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Our thoughts go out to Puerto Rico during this difficult time.

William Burroughs & Brion Gysin: Cut-Ups

Don't know words. Poets don't know. Words don't know poets.

The lineage of the cut-up poetry technique can be found with early Dadaism, specifically in the work of Hugo Ball. Popularized in the late 1950s by William Burroughs, via his collaborator, the artist/wrter Brion Gysin, the art form is described as aleatory, a composition of chance. In this literary form, entire texts and phrases are “cut up” and rearranged to construct poetic stanzas. It is often likened to literary collages; an effort to recount the mapping of a visual experience.

In this circa 1976 recording, Gysin performs some of his original poems. Following the performance, Burroughs reads additional texts including an excerpt of Cobblestone Gardens, giving praise to his contemporary. Allen Ginsberg also discusses the technique, recounting and contextualizing Burroughs' practice and relating to writing on a typewriter.


Historic Audio from the Archives of Charles Ruas


A unparalleled collection of recovered and restored programs from the seventies produced by Charles Ruas for WBAI-FM, New York's Pacifica station. It features reading, lectures, and performances by such cultural and literary icons as Allen Ginsberg, John Giorno, Anaïs Nin, William Boroughs, Buckminster Fuller, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda, and Jorge Luis Borges, among numerous others. Ruas is the author of Conversations with American Writers, a Fulbright scholar, and a distinguished French translator. He is also a contributor to ARTNews and Art in America. This series is produced in partnership with Charles Ruas, The Pacifica Radio Archives, The Yale Beinecke Library, The Columbia University Rare Book & Manuscript Collection, and numerous restorers, archivists and collectors.