What is selfwriting poetry?

It’s a poetry excersise I like to do a lot. It often leaves me feeling somewhere in-between making a crossword puzzle and consulting the Ouija board.

You start by selecting two snippets of text from different sources, for instance some unsolicited mail tossed and a magazine paragraph. You cut out the individual words, selecting without restriction those that appeal to you. Also cut out most of the verbs and lots of words like ‘the’ and and ‘but’, which will help you glue together the more pronounced words in a way that makes sense to you.

Start playing around, making combinations. You’ll find that sentences start forming pretty easily and some words just seem to belong together.

I do this in Dutch usually, but I made one in English last night to accompany this post. In this case I used a snippet from a flap text for a crime novel and one from an out-of-date travel guide.