Michael Boughn — 22 Skidoo/Subtractions

Michael Boughn
22 Skidoo/Sub Transactions
(BookThug, 2009) paperback
ISBN 1 897388 34 9 / 978 1 897388 34 1
$18.00 | BUY NOW

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Fragments at large

A review by rob mclennan

“Another single entity carved into sections is Michael Boughn’s 22 Skiddo / SubTractions. Writing two sections as a flip-book, each their own cover, his sequence “22 Skiddo” is a carved-down structure of complex couplets, a la Victor Coleman, or even shades of Robert Creeley, for whom a poem or two inside is dedicated. Each poem similarly shaped, and skating off quotes by Milton, Deleuze, Dickens, Tennyson, Lyotard and Nancy Drew, among others. His is a system of poems expounding and extending thought, these small quotes that begin mere a trigger, with Boughn’s poems taking that ball and running, all directions at once. “SubTractions,” the second section (being a book with two front covers, one can only go by the spine for which comes “first”), writes just short of writing, each poem “minus one,” whether “soccer minus one,” “frank minus one” (as in Sinatra) or “nuptials minus one,” writing “A kind of betrayal / all the more rare for its loyalty / to this thread we dangle from over” (p 25). Boughn writes in concise twists, carrying a poetry that seems brilliantly out of place amid everything else that appears in print. Where does meaning lie? This is the question posed even by one of his opening quotes, by Archibald MacLeish, “A poem should not mean, but be.” These poems are far more expansive yet no less elastic, writing out to write the mark just before the actual mark.”

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Good time knocks:

A review by Patrick James Dunagan for Jacket Magazine #38

“Boughn writes in sets similar to a jazz performance. His poems seek a similar sense of spontaneity in timing. The jumps occur quicker than the eye catches and slow the reading while nonetheless maintaining an astonishing musical speed, leaving the low throb of a sustained measure thudding in the air. Removing himself as identifiable witness or subject of the poem—the action is one consumed of/by language itself—allows Boughn to toss language up and out, digging the sound thus stirred into being.”

The full review may be viewed here.

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22 Skiddo / SubTractions

A review by Zachary Alapi for Matrix Magazine #84

“Michael Boughn’s double collection 22 Skiddo / SubTractions allows for and demands multiple readings by presenting its reader with two collections that complement each other through difference. With fractured imagery that reappears in succeeding poems and flows through a Creeley-like use of enjambment in delicately crafted free verse couplets, 22 Skiddo explores the cluttered landscape of modernity. Each poem, framed with quotations from poets, philosophers and pop culture figures hints at a historical sensibility that is continuously knocked down and rebuilt, always in tension with the poet’s use of imagery and unique sonic elements. SubTractions deals more directly with a subversion of conventional perspectives on children, marriage, and the doldrums of modern suburban life. Rich in negative imagery, with each poem’s title containing the phrase “Minus One,” Boughn inhabits the routines of daily life where references to H.D. and John Dillinger demonstrate the distance between our historical predecessors and current conditions. 22 Skiddo / SubTractions is layered with meaning and, more importantly, the potential for something new through constant revision.”

free verse couplets, 22 Skiddo explores
the cluttered landscape of modernity.
Each poem, framed with quotations
from poets, philosophers and pop culture
figures hints at a historical sensibility
that is continuously knocked
down and rebuilt, always in tension
with the poet’s use of imagery and
unique sonic elements. SubTractions
deals more directly with a subversion
of conventional perspectives on children,
marriage, and the doldrums of
modern suburban life. Rich in negative
imagery, with each poem’s title
containing the phrase “Minus One,”
Boughn inhabits the routines of daily
life where references to H.D. and
John Dillinger demonstrate the distance
between our historical predecessors
and current conditions. 22
Skiddo / SubTractions is layered with
meaning and, more importantly, the
potential for something new through
constant revision.