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B&P’s Shadorma & Beyond – September 12, 2015 – Cut-Up Technique

Yokoyama Taikan. Black Wave, 1940. Via Tumblr.

Yokoyama Taikan. Black Wave, 1940. Via Tumblr.


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:

Kubla Khan
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 –
ancestral voices
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).

Tag your post MindLoveMisery’s Menagerie and B&P’s Shadorma and Beyond.  Then add your link to the MisterLinky button below.

Have fun!

29 comments on “B&P’s Shadorma & Beyond – September 12, 2015 – Cut-Up Technique

  1. Bastet
    September 12, 2015

    Cool …thanks Paloma for a really interesting challenge!

    • Paloma
      September 13, 2015

      Glad you like it! An experiment …. learning that Bowie, Cobain, and Burroughs used it had me completely intrigued 🙂

      • Bastet
        September 13, 2015

        I’d heard of cut-out poetry … or magnetic word poetry but this is an interesting technique.

  2. phylor
    September 12, 2015

    I have my pencil, scissors, word processing program all sharpened. Now, to decide what to cut up — without thinking about how I’d rearrange. I think of song lyrics as poetry, so hope that isn’t colouring too far outside the lines, lol.

    • Paloma
      September 12, 2015

      Song lyrics would be perfect!
      A bit of an experiment — so hey, the sky’s the limit. 🙂

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  5. julespaige
    September 12, 2015

    I think the Shadorma count is different –
    the one I am used to using is:
    The Shadorma (3/5/3/3/7/5 syllables/line)

    Maybe I’ll do both?

    • Paloma
      September 12, 2015

      Sorry about that — 😛
      Thanks for understanding

      • julespaige
        September 12, 2015

        I just use ’em both…
        Does the different one have a name – if not you can make one up 😉

      • Paloma
        September 12, 2015

        Instead of shadorma, shegoofed-ah?


      • julespaige
        September 12, 2015

        I put them both on the bottom of the post I did for clarity…
        ‘shegoofed’ could work but maybe
        ‘Shesacreative’ might be good too?

    • Paloma
      September 13, 2015

      Hey, I like “shesacreative”! A+++ 😀

      • julespaige
        September 13, 2015

        Then ‘that’s it!’ 😉

      • Paloma
        September 13, 2015


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  7. julespaige
    September 12, 2015

    Cut-up – I tried, not my favorite avenue.

    I’m having phone connection issues which will hopefully be resolved some time
    Monday.. so I maybe a tad scarce this weekend.

    • Paloma
      September 12, 2015

      Good luck with the connection issues!

      • julespaige
        September 12, 2015

        Thanks… With than and the issues with WP not emailing my notifications for comments… I’ve just had a ‘wonderful week’.

        Not fun to pick up your phone and hear scritchy scratchy noises instead of a real dial tone.

        Be careful with this rain… I think hubby’s golf tourney might have to be rescheduled. Three weeks with out rain and now it is, well pouring.

      • Paloma
        September 12, 2015

        Yes, it’s been really heavy rain here…!
        We need it … but … a gentle rain would be more helpful. Guess beggars can’t be choosers…!

      • julespaige
        September 12, 2015

        Yup it got canceled…but the diner part is still on. – so I won’t be cooking tonight.

        Think positive about the rain…
        It ain’t that funny white stuff… yet. 🙂

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  9. Oliana
    September 13, 2015

    I have used the sheegoofed form on many occasions 🙂 how about sheflows rather than free verse as well? 😉 I may have a go at this one even if it may be later rather than later…a great way to complement a poem you love too!!

    • Paloma
      September 14, 2015

      Shegoofed, sheflows … it’s all good 😉
      Looking forward to your response 🙂

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  12. Rall
    September 17, 2015

    I think what you have done here is called an erasure poem. Been so busy but am definitely doing one of these…love them. Am bookmarking this page with all the form info.. Thank you for your effort in making this so interesting.

    • Paloma
      September 17, 2015

      You’re very welcome — 🙂
      Looking forward to your response – I know it will be good 🙂

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This entry was posted on September 12, 2015 by in B&P Shadorma & Beyond, Poetry and tagged , .
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