Challenge #17: The Crack-Up Quarry

For today’s poetry challenge, I’m inspired to create a poem using the fold-in technique, made famous by William Burroughs.


Splicing together paragraphs from different books offers interesting juxtapositions of text and image. “When you cut into the present the future leaks out.” said Burroughs. I walked over to my bookcase and selected the first two books that caught my attention.


I opened to a random page — The Crack-Up, a collection of writings by F. Scott Fitzgerald. The book fell open at page 161; Scott Fitzgerald’s Notebooks, Section J, Jingles and Songs.

This is the story of Fitzgerald’s “crack-up”, his quick descent from success to failure and despair and his determined recovery. Fitzgerald died in 1940 at the age of 44. “Sometimes,” Scott Fitzgerald once said: “I don’t know whether I’m real or whether I’m a character in one of my own novels.”

The second ‘fold-in book’ is a crime novel called The Quarry by Swiss writer Friedrich Dürrenmatt200px-TheQuarry

“Inspector Hans Bärlach, at the end of his career and suffering from cancer, is recovering from an operation. He witnesses how his friend Dr. Samuel Hungertobel turns pale and becomes nervous when looking at a photograph in a magazine he is reading. The person pictured is the German Dr. Nehle who carried out horrific experiments on prisoners in a concentration camp in Gdansk (Poland) and is believed to have committed suicide in Chile in 1945. Dr Hungertobel explains that his colleague Fritz Emmenberger, who was in Chile during the war, closely resembles Dr. Nehle.”

I opened The Quarry at a random page and used a piece of plain white paper to cover half the words on that page. I used the same technique with the Fitzgerald book.

I merged half lines of two verses from the poem ‘Clay Feet’ on page 161 of Fitzgerald’s book with a paragraph of half lines from Dürrenmatt’s book.

This is the result of the fold-in experiment. For clarification, Fitzgerald’s words are in regular typeface, Dürrenmatt’s words are in italics.

The Crack-Up Quarry

I can see them, sometimes



was completely baffled. 

Ghosts, slim

Girls and

Graces —

Glasses.  He always did that when he was…

Noon burns, and soon there come

Times said the Commissioner.  He readily 

The pale and ravaged places

Wasn’t always easy to give shelter to

ago adorned. — And Seeing, 

 and he, Barlach, would have to bear 

falters as an invalid…

Clandestine alcoholic.  He would


Did something in their being

to call the clinic Sonnenstein in Zurich. 

From them when my ideal did?

A bed for Barlach under the name of

Ghosts, cast down by that young damning,

He should describe him as a freshly 

answer:  I heard but you say,

but rich patient

weak.  We failed a bit in shamming.

Want to go to (his colleague Fritz) Emmenberger? Dr Hungertobel

Will freedom always weigh…

and sat down.

My heart?  For your defection,

answered Balach.

Who had me in your keeping, break!  Fall

(Doctor Samuel) Hungertobel, “I don’t understand you.”

Height to this great imperfection!

“is dead” corrected the old man.  “Now…”

weep. —  Yet can I hate you all?


5 thoughts on “Challenge #17: The Crack-Up Quarry

  1. juxtoposition (at the beginning of your article) is a great word and one that catches my eye whenever I see it, almost as if it jumps off the page. Great poem and interesting concept, your book case appears to be filled with a much more educated choice of reading than mine! 🙂

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