society’s expectations of children.

    It could be significant that it’s a boy who gets a unicorn than a girl, leaving a possible interpretation of gender conformity in our society. Boys can’t play with dolls, etc.

    The most interesting thing about this is how he tries to solve the issue. He gets hacksaw to cut the unicorn’s horn but “It was the wrong move and the next morning, the thing was dead.” Perhaps it’s no longer the same thing, it hurts too much or maybe it’s no longer special to the kid. Either way, he kills the unicorn unintentionally by trying to be normal. Is it his fault or the people’s fault? Both I believe.

    The rhythm is good in a good poem. A clunky poem is just as bad as a clunky song. They have specific lines that make you feel some sort of realness or truth about what they’re saying. Good is subjective, but if a poem can be universally relatable, is it universally good?

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  15. I think about this poem on how brutally they treat other people in our society how they don’t accept what they see. How this boy wanting a unicorn but at school they would make fun of.
    A great poem that can have a point on what ever the person is writing about.

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  16. This poem to me it felt like it was kind of talking about how people don’t fit in. There are always people trying to fit in and be accepted with what they love. For instances the boy with the unicorn, kids at his school were acting so against the unicorn. The boy loved the thing so much and when it died. He was heart broken.
    What makes a great poem is one that can really capture your attention and have you just sit there and reflect on you and your life.

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  17. I think this poem is about that is important to believe in other people, and try to understand that the story about unicorn can be true, and never we have to point other people.
    As for the kid with the dead horse?
    Imagine the next day at school. How would he respond?
    Tears? A damning finger pointed
    In the direction of his classmates? Perhaps, he pretended
    Not to even see them; he simply

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  18. What makes a poem a good one? To me that means it exists in three dimensions: narrative (story), imagery (pictures) and metaphor (larger idea the poem symbolizes). Robert Frost’s “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” has all three. I grew up in the Cold War, always experiencing violence at a distance, never up close… My poem ( I have yet to write it) might begin like this:

    My father would have participated in the INVASION OF JAPAN:
    Really a festival of death and destruction, he told me, but
    He was spared by THE ATOM BOMB, which, as I learned in
    8th grade, had an eight mile radius of nearly perfect fatality.
    The same year I watched the FALL OF SAIGON. What did I see?
    Tears and helicopters. What did it mean? Why was it so important
    To live in a certain way, and did CHAIRMAN MAO mean the
    COLLECTIVIZATION of Chinese agriculture to starve millions?
    Ten years on I watched my mother’s mother die of emphysema,
    All the while smoking form an opening in her throat, where the breathing
    Tube would usually go. With love, with pity, with relief, I told myself:
    “I KNOW WHY.”

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