Cut-up 1: Tzara

“Poetry should be made by all. Not by one.” - Lautreamont, Poesies

The dadaist poet Tristan Tzara gave instructions for making a poem by cutting up a found text and picking the words out of a hat. This approach reduces the control of the writer and allows other forces to determine the placement of the words. With characteristically bitter sarcasm, Tzara concluded his instructions with “And there you are - an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.” The writer becomes material-gatherer, your role simply choosing which text(s) to cut up. In contrast to the cut-up method of William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, Tzara's method of cutting out individual words tends to create a fragmentary, asyntactic mosaic effect.


  • Take a page each from two different books.
  • Cut out individual words and put them in a hat.
  • Pick words out at random and glue them onto a piece of paper in the order in which they arrive.

Another idea: Glue your cut-out words into another book