“Burroughs Is a Poet Too, Really”: The Poetics of Minutes to Go

1960s: Days of Rage


“The long and intimate association of William Burroughs with poets is well known: Ginsberg, most obviously, as well as Corso, Creeley, Ferlinghetti, Leroi Jones, John Giorno, and so on. But to talk of Burroughs’ own material engagement with poetic form and poetics in relation to historical and contemporary practices — this can really only mean one thing: the cut-up project that began in Paris at the end of 1959. As well as brief encounters with old luminaries such as Duchamp, Peret and Tzara, this was the place and the context in which his activities would bring Burroughs in contact with George Maciunas’ Fluxus Group, the Domaine Poetique of Bernard Heidsieck and Henri Chopin, the work of the Lettristes and poesie sonore. It’s easy to forget, but his first novel, Junkie, had been published as a pulp paperback on sale in rail stations only six years earlier. Now, to give just…

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