How to Make a Poem Using Scissors and Tape: David Lespiau’s Four Cut-Ups

The cut-up is a Dadaist poetry composition technique that asks you to take a poem (or poems), cut it up, and rearrange it to form a new text.  Some practitioners also do the fold-in, which requires two texts–you fold each in half vertically, and then line up the lines and read across.  While William S. Burroughs was a proponent of the cut-up in the middle of the 20th century, poets are still composing under the banner of the cut-up, as in David Lespiau’s 2011 collection Four Cut-Ups.  You can read my review of it on Drunken Boat:

Your Assignment:  Write a cut-up or fold-in poem.  Print out a poem, or re-write its words singly on another sheet of paper,  Then, rearrange them into your own poem.  Or, you could write a fold-in.  Print out two poems with similar spacing.  Fold each in half vertically.  Read across the new lines (which will be one-half one poem, one-half the other).  Your poem will be the result.  If you want more detailed instructions:

One thought on “How to Make a Poem Using Scissors and Tape: David Lespiau’s Four Cut-Ups

  1. Here’s the cut-up I wrote today–it’s a cut-up of Jim Simmerman’s “Moon Go Away, I Don’t Love You No More” (!/20601749):

    After None Could

    Nobody’s bluejay jabbers like antique
    meanness, because sidewalk tastes like morning
    sex. Backward headstones dance in Jacksonville,
    where we wore mock moon tongue, amok as air
    in bored nostrils all the more burned for that
    walk away on woodsmoke. Don’t lead through pines,
    the way changed. It fell away the night we
    weren’t kissing in boughs. Even a bored field
    tastes of morning light thrown on small hands. I
    spilled my color till all my small scribbled
    business comes winking in crayons dead by
    1965. My business comes off
    me like felt hats. Tomorrow lolls, witness
    to the dull eye: I forget we toast you
    today, Little Arkansas, as the moon
    dogs our little spelunking league, happy
    in windows and track, among rocks’ poor thoughts.
    None though ran so dirty and nowhere as
    I. The dog song: Go kiss every wink. We
    have you, know the music that opens far
    away. There, it’s about only us,
    yards of trees, and love, so 1965.
    Randy Shellhorse knew the sky was gone…to
    the toy dark, where no more love numbs that heart.

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