Categories: Beat NewsFeatures

CUT UP! An Anthology Inspired by the Cut-Up Method of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin


In Paris in the late Fifties the Beat Generation writer William Burroughs developed the Cut-Up Method. It involved taking a piece of finished text and cutting it into pieces – then rearranging those pieces to create a new text or work of art. Burroughs wrote that: “When you cut into the present the future leaks out.” His creative partner and pal Brion Gysin prophetically declared that: “All words are taped.”

This anthology comes out on the occasion of Burroughs’ 100th birthday.

The cut-up had a profound effect on all media. Devotees of cut-up include David Bowie, Radiohead, and Kathy Acker. Says CUT UP! co-editor Joe Ambrose: “I guess it’s Bowie that really popularized the cut-up, leading to thousands of 70s and 80s youths taking the scissors to their Dad’s Sunday paper. I tried to reach out to Bowie to contribute to the book, via his guitarist Gerry Leonard who is a friend. Gerry put me right in touch with Bowie’s PA but warned me, correctly, that Bowie rarely responded to such requests these days.”

In addition to bringing together new work by new people who’ve emerged from the social media jungle, CUT UP! salutes some better known 20th Century voices who kept the spirit of Burroughs alive. Contributors include Kenji Siratori, Nina Antonia the New York Dolls and Johnny Thunders biographer, Claude Pelieu, Billy Chainsaw, Cabell McLean who was Burroughs’ partner and collaborator, and Nathan Penlington, star of the contemporary London live poetry scene, and Allen Ginsberg.

Says A.D. Hitchin: “We went looking for mostly new and emergent voices. Kenji Siratori, whom I greatly admire, is probably the leading artist working with cut-up right now. Bowie and Denis Cooper both admire him a great deal… And the book reaches right back to the creation of cut-up in the Paris Beat Hotel via the inclusion of Sinclair Beiles – who was in the first cut-up manifesto – Minutes to Go – along with Burroughs, Gysin, and Gregory Corso.”

A.D. Hitchin is an Editor at Oneiros Books and the author of several books including Messages to Central Control. He is a leading contemporary purveyor of the cut-up. http://adhitchin.tumblr.com/

Joe Ambrose has worked with Anita Pallenberg, William Burroughs, Paul Bowles, and Lydia Lunch. He is the author of 14 books including Chelsea Hotel Manhattan and Moshpit Culture. www.joeambrose.info.
CUT UP! is available from Oneiros Books at: http://www.paraphiliamagazine.com/oneirosbooks/cut-up-2/.


Publication Date: 12 April 2014. Further information, images, Kindle review copies etc. contact: joedigger@hotmail.com

David S. Wills

David S. Wills is the founder and editor of Beatdom literary journal and the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs the Weird Cult and World Citizen: Allen Ginsberg as Traveller. His next book, High White Notes: The Rise and Fall of Gonzo Journalism comes out in November, 2021.

Recent Posts

Review: Fear and Loathing in Aspen

The life and work of Hunter S. Thompson has long appealed to filmmakers, yet no…

5 days ago

Podcast About the Beat Generation

In a recent episode of Wondros, a podcast hosted by Jesse Dylan and Pricilla Cohen,…

2 weeks ago

Review: The Beats, by Steven Belletto

In 2020, Cambridge University Press published The Beats: A Literary History, by Steven Belletto, author…

2 months ago

The Change: Allen Ginsberg, Reborn

This essay was originally published in Beatdom #21. On July 18th, 1963, Allen Ginsberg sat…

2 months ago

Beatdom #22 – The Jack Kerouac Centenary Edition

Every year, we pick a theme for the next installment of Beatdom. In the past,…

3 months ago

The Beats: A Teaching Companion

Clemson University and the Beat Studies Association have been working together on a series of…

3 months ago

This website uses cookies.