Flexing our creative muscles with cut up poetry.

We’re big believers in treating creativity as a muscle that needs to be flexed to grow, and that’s why we exercise ours regularly – not only on client work but also at monthly creative lunches we call Wonder on Wednesdays (WoW). This month, it was my turn to host. With April being National Poetry Month, and with my love of words, I decided on a cut up poetry workshop.

Popularized in the late 1950s and early 1960s by writer William S. Burroughs, the technique is really quite simple. Cut individual letters, words, and phrases from old newspapers and magazines and combine them to create an original piece of poetry. The style and format are both up to you.

I didn’t set any rules for our exercise and encouraged everyone to write from the gut. And write from the gut they did. We wound up with an amazing mix of styles, from political to autobiographical. Take a look at what we created.


If you want to try cut up poetry for yourself, just gather up some old print materials, scissors, and glue, and get snipping. I personally prefer cutting out a bunch of words and phrases that catch my eye and then building from there, versus writing ahead of time. Don’t hold back on collecting visuals, either – you can substitute an image for a word or even use a splashy spread as the canvas for your poem.

If you end up making your own cut up poem, be sure to share it with us on Twitter or Facebook.