April 15, 2023

Michael Boughn (b. USA / Canada) 1946

Michael Boughn (b. USA/Canada)

Born and raised in Riverside, California where his great grandparents had settled in the late 19th century, Michael Boughn moved to Canada in October, 1966 to escape the US military draft and to continue organizing against the Viet Nam War. He lived in Vancouver for 7 years. While there he met Robin Blaser who introduced him to the work of William Blake, Charles Olson, H.D., Jack Spicer, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams and other crucial contemporary writers, forever changing his life.

     In 1971 he left university in order to organize full time. Over the next several years he worked in various jobs, eventually becoming a Teamster in Toronto where he was a freight handler on the lakefront for seven years. In 1978, the U.S. government dropped all charges against him and he returned to California in 1980. He worked for 3 years running a high-speed punch press in a metal stamping factory in Silicone Valley, eventually returning to school at the University of California at Santa Cruz, where he completed a BA in 1983.

     That same year he moved to Buffalo, New York to pursue graduate studies at SUNY Buffalo, where he studied with John Clarke and Robert Creeley and worked in the Poetry/Rare Book Collection. During the next 11 years he completed his PhD, producing the first descriptive bibliography of H.D. (University Press of Virginia, 1993), and worked as a writer, typesetter, and publication designer. In 1993 he returned to Canada where he has lived since, teaching at the University of Toronto, publishing non-fiction for young adults and children, and helping write and produce plays for Toronto’s Clay & Paper Theatre. In 2001 swore allegiance to the Queen and her heirs and became a Canadian citizen. He currently lives in Toronto with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children, Amelia and Sam.

      His first book of poems, Iterations of the Diagonal, was published in 1995, followed by A little post-apocalyptic suite for RC with thanks for the rhino (1996), Dislocation Flutter (1998), One’s own MIND (1999), Dislocations in Crystal (2003), and 22 Skidoo (2005), and most recently Ongoing offensive operations to eliminate all pockets of resistance minus one (2005) and Two minus ones (2006). He recently completed the manuscript of a book called SubTractions—Opus minus one. For Clay & Paper he was dramaturge for Lilith Unfair (1999), and co-wrote with David Anderson The Lost City of Wagadu (2000), The Sylliad—My Big Fat Greek War Story (2003), and The Spaces Between (2005). He has also written works of prose such as Business as Usual and Measure's Measure.

    Boughn’s poetry is cosmological and agitational, seeking in the dislocations of syntactical delirium unlimited possibilities for further experiences of meaning.


Iterations of the Diagonal (Buffalo: Shuffaloff, 1995); A little post-apocalyptic suite for RC with thanks for the rhino (Toronto: fiftyuhthees editions, 1996); Dislocation Flutter (Amman, Jordan: Oasii Press, 1998); One’s own MIND—Fascicle #4 in A Curriculum of the Soul (Canton, New York: Glover Publishing, 1999); Dislocations in Crystal (Toronto: Coach House Books, 2003); 22 Skidoo (Toronto: Shuffaloff, 2005); Cosomographia: A Post-Lucretian Faux Micro Epic (Book Thug, 2010); Nine Blue Moments for Robin (Buffalo: BlazeVOX, 2011); Great Canadian Poems for Aged, Volume 1 (Book Thug, 2012); City: A Poem for the End of the World (New York: Spuyten Duyvil, 2016); Hermetic Divagations--After H.D. (New York: Spuyten Duyvil, 2018); Uncertain Remains (Buffalo: BlazeVox, 2022)

Winner of the PIP Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative Poetry in English

from 22 Skidoo


—Katherine Hepburn

Golly it’s swell
to canoodle surpasses

skedaddle’s oomph
in lost appeal to delight’s

distant dream of approval’s
persuasive dialectics

a smackeroo to beat
the band but not up

there, as golly gives us in Kate’s
breathless surprise, another

unknown origin pulling us
neither there nor there but

and as it piles on
showdowns and oodles headed

nowhere fast and not
afraid of any thyroid’s ineffable

fluctuations in the image
of wagon’s mode

of transport imprints
on coots death of berry

picking’s augmented
pain in the tush

Reprinted from First Intensity, no. 20 (2005). Copyright ©2005 by Michael Boughn.

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