A dose of fetish. Good friends. An incomparable muse.
Welcome to B&P’s Shadorma & Beyond! For this week I would like to introduce the Cut-Up Technique.
Cut-Up Poetry is an experimental poetic form in which a poem is created by taking an existing text, cutting the text into pieces, and then rearranging the pieces either at random or in an order that is pleasing to the writer.
William Burroughs (a Beat author) used this techinique:
As did David Bowie:
And Kurt Cobain (Nirvana) “used cut-ups to construct his lyrics—like Bowie, taking the bits of text from his own writing rather than from the mass media productions Burroughs … preferred. Pop music critic Jim Derogatis quotes Cobain as saying, “My lyrics are total cut-up. I take lines from different poems that I’ve written. I build on a theme if I can, but sometimes I can’t even come up with an idea of what the song is about.”
Any text may be used – newspaper, magazine, online articles; published poems; or the artist’s own poetry.
For this exercise, take “Kubla Khan” and either print out the poems, cut it up, and rearrange it manually … or cut and paste your modified poem in your word processing program. Your poem can be as long or as short as you like, and it may take any form at all.
Here is Kubla Khan, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
Or, a vision in a dream. A Fragment.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw:
It was an Abyssinian maid
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.
Here is my cut-up poem:
weave a circle
down to a sunless sea –
holy and enchanted
in ceaseless turmoil seething
cry, Beware! Beware!
midway on the waves
So for this episode, “cut up” Kubla Khan (or the poem of your choice, including your own poetry) to create a new work. Be sure to credit the original work you are using. OR – write a shadorma (a non-rhyming poem with a syllable count of 3/5/3/7/5/5).
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