BURROUGHS & THE ART OF CUTUP WRITING

 

So, been unable to write a poem

For three days

Managed a Haiku

About the desertion of my Muse

If I put my mind to it

Could come up with a Cinquain

Then I came across this video by

William S. Burroughs, Beat poet

One of my heroes in the 60’s

(How odd, I talk about the 60’s

And now I’m in my 60’s

Time confuses me…)

Anyway, loved the line in

Allen Ginsberg’s “America”

Where he says:

“Burroughs is in Tangiers I don’t think he’ll come back it’s sinister”

Used to mumble that line in my OCD way

Wondering why he wouldn’t come back

Why it was sinister

So where was I?

Oh, yeah, Burroughs

And the art of cut-up writing

Based on Dadaist art:

Cut up words from a newspaper

Place in bag

Gently mix

Pull out words

Copy them in that order

New Poem!

Or do what Burroughs did:

Use your own poetry to cut up and recompose

Well, who actually buys a newspaper anymore?

Had to print out something but

Hadn’t replaced my cartridge in a long time

So did that

But then I needed scissors to cut out the words

I buy scissors at the dollar store

And they really aren’t made for carefully cutting

Out precious words (from my poems)

Or agenda-based words (from online newspapers)

But I did it, raggedy edges and all

Didn’t like the look of it

So went to my favorite random number generator

Copied a series of numbers

Matched them alphabetically

Here’s what I got,

Here’s the first line of my new poem:

A negative doctor negated Jane’s hemorrhage

(I hate double negatives

Always screwed up my IQ tests)

Well, maybe that would have worked as a poem

Back in the Beat days, or even the Hippie ones

Maybe it would still work for a young poet

But me? I think I’ll accept the message

That my Muse returned, temporarily

And is taunting me

Burroughs may be in Tangiers

But I’m in Dadaist hell

And it’s sinister…

http://www.openculture.com/2011/08/william_s_burroughs_on_the_art_of_cutup_writing.html

(C) 2014 ViataMaja, Laminas

10 comments

  1. I was Burroughs archive librarian! We have a lot in common! I got the job by being dragged out by a schmoozing friend and talked about all the awful things Burroughs had done and I never liked his books except Junky. , Knowing all about him and that world but not being a fan gave me the credentials LOL! Aspergers candor works its magic again!

    Did you read Kerouac’s daughter’s two books? I like them a lot. A lot of the beat generation is boring for me because I’m a woman. Also there are so many guys trying to be Kerouac….

    Speed by Burroughs son I liked when 17, I wonder if I still would. The book Women of the Beat Generation made me happy!

    First time I met Ginsberg I was at concert in NYC at a tiny bar 17 years old and I had no idea who he was but I said “You look like Papa Smurf!” in a happy way. Again autism social skills made me delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, this is exciting, Heather! Burroughs archive librarian! Read his son’s books and liked them but didn’t know about Kerouac’s daughter. Will check that out later! Women of the Beat Generation was incredible and I’m so glad they finally had a voice (that Neal Cassady…). I met Ginsberg when I worked at Penn in the eighties. He performed with his group, playing music, and although, as a huge fan of Howl (having read it at 15 and floating-falling-loving his words) I would have rather seen him “angry” than peaceful, I had to stop the tears when listening to him. And here is the thing: although a feminist, all those words from the “bad boys” were also words from the Buddhists and I just loved the darkness and light of Kerouac and Ginsberg.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I know what you mean about Ginsberg. When I was 23 I tried to copy Howl for the musicians and writers around me: lost to cheap beer and Nintendo… 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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