This an ongoing project which brings oral narrative tradition into creative collision with my own experimental writing processes wherein vocabularies are extracted from found text and used as word pools to create new work. The groundwork for this was done at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities at the University of Edinburgh in 2007/08.The upshot of this is that I am writing a series of fifty-word narratives based on recorded memoirs in Scottish Borders Council’s Memory Bank – fifty words being the maximum number of words that we can memorise verbatim without recourse to the written word – and using these as found texts. My intention is then to use material created out of these as (new) found text, and continue to do this to as many levels as I can. To date I have taken one text to three levels: Jenny Corbett → their burn assuaged → in a parallel day → poems out of in a parallel day. The next level would see one of these poems being used as the base text for generation of a new vocabulary from which further poems would be created and so on.
This is a time-consuming (one short text can generate over twenty pages of new/found vocabulary) and potentially infinite process. It may be mad! But it is totally absorbing and exciting. My hope is that once there is a certain mass of poems and prose fragments, longer narratives will be pieced together from them. My ultimate aim is that at least one (!) ballad will emerge that can be put to music.